Published On: Wed, Mar 1st, 2023

California Domestic Violence Laws: A Quick Legal Guide

Domestic violence is sadly very common. Millions of men and women experience violence from an intimate partner every day. Children’s lives are damaged and the economic impact is huge – intimate partner violence costs the US economy more than $8 billion a year. California’s domestic violence laws are designed to help victims and bring perpetrators to justice.  

photo/ Robin Higgins via Pixabay

The Grim Statistics

A staggering one in three women has experienced physical violence from a partner. Men are not excluded: one in four men are physically abused by their intimate partner. Minor acts of violence like slapping and shoving often escalate over time. One in four women suffer more serious violence like burning and strangling. One in ten women have been raped by an intimate partner. Only 34% of these people seek medical care for their injuries; most are too afraid of the repercussions. 

This level of violence can and does lead to homicide, especially when there is a gun in the home. It isn’t just the victim who is at risk. Family members, friends, neighbors, and emergency responders are all vulnerable when around a domestic violence perpetrator. 

One out of every 15 children in the US is exposed to domestic violence. Most are eyewitnesses and some see their parents killed by their intimate partner. Exposure to intimate parent violence has a profound effect on children, negatively impacting brain development and leading to long-term mental health problems. In addition, 51% of children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to experience domestic violence as an adult.

The Law

The law in California makes it an offense to hurt or threaten to hurt an intimate partner, man or woman. This includes former partners as well as current partners, whether you dated them, married them, or just shared an apartment with them.

California’s Penal Code 13700 covers domestic abuse. 

The most common charges are domestic battery under Penal Code 243(e)(1) and inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner, Penal Code 273.5. The domestic battery statute under Penal Code 243(e) is the most common domestic violence charge in Los Angeles. 

The Consequences

The consequences of being charged and convicted of domestic violence in California are serious. Anyone found guilty faces losing custody of their children, mandatory jail time, and they will be forced to participate in a domestic violence prevention program, not to mention have a permanent criminal record. Non-citizens also face being deported to their country of origin. Perpetrators will usually be forced to pay fines and/or make victim restitution payments.

Wrongful Prosecution for Domestic Violence

Not everyone charged with domestic battery is guilty. Sometimes partners make malicious accusations to exact revenge or the defendant acted in self-defense. There is also the possibility that the accused is being made a scapegoat for someone else’s actions. 

If you have been accused of domestic battery, it’s vital that you seek immediate legal advice from an experienced domestic violence attorney. 

Whether you are a victim or you have been wrongly accused of domestic battery, help is out there. The law is on your side, so don’t delay.

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