Domestic Violence & Abuse
Domestic violence laws in California make it illegal to use physical force against or threaten harm to an intimate partner. Under Penal Code 273.5 PC, the infliction of corporal injury on an intimate partner is a serious crime. It is alternately known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, intentional infliction of corporal injury and wilful infliction of corporal injury.
To be guilty of wilful or intentional infliction of corporal injury, a person must intentionally injure their intimate partner physically, causing a “traumatic condition”. The presence of concrete physical injury distinguishes this crime from the lesser offence of domestic battery.
An “intimate partner” is defined as a:
- Spouse or ex-spouse
- Cohabitant or ex-cohabitant
- Fiancé(e) or former fiancé(e),
- Father or mother of that person’s child
- A person that a defendant used to date
Under California law, the domestic violence crime of willful infliction of corporal injury may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances and the criminal history of the accused. If charged as a misdemeanor, it carries a potential sentence of up to one year in jail, and / or a fine of up to $6,000. Felony charges are more serious and can send a person to state prison for up to four years. Judges usually require defendants to also go to a 52-week domestic violence class.
Although domestic violence crimes are rarely punished at the federal level, it is a federal crime to travel across state lines to commit an act of domestic violence, or force / coerce an intimate partner into crossing state lines if the end result is physical injury. Terms of imprisonment range from 5 years to life if the crime ends in the victim’s murder.
If an order of protection is in place, it is a federal crime to cross state lines to violate the order or persuade someone to travel to another state in violation of the order.
Child abuse, Child endangerment, Criminal threats, Domestic battery, Elder abuse
Anyone arrested on a domestic violence charge needs to retain a California criminal defense attorney immediately. A conviction goes one’s permanent record, making it difficult to obtain certain types of employment and other state benefits. If the accused is not a U.S. citizen a conviction will cause deportation, as domestic violence crimes are regarded as “crimes of moral turpitude”.
Successful defenses to a California domestic violence charge include self-defense; failure to act willfully or with the required intent, and false accusation.
On June 23, 2013 the rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson III) was arrested for destroying the Los Angeles condo of his ex-girlfriend and allegedly kicking her during an argument, causing an injury. He was charged with domestic assault and four counts of vandalism, for a total of five misdemeanors. If found guilty of all charges he would have served up to five years in prison and been fined $46,000.