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California Domestic Violence Laws, Offenses, and Penalties

California’s domestic violence laws begin at California Family Code Section 6203. These laws provide legal protections for domestic partners, children, elderly persons, and other vulnerable persons from mental and/or physical abuse. In the State of California, it is illegal to threaten or harm a child, spouse, partner, or relative. It is also against the law to touch or handle a child, spouse, partner, or relative roughly even if there is no mark, bruise, or injury.

If you or someone you love is being accused of domestic violence, the consequences of a conviction are severe and life-changing. The following penalties could be handed down to the defendant found guilty of domestic violence or abuse in California:

  • Expensive fines;
  • Deportation, if you are a non-U.S. citizen.
  • Lengthy jail time;
  • Loss of firearms;
  • Loss of 2nd Amendment rights;
  • Loss of visitation of children;
  • Loss of child custody;
  • Loss of use of the house or real property;
  • Receive a restraining order against you;
  • Paying money to the victim for counseling, loss earnings, and medical bills;
  • Public embarrassment;
  • Loss of employment;
  • Criminal record;
  • Other punishments.

If you or someone you love has been arrested on a domestic violence charge in San Jose, it is crucial that you or your loved one speaks with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys as quickly as possible. Remain silent. Be respectful to the police. Call San Jose Criminal Defense Attorney Wesley Schroeder at 408-277-0377.

California Penal Code 13700 Domestic Violence

California Penal Code 13700 states that it is illegal to use physical force or threaten to use force on an intimate partner such as a spouse, ex-spouse, child, live-in partner, or relative. According to California’s Family Code, it illegal to use or threaten to use force on relatives by marriage or any relative by blood to two degrees. In other words, it is considered illegal domestic violence when an individual uses force or threatens to use force on a brother, sister, cousin, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, step-children, brother-in-law, mother-in-law, or any other close relative.

California PC 243(e)(1) Domestic Battery

California’s domestic battery law, PC 243(e)(1), is extremely broad and vague. The law makes it illegal to touch any of the aforementioned intimate partners in such a way that the touch is deemed harmful. An act of domestic violence does not need to leave a mark, bruise, or injure the accuser. Also, the accused doesn’t even have to have the intent to harm the accuser for the act to be considered domestic violence. The accuses simply needs to prove the accused willfully touched them rudely or angrily.

In California, a domestic battery charge is usually a misdemeanor charge. Misdemeanor domestic violence is punishable with up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $2,000, probation, and potentially other punishments.

California PC 273.5 Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant

In California, the crime of “corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant” is a more severe form of domestic battery. This crime is either charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the events’ circumstances. If convicted, first-time offenders could receive up to a year in the county jail. Repeat offenders may receive up to four years in state prison if convicted. This crime is similar to domestic battery, but this crime is described as the harmful touching of an intimate partner resulting in injury.

California PC 273d Child Abuse 

In California, the crime of child abuse is a crime that prosecutors pursue aggressively. Child abuse can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor offense. Misdemeanor child abuse charges are punished by up to one year in the county jail. Felony child abuse is punished with up to 6 years in state prison.

There are three elements necessary to prove child abuse has occurred:

  1. The accused willfully inflicted an injury or cruel punishment on a child;
  2. The injury or punishment caused the child to experience a traumatic physical condition; and
  3. The accused’s actions were not a reasonable form of discipline on a child.

In California, a parent is permitted to spank their children, just not in excess. Since domestic violence laws leave a lot of room for interpretation on how the law is applied, it is essential that you or your loved one retains and an experienced child abuse defense lawyer.

California Child Endangerment — PC 273a

Child endangerment is a crime in California that does not require the victim to sustain an injury. Child endangerment crimes may be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the risk of serious bodily harm or risk of death to the child.

Misdemeanor child endangerment crimes are punished with up to one year in the county jail. Felony child endangerment crimes are punished with up to 6 years in the state prison.

California Child Neglect — PC 270

In the State of California, child neglect is a misdemeanor crime. Child neglect is defined as to willfully fail to provide food, shelter, medical care, or clothing to a child. It is possible to be charged with child neglect, even if you have no visitation rights or no parental rights of the child. If convicted for child neglect, the accused could be punished with one year in county jail plus a fine of no more than $2,000.

If you, a friend, or a family member have been arrested, contact our law offices today to discuss the legal matter. Our San Jose criminal law experience is exceptional, having served the people of the South San Francisco Bay Area for 40 years. The Law Office of Wesley Schroeder is ready to get started on your case. Call (408) 277-­0377 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with our firm today.