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The Most Common Domestic Violence Charge

Domestic violence is a broad term used to describe a variety of crimes that occur between people who are in a particular kind of relationship. The most common domestic violence charge in California is brought under Penal Code 273.5.

Penal Code 273.5 only applies if the victim is one of the following:

  • The defendant’s current or former spouse
  • The defendant’s current or former cohabitant
  • The defendant’s significant other
  • The parent of the defendant’s child

A person violates this law when they willfully inflict corporal injury on another that results in a traumatic condition. A traumatic condition is one in which injuries can vary widely in severity — from minor bruises or scratches to much more serious harm. Under California law, a traumatic condition results when:

  • The condition was the natural and probable consequence of the injury.
  • The injury was a direct and substantial factor in causing the condition.
  • The condition would not have happened without the injury.

All three of the above elements must exist in order for an injury to be considered a traumatic condition under the law.

Penal Code 273.5 is considered a “wobbler” offense under California law. According to People v. Camarillo, wobbler offenses can either be charged as felonies or misdemeanors, giving prosecutors discretion based on the facts of the case. If a wobbler crime is originally charged as a felony, the prosecution has the discretion to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor at the time of sentencing.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you could face up to one year in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $6,000. If you are charged with a felony, you could face incarceration of two to four years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $6,000.

Felony penalties under Penal Code 273.5 are generally enhanced if the defendant has prior criminal convictions. In addition, if the crime results in great bodily injury to the victim, the crime could be considered a “strike” under California’s three-strikes law. If your domestic violence conviction is considered a strike, you will subject to a heightened sentencing requirement.

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence in Hollywood or throughout the greater Los Angeles metro area, contact our California criminal defense firm to learn what your options are. Amber Gordon, Attorney at Law defends Californians accused of domestic violence and will provide the advice and advocacy your case deserves. Call us at 310-773-3980 or contact us online to arrange a consultation at our Los Angeles office.

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