The Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge
The time is long past when violence occurring between spouses or family members behind closed doors was a private matter. The pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. In fact, the penalties for a domestic assault conviction may be more severe than a similar assault on someone who is not related to you, or who does not share an intimate relationship with you.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, regardless of your guilt or innocence, you should fight the charge—or face the consequences. Attorney Josh S. Brownstein is a fierce advocate for his clients in San Rafael, California, as well as San Francisco, Novato, Petaluma, Marin County, and the rest of the state. He is the criminal defense attorney you will want to have in your corner as you seek to move forward.
What Is Domestic Violence?
California defines domestic violence as intentional or reckless physical abuse perpetrated against an intimate partner or a person related by consanguinity or affinity. Keep in mind that you do not need to intentionally hurt someone else to be charged. If you act in such a careless manner that the safety of another is at risk, you can also be charged with domestic violence.
The victim must be someone related to you by blood, a spouse, fiancé, girlfriend or boyfriend, partner, the other parent of a shared child, or an in-law, cousin, aunt, or uncle. “Abuse” could be physical harm, threatening harm, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, or destruction of someone else’s property.
What Are the Consequences You
Might Face if Convicted?
The justice system does not take domestic violence lightly, and the penalties for conviction reflect that. In nearly all cases, someone accused of domestic violence is likely to be arrested and held until bail is set. In the meantime, the court will issue a restraining order which orders you to have no contact with the accuser. The order could also force you to leave your home or to pay the cost for the accuser to leave it. You could also be prohibited from spending time with your minor children. The protective order may be issued before you have an opportunity to defend yourself in court.
Domestic battery charges stem from the use of force or violence, even if no actual physical harm was done. It is charged as a more serious misdemeanor offense than battery against non-domestic parties, which means the penalties are more severe. A misdemeanor conviction for domestic battery is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. You may also be required to complete a domestic violence intervention program, donate to a violence shelter, and cover the costs the victim incurs for counseling.
If you exert violence that causes bodily injury, referred to as “inflicting corporal injury,” you face a potential felony conviction. This conviction is punishable by up to four years in prison and up to $6,000 in fines. If you are a repeat offender, your prison term may increase to five years and the fine to $10,000.
Any charge or conviction related to violence, including domestic violence, will often result in the loss of your job. Employers are reluctant to risk the potential for violence against other employees and customers. A conviction can also bar you from employment in some fields, such as law enforcement and teaching. You can lose your professional licensure or certification. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you could even face deportation.
What Are Your Defenses?
The circumstances surrounding the allegations of domestic violence will dictate the potential defenses your attorney can raise. You will be wise to not answer law enforcement’s questions until you have an attorney to represent you, and to be honest with your attorney about the circumstances so they can develop a defense.
If the physical injury was unintentional, you may have a defense that could help you avoid a felony conviction. Perhaps you and your spouse were arguing. Your spouse hurries into another room and slams the door, loses their balance and falls, spraining a wrist. Although the argument is part of the incident, you did not intend to cause your spouse harm.
You may also use self-defense or the defense of another person as part of your defense strategy. Perhaps the accuser swings a baseball bat at your head, you grab the bat to stop it, and the accuser loses their balance and falls, striking their head on a table. Or perhaps the other parent of your child is going to strike that child and you get between them and grab the other parent’s wrists, causing bruising.
Another defense strategy involves refuting evidence that you were the person who caused injury to the accuser. Perhaps the accuser alleges harm in an attempt to get revenge, to evict you from the home, or to gain custody of a child.
How Brownstein Law Group, P.C. Can Help
No matter the circumstances and regardless of your guilt or innocence, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can strive to defend you against charges of domestic violence. The consequences of a conviction, even if charged with a misdemeanor, are simply too severe. These charges may follow you for the rest of your life.
Everyone deserves to have their rights protected. If you have been charged with domestic violence in or around San Rafael, California, reach out to Attorney Josh Brownstein and his team at Brownstein Law Group, P.C., right away.