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Is Domestic Violence a Criminal Case in California?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Domestic violence is a serious issue affecting individuals and families throughout the United States. In California, domestic violence is considered a criminal case. It is defined as any form of abuse, physical, sexual, emotional, or financial, that occurs between individuals who have a relationship, such as a current or former spouse, cohabitant, or dating partner.

Domestic violence can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the abuse and the circumstances surrounding the case. Some examples of domestic violence crimes include:

  • Physical abuse, which is using physical force against another person, such as hitting, pushing, or restraining them. It can result in serious injuries or even death.
  • Sexual abuse, which refers to any non-consensual sexual act, including rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. It can also include sexual exploitation, such as forcing someone to engage in prostitution or pornography.
  • Emotional abuse, which is a form of abuse that can be just as damaging as physical abuse. It involves the manipulation, intimidation, or belittling of another person, often to control them. Examples of emotional abuse include verbal abuse, isolation, and manipulation.
  • Financial abuse, which refers to using money or other resources to control or exploit another person. For example, it can involve withholding money, restricting access to bank accounts, or using someone’s financial resources without consent.
  • Assault and battery, which are criminal offenses involving the intentional use of force or violence against another person. Assault refers to threatening someone with violence, while battery refers to the physical act of violence.
  • Stalking or harassment, which involves repeated, unwanted contact or behavior that causes fear or distress in the victim. It can include phone calls, emails, in-person visits, and following or surveilling someone.
  • Kidnapping, which is taking someone against their will and holding them captive. It can also include taking someone across state lines or holding them for ransom.
  • Domestic threats, which are any threats of violence or harm against a person in a domestic relationship, such as a spouse, partner, or family member. These threats can take many forms, including verbal, written, or online threats.

If someone is charged with domestic violence, they may face penalties such as fines, probation, and jail or prison time. In addition, they may also be ordered to attend a batterer’s treatment program or counseling. Finally, they may be subject to a restraining order that prohibits them from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the victim.

Domestic violence charges can also significantly impact a person’s life beyond the criminal justice system. For example, someone charged with domestic violence may lose their job, have trouble finding housing, or have difficulty maintaining relationships with friends and family.

It is important to remember that domestic violence is not just physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse can be just as damaging, if not more so, and can also be considered domestic violence. Examples of emotional and psychological abuse include verbal abuse, intimidation, isolation, and manipulation.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, seek help immediately. Several resources are available in the state to victims of domestic violence, including hotlines, shelters, and counseling services. Additionally, victims of domestic violence can file for a restraining order, which can provide them with legal protection and help keep them safe from their abuser.

The court process for domestic violence cases can be complex and overwhelming for the victim. In many cases, the prosecution will rely on the victim’s testimony to prove the case against the abuser. However, the victim may fear retaliation from the abuser and not want to testify. In such cases, the prosecution may use other forms of evidence, such as photographs, medical records, or witness testimony, to prove their case. The prosecution may also use the abuser’s prior criminal history as evidence of their pattern of abuse.

Domestic violence cases are taken very seriously, and the courts will do everything they can to protect victims and hold abusers accountable for their actions. However, the best way to ensure justice is served is to seek legal help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. An experienced domestic violence attorney can help you with your case and protect your rights.


Q: What Is the Punishment for Domestic Violence Cases?

A: The punishment for a domestic violence case in California varies depending on the severity of the abuse and the circumstances surrounding the case. It can include fines, probation, and jail or prison time. It may also include a batterer’s treatment program or counseling and a restraining order that prohibits the abuser from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the victim.

Q: How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay on Your Record?

A: Domestic violence convictions can stay on your criminal record indefinitely. It may appear in background checks and can impact your ability to get a job, housing, or other opportunities. However, it may be possible to have your record sealed or expunged in some cases, removing the conviction from your record.

Q: What Is a Restraining Order?

A: A restraining order is a court order that legally requires one person to stay away from another. Restraining orders are commonly used in domestic violence cases to protect the victim from further abuse. For example, they can restrict the abuser’s contact with the victim and their movement within a certain area, and prohibit them from possessing weapons. A restraining order can also provide other measures of safety, such as ordering the abuser to pay rent or move out of a shared home.

Q: Are Domestic Violence Cases Handled Differently Than Other Criminal Cases?

A: Yes. The courts often treat domestic violence cases more seriously and may result in harsher punishments than other criminal cases. Additionally, victims of domestic violence may be able to receive special protections, such as a restraining order, and may be able to receive assistance from victim advocacy services. Victims of domestic violence must seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide guidance and help protect their rights.

Contact Exum Law Offices Today

Domestic violence is an atrocious crime, and justice needs to uplift and protect those victims. The attorneys at Exum Law Offices are dedicated to providing legal services that protect the rights of those affected by domestic violence. Connect with us today to investigate your legal options and get the justice you deserve.