When most people imagine a victim of domestic violence, they tend to think of a battered wife with a black eye and cuts on her face. But not only can a victim be a man as well, but the victim doesn’t need to have visible injuries in order for the aggressor to be charged or convicted of domestic violence. In fact, domestic violence doesn’t have to result in injures and some people charged with this crime without ever even touching the alleged victim. And this is why simply saying “look, there are no marks on her (or him)” is not a defense and could even hurt your case in some situations. This is why you should always refuse to speak to police without your domestic violence defense lawyer present.
Domestic Violence Doesn’t Need to Leave Physical Injuries
Contrary to common belief, victims of domestic violence don’t have to be injured. California Penal Code 13700 defines “domestic violence” as abuse against an intimate partner, with the abuse including the intentional or reckless use (or threat of use) of physical force. Note that even the threat of violence is enough to qualify as domestic violence, particularly when combined with emotional abuse.
Not only that, but there are many instances where people may act in a violent manner without actually injuring their victim. For example, throwing something at someone (even if it does not hit them), spitting at someone, blocking someone’s way or grabbing something from the victim’s hands are all violent acts that may not cause injury. These are some of the many reasons domestic violence doesn’t have to result in injures. If you’re not sure if a particular action you took could be result in domestic violence charges, it’s best to ask your attorney before mentioning it to the police or even the victim.
Types of Domestic Violence Charges in CA
The good news is that there are two main levels of domestic violence charges in California. The first, corporal injury, can be a felony or a misdemeanor and is far more serious than the second, domestic battery. While corporal injury charges can be filed when a victim is injured even slightly, any case where the alleged victim has not been physically injured will be filed as domestic battery. This charge is always misdemeanor and those convicted may face up to 1 year in county jail, $2,000 in fines and a loss of your Second Amendment right to own firearms.
It is also possible to be charged with domestic violence vandalism, which is similar to standard vandalism charges only you will face mandatory minimum penalties. This form of domestic violence doesn’t necessarily involve physical injuries and even if you only destroyed communal property, you can still be convicted.
Fighting Domestic Battery Charges in California
There are many ways to fight domestic violence charges, but it’s important to speak to your lawyer to find the right defense for your specific case. Your attorney may argue that because there was no visible injury, corporal injury charges should be no more than domestic battery charges. In other cases, he may argue that the victim doesn’t meet the definition of an intimate partner, and that you may, instead only face regular assault or battery charges rather than domestic violence charges. Sometimes, he may help you fight the charges altogether by arguing that there is too little evidence against you or that the “victim” was making false allegations. Attempting one defense that doesn’t suit your circumstances could hurt your chances of using another defense successfully.
Even if a corporal injury charge is filed as a felony, a defense lawyer can argue for either the D.A. or the judge to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. After an arrest but before charges are filed is often the best time for a lawyer to present evidence to the prosecutor to persuade them not to file or reduce the charges.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation. His office is conveniently located across from the Vista courthouse and the Vista jail.
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