No one should live in fear of the people closest to them. Unfortunately, domestic violence remains a disturbing occurrence in Los Angeles, throughout California, and across the United States — although just how common it is can be difficult to determine. Not every instance of domestic violence is reported to authorities, nor is every report of domestic violence proof that a crime was actually committed.
Have you been accused of domestic violence in Los Angeles? Contact the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling today for a free initial consultation. The consequences of a conviction can be serious, and you deserve a Los Angeles domestic violence attorney who’s equally serious about defending your rights and your freedom. Call us now.
What is Considered Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence refers to abuse or aggressive acts against a child, parent, roommate, or other person living in the same household. Intimate partner violence, or abusive acts against a current or former spouse or romantic partner, is also domestic violence. It can include physical acts, threats, intimidation, harassment, and other abusive behavior.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the four most common forms of domestic violence are:
- Threats and physical violence – Domestic violence against a romantic partner or cohabitant can result in severe injuries. However, the trauma from abuse and the threat of future abuse may also cause the victim significant emotional distress.
- Sexual violence – Forced sexual contact, even among romantic partners, is illegal. Not only does it violate the victim’s consent, but it can also cause them serious physical and emotional trauma. This category of domestic violence also includes incidents where a partner cannot give consent due to a physical or mental disability.
- Stalking – Repeated, unwanted contact from a former romantic partner may cause someone to fear for their safety and experience other forms of psychological distress.
- Psychological or emotional abuse – Many domestic abusers do not use physical force. Instead, they may rely on manipulation or aggressive communication to control the victim.
California Domestic Violence Laws
Two key California laws apply to domestic violence offenses.
The first is Section 243(e)(1) of the California Penal Code, which concerns battery. Battery is the willful and unlawful use of force against another person. Subsection (e)(1) prescribes specific penalties when someone is convicted of domestic battery against any of the following categories of victims:
- A current or former romantic partner, fiancé/fiancée, or spouse
- A roommate or anyone else living in the same household as the offender on a long-term basis
- The father or mother of the offender’s child
Anyone convicted of a battery offense under Section 243(e)(1) could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in county jail. In most misdemeanor battery cases, the maximum sentence is six months in county jail.
The other California domestic violence law is Penal Code Section 273.5. Under this law, anyone who inflicts corporal injury resulting in physical trauma could face felony charges if the victim is:
- The defendant’s current or former spouse
- The defendant’s current or former romantic partner or fiancé/fiancée
- Someone the defendant lives with or previously lived with
- The father or mother of the defendant’s child
Those convicted under Section 273.5 could face up to four years in a California state prison.
Los Angeles Domestic Violence Statistics
The Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council keeps local statistics on domestic and intimate partner violence. Some key metrics from recent years include:
- Among adults aged 18 and over in Los Angeles County, 20 percent of women and 13 percent of men reported being physically or sexually abused by an intimate partner.
- Nearly seven percent of high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District reported experiencing physical dating violence. Close to five percent reported sexual dating violence.
- Roughly 11 percent of pregnant women have experienced some form of physical, emotional, or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
- Within Los Angeles County, the Antelope Valley and South Los Angeles regions reported the most emergency room visits due to intimate partner violence.
- Los Angeles County saw an average of 36 homicides related to intimate partner violence annually in one recent five-year window.
National Breakdown of Domestic Violence Statistics
The Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council also reported national statistics on domestic violence. Consider these numbers:
- Roughly 25 percent of women and 10 percent of men age 18 or over have experienced intimate partner violence.
- Those who identify as LGBTQ+ are at particular risk of intimate partner violence. Over 60 percent of bisexual women, 54 percent of transgender individuals, 44 percent of lesbians, 37 percent of bisexual men, and 26 percent of gay men reported experiencing intimate partner violence at some point in their lives.
- Approximately 847,000 cases of intimate partner violence against victims 12 and older were reported in one recent year alone.
- Only an estimated 45 percent of all incidents relating to intimate partner violence are reported to the police.
- In one recent year, almost 1,000 women were murdered by their male intimate partners.
What to Do If You Are Accused of Domestic Violence
If you stand accused of a domestic violence-related offense in Los Angeles, seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Defendants in a domestic violence case may experience significant social stigma and face prison time or hefty fines if convicted. An experienced California domestic violence attorney can help you protect your freedom and your reputation.
Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney in Los Angeles
California takes domestic violence charges seriously. You don’t want to fight these allegations alone. Reach out to the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling for the legal representation you need and deserve. Call or contact us today for a free consultation with a LA domestic violence lawyer.