An accusation of domestic violence can change the course of your life in an instant. In addition to the shame and frustration that come from society’s unfavorable perception towards people facing this charge, domestic violence convictions can result in jail time, loss of rights, substantial fines, mandatory counseling, and a lifelong criminal record.
If you are being investigated for domestic violence, have been charged with the crime of domestic violence, or were served with a domestic violence restraining order; it’s important to retain an attorney as soon as possible. Experienced Santa Barbara criminal defense attorney, Christy Horowitz, understands the sensitive, personal nature of these cases and will work to bring you the best solution possible from an unfortunate situation. She is dedicated to using her knowledge as a former prosecutor to resolve cases favorably for her clients and tailor her representation to their needs.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWS
In California, domestic violence is defined broadly and the laws governing it are complex. Generally, it refers to a crime perpetrated against a person with whom you have a special, close relationship. The relationship between you and the alleged victim raises an offense to the level of domestic violence. Many crimes fall into the same category of cases and require a vigorous defense. Among others, this includes domestic battery, stalking, harassment, child abuse, violating a protective order and criminal threats.
Domestic violence is any type of violence or abuse by someone against a victim whose relationship to them is:
- A spouse or ex-spouse
- An ex-romantic partner
- A current romantic partner
- Their child’s parent
- A current or former roommate
- Their child, parent, sibling, or other family member
The violence or abuse does not have to be physical in nature – it can be emotional or mental as well and include acts like intimidation, depriving someone of daily human rights or threats. However, to be convicted it must be proven that:
- You willfully inflicted bodily injury on the victim, and
- The victim had a relationship with you like those listed above.
CONSEQUENCES FOR A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION
Domestic violence convictions result in serious consequences potentially following you for a lifetime. Depending on whether you are convicted of misdemeanor or felony domestic violence – a choice the prosecutors can make depending on the facts of your case – you may face up to 4 years in prison and fines up to $6,000 for a felony and up to 1 year in county jail for a misdemeanor.
Having prior convictions for certain offenses such as battery or assault can bring enhanced penalties including up to 5 years behind bars and fines up to $10,000. Prior domestic violence convictions result in similar enhanced penalties on a subsequent conviction. Felony convictions with a prior felony conviction on your record means California’s enhanced sentencing under “Three Strikes Law” may apply as well.
Keep in mind the jail time and fines are in addition to the possibility of:
- Formal probation up to 3 years
- A restraining order lasting up to 10 years
- A protective order against certain behavior towards the victim
- Domestic violence class completion
- Professional license revocation
- Loss of child custody
- Immigration issues or deportation (domestic violence is a crime of moral turpitude which can affect your immigration status)
- Fines and fees to a battered women’s shelter up to $5,000 and/or reimbursing the victim for reasonable medical and mental health service expenses from the crime
- Community service
- Counseling – including substance abuse classes
If convicted of a felony you lose your rights to own a gun, become ineligible for certain jobs within the government and other areas, cannot vote or serve on a jury. You’ll also be left with a lasting record you must disclose when seeking jobs, loans, rental properties, and more. The seriousness of these consequences means it’s important to have a proactive, knowledgeable, dedicated criminal defense attorney in your corner fighting to protect your future.