Peter Blair | December 5, 2022 | Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a serious social problem across the country. It is also a crime under the California Penal Code.
After you file a police report for domestic violence in San Diego, law enforcement officers and the prosecutor investigate the charges. The prosecutor decides whether to file domestic violence charges based on the allegations and the evidence in the case.
Until recently, victims of domestic violence had one to three years to file a police report for domestic violence. However, on October 7, 2019, Gov. Newsom signed Senate Bill 273 into law. The bill extended the time to report domestic violence to five years after the date of the alleged offense.
When Should I File a Police Report for Domestic Violence in San Diego?
If you wait to report domestic violence, the police and prosecutor will likely ask about the delay. They want to know why you waited to report abuse. The new bill’s authors extending the time to file domestic violence reports to five years pointed to various reasons why victims of domestic violence might wait to report the abuse.
Common reasons a domestic violence victim might not report abuse immediately include:
- The person has children with the abuser and hesitated to report their parent to the police
- The effects of ongoing trauma and abuse
- The age of the victim at the time of the domestic abuse
- The victim is financially dependent upon the abuser
- The abuser threatened to harm the victim or another person if the victim reported the domestic violence
- The domestic violence victim had to wait until they could secure a place for themselves and their children to remain safe before reporting domestic violence
Senate Bill 273 applies to domestic violence crimes committed on or after January 1, 2020, or five years before that date. Even though you have up to five years to report domestic violence, it is best to file a police report as soon as possible. The abuse could escalate, and evidence of the abuse could be lost by waiting to file a police report.
How Does California Define the Crime of Domestic Violence?
California Penal Code §13700 defines domestic violence as abuse committed against a minor or an adult by someone who:
- Shares a child with the victim
- Is currently having or has had a relationship with the victim
- Current spouses and former spouses
- Someone has in the past or is currently cohabitating with the victim
There are several statutes that criminal abuse as domestic violence. For example, CPC §273.5 makes it a crime to inflict corporal punishment on any of the above individuals. CPC §273d refers to child abuse, and CPC §368 covers elder abuse.
Domestic violence includes domestic battery, harassment, criminal threats, domestic battery, and stalking. Domestic battery under CPC §243(e) is a common statute to charge someone with domestic violence. Battery is defined as the unlawful and willful use of force or violence against another person.
How To Fight Old Charges of Domestic Violence in San Diego
Domestic violence victims have rights. However, so do you. If you are charged with domestic violence, you have the right to legal counsel and the right to defend yourself against criminal allegations.
The consequences of a domestic violence conviction can be severe.
A judge could order you to serve jail time of up to one year in county jail or a 2-year, 3-year, or 4-year state prison sentence. You could also be ordered to pay up to $6,000 in financial penalties. In addition, you could be ordered to attend a treatment program that could last up to a year and be subject to a protective or restraining order.
Your best chance of winning a domestic violence case is with the help of an experienced San Diego domestic violence lawyer. A lawyer conducts an independent investigation to gather evidence that could prove your innocence. The attorney also reviews and analyzes the state’s evidence against you to determine the best defense strategy to use in your case.
Potential defenses to domestic violence charges include:
- False allegations of domestic violence, which is why the claims are made months or years after the alleged abuse
- You were acting in self-defense or defense of your children
- There was no intent to commit the offense
- You have an alibi or other evidence that establishes your innocence
- The prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
- The incident was an unintentional accident
If you are arrested for domestic violence, do not talk to the police or the prosecutor without a San Diego criminal defense lawyer present. Also, do not try to contact the alleged victim. Instead, allow your lawyer to handle all matters related to the allegations to avoid making statements or mistakes that could hurt your defense.