Many people risk their very lives immigrating to the United States. On their journey, they dream of better opportunities to make a living and keep their loved ones safe. The journey can, unfortunately, come to an abrupt end if they incur criminal charges. Any immigrant who enters the country, legally or illegally, may be deported as punishment for committing a crime. A conviction for some criminal charges may also prevent a person from legally re-entering the country after deportation.
Charges for crimes of domestic violence may put you at risk of deportation. If you’ve been arrested for a crime of domestic violence as a non-citizen, you need to contact a San Diego domestic violence defense attorney who understands how a conviction can threaten your way of life in America.
What Counts as Domestic Violence in California?
Domestic violence involves abuse or threats toward an intimate partner or someone related to you by blood or marriage. Crimes of domestic violence that can threaten your immigration status include:
- Violence against a current or former domestic partner
- Child abuse, neglect, or abandonment
- Violating a domestic violence order of protection
Additionally, an “intimate partner” may be:
- A current or former domestic partner
- A current or former spouse
- A current or former dating partner
- Someone who lives with you
- The other parent of your child
In California, “abuse” may consist of physical or verbal actions, such as:
- Physically hurting someone
- Sexual assault
- Threats of physical harm
- Harassment, stalking, destruction of personal property, or disturbing the peace
Even as a U.S. citizen, the penalties for a domestic violence conviction can be severe, especially if your offense qualifies as a felony. You can ultimately face jail time and the loss of your Second Amendment rights if you’re convicted.
As an immigrant, the situation is more urgent. These offenses often involve evidence that may be difficult to prove in court. Still, you will need competent legal counsel on your side to challenge the evidence the prosecution has against you because if you’re convicted, you could face all the regular penalties plus deportation.
Misdemeanor and Felony Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence charges are hardly straight-forward. In California, prosecutors may decide whether to charge a person with a misdemeanor or felony depending on several factors. A defendant with a history of domestic violence may face felony charges, and so could a defendant who inflicts injuries on their victim.
An example of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense is that of spousal or domestic battery. There is no injury required to prove this offense; therefore, a person may be convicted of this crime without any proof that they caused physical harm to their victim. As a misdemeanor offense, spousal battery may lead to less severe punishment than a felony.
Misdemeanor offenses in California typically incur the following penalties:
- A sentence of up to 1 year in a county jail
- A period of informal probation
- Fines in the hundreds to thousands of dollars
Upon conviction, you could face any or all of the above plus deportation. For felony charges, the possible punishment is worse. A felony domestic violence conviction may lead to:
- A sentence of at least 1 year in a state prison
- A period of formal probation that begins after serving some time in prison
- Fines in the thousands of dollars
Penalties for misdemeanor and felony domestic violence offenses may also include a requirement to attend a batterer’s intervention program and/or perform community service.
Count on Attorney Dod to Fight Domestic Violence Charges in San Diego
Your lawyer will use all of his resources to gather all the evidence against you and create a defense strategy that will have the greatest chance at success in court. The goal is to avoid a conviction for a domestic violence crime that will lead to deportation. At Dod Law, attorney Dod understands the hoops you’ve jumped through to build a life in the U.S. He will do everything he can to help you preserve your way of life.
Dod has more than 17 years of experience defending domestic violence and other criminal charges in San Diego. He has worked on more than 6,500 criminal defense cases, and he has a 10.0 “Superb” Avvo rating. Call 619-814-5110 for a free consultation or complete our contact form.