Yes, you could go to jail if convicted of domestic violence in San Diego. When law enforcement officers arrive at a scene of domestic violence, they determine who was the aggressor or primary instigator. Then, the police arrest that person and take them to jail.

California courts view charges of domestic violence very seriously. These charges generally carry enhanced penalties because of the close relationship between the parties. 

What Is Considered Domestic Violence in California?

Under California law, domestic violence is a crime. The criminal act is based on the close relationship of the defendant with the alleged victim. 

Domestic violence includes emotional abuse and physical violence. It could also include financial abuse. 

Examples of domestic violence cases include situations involving:

Domestic battery is a common charge for domestic violence. California law defines battery as the willful and unlawful use of violence or force against another person. 

Domestic battery occurs when a violent act is committed against:

  • Spouses or former spouses
  • Current or former romantic partners
  • A fiancé 
  • The parent of the alleged abuser’s child
  • Current and former roommates or cohabitants

The prosecution may bring more serious domestic violence charges under California Penal Code §273.5 if the defendant willfully inflicted a traumatic injury on the alleged victim. Traumatic injuries may include external or internal injuries, wounds, and injuries caused by suffocation or strangulation. 

What Are the Punishments for Domestic Violence Convictions in California?

Allegations of domestic violence may be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. When the police officers book you on felony domestic violence charges, it increases the bail amount. Therefore, you could remain in jail for a few days until your arraignment. 

If you are convicted of domestic violence, the court may impose penalties including:

  • Jail or prison sentences, including minimum mandatory sentences 
  • Fines and assessments
  • Probation 
  • Mandatory counseling 
  • Participation in a domestic violence program
  • Restitution to the victim
  • Payments to a battered women’s shelter
  • A restraining order dramatically restricting your rights

The prison sentence for a domestic violence conviction could include 25 years to life if you have prior felony convictions. In addition, domestic violence convictions count against California’s Three Strikes Law.

Even if you do not serve a lengthy jail sentence for domestic violence, a conviction could have collateral consequences. For example, if you violate a restraining order, you face additional criminal charges and penalties.

A domestic violence conviction could also cause problems in family court, including cases involving child custody. You could lose your right to possess or own a firearm. A criminal record may adversely affect your career, job search, professional reputation, housing, and immigration status. 

Domestic violence charges can have a profound impact on your personal reputation. A strong defense is the best way to protect your reputation and future. 

What Defenses Can I Use to Fight Domestic Violence Charges?

An arrest for domestic violence can be overwhelming. Many people are not familiar with the process of a domestic violence case. The state must prove the legal elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction.

However, do not rely on “innocent until proven guilty” to protect you against a domestic violence conviction. Working with a San Diego domestic violence defense lawyer to build a strong defense strategy is the best way to protect your legal rights and future. 

Potential defenses to your domestic violence charges include:

  • The alleged victim is lying to create false allegations of domestic violence
  • Your actions were to protect yourself or another person
  • There is a lack of intent to commit the crime
  • You have an alibi for the time of the alleged crime
  • Legal challenges to the state’s evidence against you

There could be other legal defenses to domestic violence charges. The defenses used to fight the charges will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. An attorney will investigate the matter to uncover evidence you can use to clear your name. 

What Should I Do if I Am Arrested for Domestic Violence?

If you are arrested for domestic violence, do not attempt to contact the alleged victim. Do not contact their family or friends. Stay as far away from the victim as possible.

Instead, exercise your right to remain silent except ask for a team of San Diego domestic violence lawyers

Do not talk to the police or prosecutor without a lawyer present, including answering basic questions (other than your name and address). The police and prosecutor already believe you are guilty, so talking to them only provides more evidence to use against you. 

Also, do not talk to anyone other than your attorney about the domestic violence charges. Involving other people could make them witnesses for the prosecution. Instead, create a list of people you believe could help your case and give that list to your defense attorney.

Domestic violence charges are serious. Therefore, legal counsel should be your first thought after an arrest. 

If you’re facing criminal charges, call Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers at (619) 357-4977 or contact us online today.