Domestic Violence in California
Domestic violence is defined as intentional or reckless physical abuse perpetrated against an intimate partner or a person related by consanguinity or affinity. An intimate partner of the alleged abuser may include a spouse, fiancé, someone who lives with them, a boyfriend/girlfriend, or a person with whom the person has had a child.
Consanguinity and affinity, as referred to under the California statutes, is another word for blood relatives and relatives of no-blood relation, respectively. For example, consanguinity might refer to relations such as child, grandchild, or sibling, or in the case of affinity, in-laws, aunts, or uncles.
What Constitutes Domestic Abuse?
Abuses that may be considered domestic violence are less than clear-cut. Abuses that may fall within the definition of domestic might include physical aggression, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, or stalking.
Possible Consequences & Penalties
Domestic Violence charges may be graded as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The sentences that might be imposed include:
- Mandatory minimum jail or prison time
- Restitution to victims
- Participation in domestic violence classes or anger management classes
Additionally, other mandated or collateral consequences may include loss of custody rights, loss of California gun rights, immigration repercussions such as deportation, and the issuance of protective orders against the abuser.
Understand Your Legal Defenses
Many people who are facing a domestic violence charge in San Rafael, Marin County, Sonoma County and the State of California do not fully understand the position that they are in. Because the definition of domestic violence in California is so wide-reaching, and because many circumstances fall into a grey area, many people feel that they have been wronged. At times, the circumstances of the case are not as simple as the police report may indicate. Furthermore, judges and juries may find that the allegedly abusive conduct involves circumstances that may complicate fitting the conduct into the legal definition of domestic violence.
Whether a case is black and white, or involves difficult nuances of the law, an individual accused of domestic violence will need to be prepared to defend against potentially harsh consequences.
What Defenses are Available?
Legal defenses that might be available, depending on a person’s circumstances, could include the following:
- The defense that the respondent lacks the requisite intent, or, in essence, that the conduct was an accident
- The defense that the respondent did not cause the injuries to the person
- The defense that the act was committed in self-defense or the defense of another person
- The defense that the accusation was contrived by the victim
It may be possible to demonstrate that the conduct does not rise to the level of abuse necessary to constitute the charge due to context or circumstance. This is where a skilled attorney comes into play.