Domestic Violence

When police are called to the scene of a domestic dispute they must follow certain guidelines that almost uniformly result in one of the parties being arrested. Because of this, domestic violence is very frequently charged in California. The blanket term “domestic violence” can include such common crimes as assault, battery and criminal threats, with the additional element that the victim be a spouse, partner or cohabitant.

Domestic violence is frequently charged under Penal Code section 273.5: Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant, Penal Code 243(e)(1): Domestic Battery, or Penal Code section 245(a)(1): Assault with Force Likely to Cause Great Bodily Injury. These offenses are “wobblers”, meaning they may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

If convicted of domestic violence, where probation is granted a defendant may be sentenced to 36 months of summary probation, up to $5000 in fines to a womens’ shelter, ordered attendance at a 52-week batter’s treatment program, and a protective order restraining the defendant from further threats, stalking or contact. The maximum penalty when charged as a misdemeanor is 1 year in county jail and a $6000 fine. Depending on the circumstances including the severity of injuries, a prosecutor may elect to charge the crime as a felony, in which case a defendant may be facing up to 4 years in prison.

The most common defense to any charge of battery is self-defense. To prove self-defense a defendant must prove that 1) He was responding to an imminent threat, 2) He reasonably believed he would be harmed, and 3) he used no more force than necessary to respond to that harm. Self-defense makes for a very powerful defense especially when coupled with the “reasonable doubt” standard, which says it is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that self-defense did not occur.

If you are arrested for any domestic violence charge, it is important that you contact a skilled defense attorney immediately. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Terrell knows what it takes to get the best possible result for your situation.

The information contained on this website represents opinion only and is not intended to, nor should be relied on as legal advice of any kind. Should you wish to consult with an attorney, contact an attorney at the Law Office of Jesse Terrell at (323) 638-4712.
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