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Criminal Defense

The Potential Penalties for Domestic Violence in California

By February 13, 2023November 26th, 2023No Comments
Gavel with Legal Books | Domestic Violence Attorney​​​​​​​​​​ in Los Angeles | Wegman & Levin

Like most states, California takes assault crimes seriously. Relationships between intimate partners or family members are complex, and arguments can turn heated in an instant. However, losing control for even a second can carry disastrous consequences. If law enforcement in Los Angeles County has arrested you for domestic violence, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious about how this incident will affect your freedom and future. You should contact a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Together, you can assess each detail of the case to determine the best and most strategic path forward. Let’s take a look at some of the potential penalties you could face if convicted of domestic violence in Southern California.

How California Law Defines Domestic Violence

Although California does not have a specific criminal offense labeled “domestic violence,” any bodily harm (or the threat of imminent bodily harm) against a current spouse, cohabitant, former spouse, or parent of your child can result in criminal charges. According to California Penal Code section 273.5, “Any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim…is guilty of a felony.” Corporal injuries that lead to felony charges include serious bodily harm or sexual assault. Those with previous domestic violence convictions often face more severe charges as well.

Penalties for Felony and Misdemeanor Offenses

If the incident involves corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, you will likely face felony charges. Any actions that result in a “traumatic condition,” meaning the victim suffers a wound or injury—even slight bruising—can lead to a felony charge. Prosecutors must prove that you intended to inflict harm on the victim. If convicted, you could face imprisonment in a state prison for two to four years or in a county jail for up to one year. You could also face a fine of up to $6,000. If you are accused of committing battery against a spouse, you may face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to $2,000 in fines and imprisonment for up to one year in a county jail. Additional factors, such as the severity of the injuries and having a prior history of domestic batter, will also impact the types of charges you may face.

Defending Your Freedom and Future

Even a momentary lapse in judgment can impact your life in dramatic ways. If officers arrive to arrest you for domestic battery, resist the temptation to explain the situation or clarify what happened. You have the legal right to remain silent, especially as law enforcement may use your words to build a case against you. Instead, cooperate with the officers, exercise your right to remain silent, and call a trusted criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your situation.


Call Wegman & Levin today at (818) 980-4000 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated and experienced Los Angeles County criminal defense attorney.

Michael M. Levin, Esq.

Michael M. Levin is an experienced attorney who has been in private practice as a criminal defense lawyer for over 25 years. He has conducted numerous jury trials in cases ranging from DUI to capital murder. Read More

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