Understanding the scope of domestic violence charges is essential for defendants in California, especially given the severity of penalties that it carries. 

In some situations, domestic violence charges can be felonies, and in others, they will be charged as misdemeanors. The categorization depends heavily on specific circumstances surrounding individual crimes, such as the degree of harm inflicted, prior convictions, and whether a restraining order was in effect at the time of the alleged incident.

Understanding when a felony charge applies and what defenses can be raised to combat false allegations is critical. 

What Is Domestic Violence in California?

In the State of California, domestic violence is defined as abuse or threat of abuse committed against an intimate partner. This category of people typically includes current or former spouses, cohabitants, partners you’re dating (or have previously dated), and intimate partners. 

Additionally, it’s critical to note that California law also extends these protections to relatives such as parents and children under some circumstances. 

Most Domestic Violence Charges Can Be Felonies or Misdemeanors 

California law treats domestic violence offenses with a high degree of severity, classifying them as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the specifics involved in each case. This flexible qualification is partially what makes domestic violence cases in the state complex.

The state recognizes “wobbler” offenses, which are unique types of charges that can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony based on varied factors. Most domestic violence charges in California are wobblers.

Infliction of Corporal Injury to an Intimate Partner Is Always a Felony

Under Penal Code 273.5, infliction of corporal injury to an intimate partner is always a felony in the State of California. This crime involves inflicting any type of physical injury on an intimate partner, which could be something as small as a scratch or something as serious as black eyes or broken bones.


First-time offenders face possible jail terms of 1 to 12 months in county jail or up to 4 years incarceration in state prison if found guilty.

Defendants may also face significant financial repercussions, with fines reaching up to $10,000.

Examples of Other Common Domestic Violence Charges

There are other domestic violence crimes in California that are typically wobbler crimes. Some of the most common charges include:

Domestic Battery

Domestic battery is another form of domestic violence and is classified as a wobbler. It involves the use of force or physical violence against an intimate partner.

When there is no serious injury, it is charged as a misdemeanor. For a misdemeanor conviction, there is no requirement for any physical signs of injury. In this case, you face one year in jail as well as a fine of up to $2,000. 

However, in cases where severe injuries are inflicted, the charge becomes a felony. In this case, penalties include up to 4 years In state prison and/or fines reaching $10,000.

Child Endangerment

This is another common domestic violence charge in California. Under California Penal Code 273d, willfully causing or allowing a child under your care to suffer harm or have their safety or health endangered is considered child endangerment.

This is also a wobbler offense. The determination of whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony charge primarily hinges on the degree of danger posed to the child. 


In cases where there is no potential for great bodily injury, it will always be charged as a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 6 months and/or fines not exceeding $1,000.

For felony charges, you face up to 6 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000. 

Work With a Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer To Get the Best Outcome

Handling domestic violence cases demands a balanced combination of sensitivity and legal expertise; engaging with a criminal defense attorney provides you invaluable resources that improve your chances of effectively fighting these charges.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a domestic violence lawyer

Contact a San Diego Lawyer at Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers Today For Help

For more information please contact the San Diego criminal defense lawyers at Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation, give us a call at (619) 357-4977, or visit our convenient location:

Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers – San Diego Criminal Defense Law Firm
255 Broadway, Ste 1740. San Diego, CA. 92101