Domestic violence is a general term for a series of offenses under California law. These crimes can include acts of violence or threats of physical harm against an intimate partner. California defines an “intimate partner” more broadly than many states, applying the term to current or former spouses, domestic partners, co-parent, or even involved in a serious relationship.
One of the most common forms of domestic violence involves live-in romantic partners or their dependents. This type of violence is known as household abuse. Like with all domestic violation allegations, household violence could involve a number of criminal acts. If you are facing prosecution for any of these offenses, discuss your options with attorney Vitaly Sigal right away
California Offenses Involving Household Abuse
There are several acts of domestic violence to could be considered household abuse. Examples include:
The state's domestic battery law applies to intimate partners that live in the same household. One of the most common domestic violence crimes, domestic battery is governed by California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1). According to the statute, domestic battery is a misdemeanor that carries up to a year in jail. This offense occurs when a person uses force or violence against an intimate partner. This does not have to involve a physical injury.
Example of Domestic Battery
Bill and Sue are dating. Although unmarried, they have lived together continuously for months. During an argument, Bill grabs Sue and throws her against the wall. She shows no outward signs of injury and tells police she is unharmed. Bill could be charged with domestic battery despite her lack of injuries.
Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Inhabitant
California Penal Code 273.5 specifically addresses certain violent acts involving a live-in household member. This offense occurs when a person inflicts a “corporal injury” on a member of their household. This offense differs from domestic battery, in that an injury is required for a conviction. Any injury will fit within the statute, no matter how minor. This offense is a felony, and a conviction could net up to four years in state prison.
Example of Corporal Injury
Consider the previous example. In this instance, Bill shoves Sue against the wall hard enough that the back of her head is cut and is bleeding. Because he caused a corporal injury, Bill could be facing felony charges.
Not all acts of household abuse relate to violence between romantic partners. It can also involve acts of abuse against a child. Physical punishment like spanking is not against the law in California. However, California Penal Code 273d outlaws any form of corporal punishment that injures a child or is unnecessarily cruel.
Child abuse is a “wobbler” in California, meaning the prosecutor can treat this charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, a conviction could result in up to a year behind bars in county jail. For a felony, you could be sentenced to 2, 4, or 6 years in state prison. This sentence could be increased to 10 years for anyone with a prior felony child abuse conviction in the previous 10 years.
Example of Child Abuse
Bob lives with his wife Susan and his step daughter Melody. After an argument, Bob loses his temper with Melody and slaps her. The slap is hard enough to leave a welt, which goes away after a few hours. Because it imposed a physical injury, Bob likely faces charges of child abuse.
Elder abuse can also be a form of household abuse. This criminal act could involve an incident with a defendant's live-in parent, grandparent, or in-law. Elder abuse is governed by California Penal Code 368.
Elder abuse can take many forms. It can involve a physical assault or intentional emotional abuse. It can also involve acts of neglect, where a defendant refuses to provide for the basic needs of an elder person in their care.
Elder abuse is a wobbler. As a misdemeanor, a conviction could result in a one-year jail sentence. As a felony, you could be sent to prison for as many as four years.
Example of Elder Abuse
Chet lives with his wife Donna and her father, an elderly man named David. Unhappy with the living arrangement, Chet routinely refuses to feed David. In some cases, he strikes his father-in-law violently. Chet could be guilty of elder abuse based on two different theories: physical assault and neglect.
Common Defenses for Abuse Charges
With the right defense, it could be possible to beat a household abuse charge. There are a number of defenses possible in these cases, with some more convincing than others depending on the facts of the case.
One common defense in household abuse cases is that the allegations are false. Arguments between romantic partners can turn ugly in some relationships, and false accusations have been known to happen. A defendant that convinces the jury the allegations were false could earn an acquittal.
Self defense is also commonly raised in these cases. The facts surrounding household violence arrests are often muddled. It is possible that the defendant in these cases might not have been the initial aggressor. If a defendant was simply defending themselves from harm, they could avoid a conviction entirely.
Some offenses specifically require a physical injury. It could be a viable defense in these cases if the defendant can show that the alleged victim never suffered a physical injury. It is worth noting that in these cases, lesser charges could still apply.
How a Los Angeles Defense Attorney Could Help?
If you have been accused of household abuse, it is important to understand the consequences you could be facing. There are several different offenses that fall within this category, and each of them carry different potential penalties. A dedicated Los Angeles defense attorney could advise you of these penalties.
Attorney Vitaly Sigal has extensive experience defending domestic violence crimes in L.A. His dedication to his clients could serve you well during the course of your criminal case. To learn more about your defense options, schedule a free consultation with the Sigal Law Group as soon as possible.