We’ve talked extensively about domestic violence on this site, but “domestic violence” is not actually a specific criminal charge, but instead the name given to multiple crimes committed against one’s intimate partner. If you were arrested during a dispute between you and your partner, your Vista domestic violence lawyer can help explain which specific charges have been filed against you, which may include:
Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Inhabitant
The more serious of the two basic “domestic violence” charges, this crime occurs when someone intentionally or recklessly inflicts even a slight injury to an intimate partner. This obviously includes incidences of kicking, punching and slapping, but can also include things such as throwing an object at someone or restraining someone in a way that causes injury. This crime will either be a misdemeanor with a maximum one year jail term or a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
Domestic Battery Charges
This is the less serious of the two common domestic violence charges and occurs when one person uses violence or force against a partner or threatens violence while also inflicting emotional abuse. This charge does not require the victim to be injured and is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Criminal Threat Charges
In addition to those charges above, many people who are accused of hurting or threatening to hurt their partner are also charged with making criminal threats. This crime occurs when someone threatens to commit a crime that is likely to result in great bodily injury or death, and causes the victim to fear for his or her safety. Criminal threats can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony and as a felony it’s punishable by up to four years in prison and will also result in a strike being added to your record.
Stalking Charges in California
Stalking charges are often brought up alongside domestic violence charges involving a person’s ex. Stalking occurs when someone harasses or threatens someone until the victim fears for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family. Stalking can be a misdemeanor or felony and as a felony, it is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Aggravated Trespass Charges
When someone takes stalking or criminal threats to another level and makes a criminal threat and then within 30 days trespasses into that person’s home or work place with the intent to carry the threat out, they have committed aggravated trespass. This crime is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Restraining Order Violations
If a victim already has a restraining order in place when the aggressor commits domestic violence, then the suspect may also be charged with violating a restraining order. Violating a restraining order is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. There are many defenses to violating a restraining order, including doing so accidentally. If you have been accused of violating a restraining order, it is critical you do not talk to police until you have a Vista domestic violence attorney present.
Vandalism and Domestic Violence
While it’s legal to destroy your own property when angry, damaging communal property, property of your intimate partner or someone else’s property is not legal and is considered vandalism. In fact, causing damage to communal property can result in domestic battery charges being filed even if no physical harm was done to the victim. Unfortunately, many people are wrongly charged with this crime in domestic violence disputes because they damaged their own property, but the victim claimed it was his or hers or the police assumed it was communal property.
When property damage has been valued at less than $400, the charge will be a misdemeanor. Otherwise it will be charged as a felony, punishable by up to three years imprisonment.
Child Abuse or Endangerment
While not technically domestic violence because the victims are not intimate partners, but instead children, these are common charges filed against those accused of domestic violence, frequently at the same time. In fact, in child abuse cases where the defendant has a prior domestic battery or corporal injury charge, prosecutors will often use this fact as evidence that the defendant has a violent nature and is therefore guilty -and vice versa.
Child abuse can result in a prison sentence of up to three years, whereas child endangerment is usually a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. When child endangerment places the child at risk of great bodily injury, then it may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. As a felony, it can carry a sentence of up to six years in prison. This is another reason to make sure you always work with a top child abuse defense attorney if you have been accused of harming your children or those of others, such as a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend.
Elder Abuse Charges
Like child abuse, those who have an older person living in their home and have been accused of hurting their partners are more likely to be accused of elder abuse. This crime can be a misdemeanor or felony and as a felony, it can carry a sentence of up to four years in prison.
If you have been accused of any type of domestic disturbance crime, please call Vista domestic battery lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050. You can discuss your case in a free initial consultation located in his office, right across from the Vista jail and courthouse.
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