Domestic Violence And Stalking
California takes domestic violence charges extremely seriously, and an accusation of domestic violence can seem nearly impossible to navigate. Being convicted of such charges can result in fines, restraining orders and imprisonment, as well as impacting every aspect of your life for decades into the future. Your criminal record is available to the public, and a conviction for domestic violence can make it challenging to obtain an education, secure a job, progress in your career, find suitable housing or maintain custody of your children. A felony conviction can lead to the revocation of your right to possess firearms, sometimes permanently.
The only way to protect your rights and preserve your future is to immediately contact an experienced domestic violence attorney to help you fight against these charges. At Exum Law Offices, our firm provides aggressive defense counsel to help you approach this challenging process so you understand your rights and always know what to expect at each stage. Review the information below to learn more about domestic violence and stalking charges, then contact us today to begin working on your defense.
Domestic Violence Law In California
According to California Penal Code 13700, domestic violence is any act of abuse perpetrated by a partner with whom you are intimate, including physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse. The law considers abuse to be any reckless or intentional use of physical force against the victim or threats of physical force. For criminal law, an intimate partner includes a current or former spouse, registered domestic partner, fiancé, cohabitant, an individual with whom the defendant shares parentage of a child or someone the defendant is currently dating or was in a romantic relationship with in the past.
When the defendant and alleged victim share a child, California custody law requires that judges consider domestic abuse allegations when making determinations about the legal and physical custody of the child. For custody disputes, the California Family Code lists additional individuals who can be considered domestic violence victims, such as the defendant’s child or any family members related by blood or marriage within the second degree, meaning siblings, half siblings, stepsiblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
Domestic Violence Charges And Penalties
Most domestic violence crimes in California are “wobblers,” meaning the court can choose to charge the crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense based on the defendant’s criminal record, the specific circumstances of the crime and the severity of the alleged victim’s injuries. Criminal penalties for a conviction include fines, county jail or state prison sentences, mandatory rehabilitation or counseling, probation, lost child visitation and custody rights, and the revocation of the right to own or use firearms.
The most common domestic violence charges and their penalties are listed below:
- Corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant: This charge is defined as willfully inflicting a corporal injury to an intimate partner by using physical force against the victim that causes them to sustain any injury and results in a “traumatic condition.” Corporal injury includes minor wounds as well as serious damage requiring extensive medical treatment. It is the only domestic violence crime that is automatically charged as a felony. Potential penalties range from a one-year term in county jail for a misdemeanor to a maximum of four years in state prison.
- Domestic battery: Inflicting force or violence of any kind against a partner with whom you are intimate is considered domestic battery, also known as spousal battery. Unlike the previous crime, domestic battery does not require showing proof of a visible injury. It is considered a misdemeanor crime and is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and/or a maximum of one year in county jail.
- Child abuse: Excluding reasonable spankings, child abuse is defined as inflicting corporal punishment on a child or causing other forms of physical injury. A first offense is punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail or three years in state prison.
- Child endangerment: This charge consists of willfully permitting a child you are caring for to come to harm or experience danger. Putting the child at risk for great bodily harm can result in a felony charge, but otherwise, this crime is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to six months in jail.
- Child neglect: A parent can face charges of child neglect if they willfully fail to provide their minor child with necessary care, including food, shelter and medical treatment. This is a misdemeanor crime punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000 and/or one year in jail.
- Elder abuse: This charge encompasses inflicting emotional or physical abuse, endangerment, neglect or financial fraud on victims 65 years old or older. This misdemeanor charge can land the accused in jail for a year; it can be up to four years in state prison for a felony.
- Criminal threats: A defendant makes a criminal threat when they threaten to physically harm or kill the alleged victim with a specific, unequivocal threat that is communicated verbally, in writing or on an electronic device, and this threat has caused the victim to become reasonably fearful for their safety or the safety of their immediate family. The state can charge the defendant with criminal threats as a form of domestic violence or with criminal threats in addition to other domestic violence charges involving force or violence. Misdemeanor convictions can lead to up to one year in jail, and felony convictions can send you to state prison for four years.
- Stalking: California law prohibits stalking, which is understood as willfully and maliciously harassing or willfully, maliciously and repeatedly following another person and making credible threats that cause them to fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family members. Stalking is charged as either a misdemeanor or felony based on the defendant’s criminal record, with misdemeanor penalties of one year in jail and felony penalties of up to three years in state prison.
- Damaging a telephone line: Disconnecting, removing, obstructing or otherwise damaging a telephone, cable, electrical line or phone equipment is considered a domestic violence crime. For example, a domestic abuser who damages a phone line to prevent their victim from calling for help could be charged with this crime. It can be charged as a misdemeanor punishable by one year in county jail or up to three years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 if charged as a felony.
- Aggravated trespass: Such trespass is defined as making a credible threat to cause serious bodily harm to a victim, then entering their home or workplace within 30 days without permission to execute this threat. A misdemeanor charge carries a penalty of up to one year in county jail, and a felony charge carries a penalty of up to three years in county jail.
- Revenge porn: This charge refers to intentionally distributing an image of an identifiable person that contains a view of their intimate parts or scenes of sexual activity when a clear understanding existed between both parties that the image would remain private between them and with the purpose of causing the victim to experience emotional distress. Revenge porn is a misdemeanor crime carrying a penalty of up to one year in county jail and $1,000 in fines.
- Posting harmful information on the internet: Also called “indirect electronic harassment,” posting harmful information on the internet involves sending electronic communications or posting information online about another person with the intent of prompting others to harass that person and cause them to become fearful of their safety or the safety of their immediate family. This is a misdemeanor offense punishable by one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation Now
If you have been charged with domestic violence or stalking, contact Exum Law Offices immediately. Our firm has over 25 years of experience providing expert criminal defense representation to accused clients in Riverside, San Bernardino and the Inland Empire. We have the legal knowledge, resources and litigation skills to create a strong defense against even the most serious charges and aggressively advocate for you from the moment you are arrested until we reach an optimal outcome in your case.
Domestic abuse charges are never easy to face, but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact Exum Law Offices today by calling us at 951-934-0227 to schedule a consultation and start working on your defense. With our help, you can effectively tackle these charges, protect your freedom and move forward with your life.