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California Domestic Violence Lawyer  – Penal Code 13700 PC

Consult an experienced domestic violence attorney who can help you lessen the impact of your arrest

Under California law, domestic violence occurs when someone threatens or uses physical force against a vulnerable person, such as an “intimate partner,” minor, or the elderly.  Even an aggressive action that does not cause injury can result in charges. An accusation or charge of domestic violence can carry significant consequences professionally, personally, and criminally.  The facts of each situation – including prior criminal history and severity of injuries – dictate whether you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence, you should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney for direction. The domestic violence lawyers at My Rights Law have years of successful results defending individuals accused of domestic violence. Call (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure web form for a free, confidential consultation about how we can help with your case.

What Is An “Intimate Partner”

Many people consider “spousal abuse” synonymous with domestic violence, but the domestic violence laws in California extend beyond that formalized relationship.  An “intimate partner” under California law can include:

  • Someone you are or were married to, engaged to, or dating
  • Someone you are or were living with (cohabitating)
  • Someone with whom you have or had a child[1]

It is also important to note that courts in custody disputes will extend the list to include individuals related to you by blood or marriage. Evidence of domestic violence against that broader group can be used to limit your visitation time.

Domestic Battery – Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC

Under California law, a domestic battery charge does not require a visible injury, which makes this accusation potentially a powerful weapon.  A domestic battery charge only requires you to touch an “intimate partner” in anger or an offensive manner.[2]  As a misdemeanor, sentencing can include prison time and a fine, but a knowledgeable attorney may be able to help you get probation depending on the circumstances of your case.

Corporal Injury To A Spouse Or Cohabitant – Penal Code 273(5)(a) PC

If you use physical force against an “intimate partner” that causes bodily injury – even bruising – you can be charged with a felony.[3]  The court will again look at the circumstances giving rise to the injury and your prior history to decide the level of charges and punishment.  If you injured your partner, even accidentally, during an argument or interaction, contact an attorney immediately to discuss the best approach to your defense.

Stalking – Penal Code 646.9 PC

Another variety of domestic abuse includes stalking, which can result in misdemeanor or felony charges.  You can be charged with stalking if a person legitimately fears for their safety (or safety of their family) because of your actions, such as:

  • following
  • harassing
  • making credible threats[4]

These accusations can also give rise to a civil lawsuit against you.  An attorney can assist you in asserting legal defenses against these accusations – for example, you lacked the intent to cause fear, made no credible threat, or were engaged in some form of legally protected activity.

Criminal Threats – Penal Code 422 PC

If you threaten harm to another person or their family, you could be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony of making Criminal Threats.  You could be prosecuted under this law if:

  • you transmitted a threat, whether written, verbal, or electronic
  • the threat is to commit a crime that could cause serious injury or death
  • you intended for the threat to be known by the other person
  • the threat reasonably made the other person fear for life or safety[5]

Because courts generally recognize that domestic violence cases are fertile ground for false accusations and exaggerations, a good defense attorney can help you craft a defense based on the facts of your case.

Aggravated Trespass – Penal Code 601 PC

Criminal trespass in California involves entering or staying on someone’s property without the right (or their permission) to do so.  This can include failing to leave when asked and entering someone’s property with intent to cause damage. Depending on the circumstances, criminal trespass can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony.

Aggravated or felony trespass occurs when the intrusion to another’s property follows within 30 days of uttering a criminal threat (explained above).[6]  Aggravated trespass charges often arise during domestic violence cases and accompany criminal threat charges.  Defending against an aggravated trespass charge requires you to show the threat lacked credibility, that you did not intend the person to feel threatened or in fear, or that you didn’t intend to carry out the threat when you trespassed.

Revenge Porn – Penal Code 647(j)(4) PC

Revenge porn—posting online intimate videos or pictures of someone without their consent—represents a relatively newly recognized domestic violence crime. Misdemeanor criminal charges can be brought when:

  • you intentionally distribute identifiable images of another person’s intimate body parts, or an image of the person engaged in one of a variety of sexual acts
  • you had a mutual understanding that the images would remain private
  • you knew distributing the images would cause significant harm or emotional distress to the person
  • the person experienced significant emotional distress[7]

If you are facing revenge porn charges, consulting a savvy attorney can help defend you and may limit your legal exposure.

Elder Abuse – Penal Code 368 PC

Elder abuse also increasingly gives rise to domestic violence charges.  Generally encompassing either physical or financial abuse, elder abuse crimes fall under misdemeanor and felony categories. The charge depends on how much physical harm and injury is done or the financial loss incurred in these cases.

You may be charged with physical elder abuse if you:

  • endangered the life of a person aged 65 or older by causing unjustifiable pain or suffering, including mental
  • acted intentionally or with criminal negligence[8]

You may be charged with financial elder abuse if you:

  • know a person is 65 or older
  • commit a financial crime against that person[9]

Coercive Control – Senate Bill 1141 SB

In 2020, the California legislature amended the Domestic Violence Prevention Act to include acts of “coercive control” as a form of domestic violence.  The amendment prohibits “disturbing the peace of the other party” via conduct that “destroys the mental or emotional calm of the other party.”

“Coercive control” itself is an example of banned conduct.  If you engage in a pattern of actions that unreasonably interferes with a person’s “free will and personal” liberty, you can be charged.  This behavior pattern can involve:

  • direct or indirect (through a third party) contact, including all forms of electronic communication
  • seeking to isolate the individual from friends and family
  • seeking to control, surveil, or impede the individual’s ability to live freely
  • using threats to force the individual to change their behavior unwillingly

This represents an expansion of the concept of domestic violence to include emotional abuse.  Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse cannot always be seen or quantified.  An accusation of “coercive control” can expose every nuance of your life to scrutiny.  Speaking with an effective, aggressive attorney at the first hint of this issue can provide you with the knowledge necessary to mount a vigorous defense.

Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyers To Fight Your Criminal Charges

Are you facing a domestic violence charge and need to consult with a criminal defense law firm? My Rights Law will work tirelessly to defend you and protect your rights. If you are or think you may be facing domestic violence charges, contact My Rights Law immediately either at (888) 702-8882 or through our secure web form for a free consultation about how we can help you.

[1] California Penal Code 13700 PC.
[2] PC 243(e)(1): battery against a spouse, former spouse, fiancé, fiancée, romantic partner (past or present), or co-parent.
[3] PC 273.5(a).
[4] PC 646.9: “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person…”
[5] PC 422.
[6] PC 601.
[7] PC 647(j)(4).
[8] PC 368(b).
[9] PC 368 (d) and (e).

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