Peter Blair | June 20, 2022 | Domestic Violence
You may serve time in jail if you are convicted of domestic violence in San Diego. However, how much time you’re looking at for a domestic violence charge depends on the facts of your case.
Domestic violence is a crime. California courts take allegations of domestic violence seriously. The best way to avoid serving time is to hire an experienced San Diego domestic violence lawyer to defend you.
What Types of Behavior Does Domestic Violence Cover?
Several violent crimes are included under the umbrella of domestic violence. It can include physical, emotional, and financial abuse. However, the critical factor is the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.
Domestic violence occurs when the victim is:
- A current or former spouse
- The parent of the perpetrator’s child
- A current or former fiancé
- Current and former roommates or cohabitants
- A current or former romantic partner
Examples of conduct or crimes that could result in a domestic violence charge include, but are not limited to:
- Sex crimes
- Domestic battery
- Violating a protective order
- Criminal threats
- Child endangerment
- Elder abuse
- Stalking and cyberstalking
- Child abuse
In addition to bringing general domestic violence charges, a prosecutor could pursue a felony charge under California Penal Code §273.5 if the domestic violence involves the willful infliction of traumatic injury.
How Much Time Could I Serve for a Domestic Violence Conviction in California?
The penalties for domestic violence can include fines, mandatory counseling, probation, restitution, restraining orders, and jail time.
The amount of jail time depends on:
- The charges
- The circumstances of the case
- The defendant’s criminal history
- The seriousness of the victim’s injuries
Many domestic violence crimes are wobbler offenses. Therefore, the prosecutor can charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony offense. A felony domestic violence charge generally carries longer mandatory prison sentences.
For example, a misdemeanor domestic battery conviction can result in a one-year jail sentence. However, charges under Penal Code §273.5 can result in up to four years in prison.
A first-offense misdemeanor child abuse charge can result in one year in county jail or up to three years in prison. A misdemeanor elder abuse charge is a year in jail. But a felony elder abuse conviction can result in up to four years in state prison.
In some cases, felony domestic violence charges could result in 25 years to life in prison if you have prior felony convictions. Felony domestic violence convictions count against California’s Three Strikes Law.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges in San Diego
You can and should fight domestic violence charges. The consequences of a domestic violence conviction go beyond jail time.
You are innocent until proven guilty. However, that doesn’t mean you should not hire a defense lawyer and mount an aggressive defense to the charges.
Potential defenses to domestic violence charges include:
- Mistaken identity
- You lacked the intent to commit the crime
- The alleged victim is making false allegations of domestic violence
- You have an alibi for the time of the alleged crime
- You were acting in self-defense or defense of another person
- Legal challenges to the arrest, charges, or evidence
The state must prove its case against you. A San Diego domestic violence attorney understands the law and the legal elements required for a conviction. Your lawyer will hold the state accountable for proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Should You Do if You Are Accused of Domestic Violence in San Diego?
Most domestic violence arrests begin with a call to 911. The alleged victim calls the police to report the abuse. Police officers generally err on the side of caution and arrest you if there is even the slightest evidence to establish probable cause.
Resisting arrest or arguing with the police officers that you are not guilty of domestic violence could make matters worse. Instead, remain calm and respectful. However, do not answer questions or make a statement without a lawyer present.
After your release, do not attempt to contact the alleged victim. Any attempt to communicate with the victim could result in additional charges. It also could make it more difficult to fight the charges.
Instead, work with your defense lawyer to gather evidence refuting the domestic violence charges. Write a summary of your relationship with the victim and the events that led to the criminal charges. Also, include a list of witnesses who can testify on your behalf and a summary of each witness’s information.
Trust that your criminal defense attorney in San Diego is working to have the domestic violence charges dropped or dismissed. If a dismissal or acquittal is not possible, your lawyer can negotiate a plea deal to try to keep you out of jail.