In California, domestic violence includes any act of battery against a spouse, romantic partner or close family member. When facing these charges, you must follow the provisions of existing protective orders to avoid further legal action.

Learn more about the California laws governing domestic violence before facing a court date for this charge.

Penalties for domestic violence conviction

The potential criminal sentence for domestic violence varies depending on the severity of the person’s injuries. California can impose either misdemeanor or felony charges for this offense. Battery against a partner, spouse or household member with no aggravating factors is usually a misdemeanor that can result in:

  • Up to a year in jail
  • Counseling and probation in lieu of jail time
  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Possible restitution to the victim
  • Loss of child custody
  • Immigration consequences such as deportation if applicable

When the battery caused serious bodily injury, a convicted offender can receive felony charges that carry two to four years in state prison. The court may also order a fine of up to $6,000. These increased penalties also apply if a child witnessed the assault, the offender used or threatened to use a weapon, or the offender has a prior history of battery.

Often, domestic violence charges occur in tandem with other criminal charges. For example, a stalking offense can result in one to three years in prison. Damaging a phone line to prevent someone from calling for help can result in felony charges that carry up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Defenses in domestic violence cases

You may qualify for dismissed or downgraded charges if you can prove that you acted in self-defense. You can also provide evidence that both parties committed violence against one another, that the injury occurred by accident or that the plaintiff is making false accusations against you. While your court case is pending, abide by the terms of any restraining order or protective order against you.