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California  Spousal Abuse Lawyer – Penal Code 243 PC

Do You Need A Spousal Abuse Attorney?

If you have been charged with spousal abuse or a related domestic violence offense, you’ll want to speak with a criminal defense attorney experienced in spousal abuse cases for guidance. The domestic violence lawyers at My Rights Law have years of experience in defending individuals in spousal abuse cases. You’ll need a powerful defense to spousal abuse accusations, and you can find that at My Rights Law. Contact our legal team by calling (888) 702-8882 or through our secure web form for your free consultation.

California Penal Code 243 makes it a crime to hurt (or threaten to hurt) a present or former spouse, cohabitant, co-parent, date, or intimate partner.

Punishments For Spousal Abuse In California – Penal Code 243

In addition to a jail or prison sentence, the consequences of a California domestic violence conviction can include:

  • Mandatory minimum jail time
  • Mandatory participation in a “batterer’s intervention program” [1]
  • Fines[2]
  • A restraining order
  • Loss of custody rights
  • Loss of California gun ownership
  • A permanent criminal record, and
  • Immigration consequences for non-citizens, including deportation

Defending California Domestic Violence Charges

Our California domestic violence attorneys can help individuals fight back. Legal defenses to these charges include demonstrating that:

  • It was an accident;
  • The injuries did not result from your actions;
  • You acted in self-defense or defense of another person; or
  • The victim lied.

Who Counts As a Victim?

California domestic violence laws define “domestic violence” as abuse against an “intimate partner.” An “intimate partner” is [3]:

  • A current or former spouse,
  • A current or former registered domestic partner,
  • A current or former fiancé(e),
  • A current or former live-in romantic partner (a “cohabitant”),
  • A person you have a child with, or
  • Someone you are seriously dating

The California Family Code has a long list of individuals who can be considered victims of domestic violence. In addition to partners in an intimate relationship, victims can include:

  • Your child,
  • Any other person related by blood or marriage or marriage, including:
    • Brothers and sisters,
    • Half-brothers and half-sisters,
    • Step-brothers and step-sisters,
    • Grandparents,
    • Grandchildren,
    • Aunts and uncles, and
    • Nephews and nieces.

What Are The Common Spousal Abuse Crimes And Punishments?

In California, common “domestic violence” crimes include battery, abuse, threats, and neglect. Some of these offenses are misdemeanors. Others are felonies.

But most of these crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on:

  • The circumstances of the offense,
  • The seriousness of the victim’s injuries (if any), and
  • Your criminal record (if any).

Corporal Injury To A Spouse Or Cohabitant

It is a felony to inflict a “corporal injury” resulting in even a slight physical injury to an intimate partner. Possible penalties range from one year in county jail to four years in California state prison.[4]

Domestic Battery

It is a misdemeanor to inflict force or violence on an intimate partner. This law does not require a visible injury. Domestic battery is a misdemeanor. Punishment can include a fine of up to $2,000 or one year in county jail.

Child Abuse

California’s “child abuse” law makes it a crime to inflict injury on a child. Reasonable spankings are allowed, but any cruel punishment that causes injury is considered child abuse in California. A first child abuse offense can be punished by up to one year in county jail or three years in state prison.

Is Domestic Abuse A Felony?

The following domestic abuse-related offenses can be felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the case. These offenses include:

  • Child abuse
  • Child endangerment
  • Elder abuse
  • Criminal threats
  • Stalking
  • Damaging a phone line
  • Aggravated trespass

When Can You Receive Probation Instead Of Jail Time?

A judge may be willing to sentence a domestic abuser to probation if:

  • It is their first offense, or
  • The victim’s injuries are not significant.[5]

Probation is more likely when the case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. Felony charges are typically brought when the victim suffers a significant injury.

If you are given probation, you might still be sentenced to a minimum of jail time. In exchange, you will be subject to probation conditions. If you violate probation conditions, the judge can send you to prison or jail.

What Are The Additional Consequences Of A California Spousal Abuse Conviction?

A conviction for battery or abuse often results in more than just jail time and a fine. Additional results of a California domestic violence conviction can include some or all of the following:

Mandatory Minimum Jail Time

Most California counties impose a minimum jail sentence of 30 days for a domestic violence conviction. This is true even if the charge is a misdemeanor and a first offense.

Payment To The Victim & Domestic Violence Fund

Someone convicted of domestic violence may be ordered to pay the victim “restitution” in California. This can include paying for the victim’s:

  • Medical bills,
  • Mental health counseling,
  • Lost wages, or
  • Property damage.

You will also have to pay $500 to a domestic violence program in California.

Participation In A “Batterers’ Program”

Judges almost always demand convicted batterers attend a year-long treatment and counseling program. This is true even if the defendant is sentenced to misdemeanor probation or felony probation instead of all or part of a jail sentence.

Permanent Criminal Record

Perhaps worst of all is that a spousal abuse conviction goes on your permanent criminal record.

The conviction will appear any time someone does a routine background check. This can make it challenging to gain employment, state licensing, housing, or other benefits.

Loss Of Custody Rights

Domestic abusers are usually banned from getting custody of their minor children in California. However, they are still often able to get visitation rights. For purposes of determining custody, a criminal conviction is not required for a family law judge to determine there was domestic violence. But a judge will decide there was domestic violence if one parent was convicted of a crime of domestic violence against the other parent within the previous five years.

California Spousal Abuse Defense Lawyers

There are numerous consequences for convicted defendants in domestic violence cases, and the consequences are more severe in cases of serious physical abuse. A domestic violence attorney representing the alleged victim will try to get a domestic abuse injunction, the most immediate remedy available for alleged spousal abuse.

Without the help of a criminal defense attorney, an individual with domestic violence allegations against them may face a variety of serious legal consequences in short order, including:

  • A domestic violence charge;
  • A civil lawsuit; and
  • Collateral consequences (e.g., loss of employment).

Specifically, you’ll want a domestic violence lawyer on your side helps you avoid criminal penalties, including a jail or prison sentence and monetary criminal fine. Domestic violence allegations may also lead to a civil lawsuit. An alleged victim may sue their partner or spouse in civil court for physical abuse. If found liable, the abuser may be required to pay costs, including:

  • Hospital fees;
  • Counseling fees;
  • Pain and suffering damages; and
  • Attorney’s fees.

How Can A My Rights Law California Spousal Abuse Lawyer Help?

California law enforcement agencies take claims of spousal abuse very seriously. Someone accused of domestic violence for allegedly hitting or threatening a spouse or child may be cut off from family and unable to go home.

Our experienced criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience investigating and trying cases of alleged spousal abuse. We understand how judges decide when to issue a domestic violence restraining order and what punishment is deserved. When we get involved early in a case, we can persuade the prosecutor not to file charges or negotiate a plea bargain that allows our clients to avoid the negative effects of a domestic abuse conviction.

If your case does go to a jury trial, we will make sure your side of the story is told. Contrary to what you may have heard, winning a domestic violence case is possible.

A domestic violence charge can not only affect your present circumstances because of possible jail times, fines, and loss of custody of your children. It can also make things extremely difficult in your life in the future concerning jobs, child custody, and potential probation.

The attorneys at My Rights Law will review your case, and if you become a client, they will strive to represent you diligently.

Contact our office for a free, confidential consultation if you or a loved one faces spousal abuse charges. You may wish to reach out soon so that a lawyer can get started on your case. Contact an experienced My Rights Law spousal abuse attorney today by calling us at (888) 702-8882 or through our secure form.

We can help you with your charge. We offer free consultations 24/7 and are here to fight for your constitutional rights. Contact us today.

[1] PC 243(e)(1).
[2] PC 243(e)(1).
[3] Penal Code 273.5(b).
[4] Penal Code 273.5(a).
[5] People v. Killion, (2018) 24 Cal. App. 5th 337, 233 Cal. Rptr. 3d 911.

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