A domestic violence charge can drastically affect your life, both now and in the future. But just because you were arrested or charged with domestic violence does not mean you will be convicted. You are innocent until proven guilty. An experienced domestic violence attorney can gather evidence and build a strong defense on your behalf.
Worrying about what happens when you get a domestic violence charge in Los Angeles is natural. Reach out to the Law Offices Attorney Justin E. Sterling today. Our law firm has a strong reputation for providing powerful and assertive legal representation at the state and federal levels. Founding attorney Justin Sterling has the experience to handle high-stakes cases and has successfully fought for clients to have criminal charges reduced and, in some cases, dropped entirely.
Choosing the right lawyer can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case. Call or contact us today to learn how we can help. The first consultation is free.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a general term to describe several different types of crimes against someone you have or previously had a relationship with. Victims may include a current or past spouse, domestic partner, cohabitant, someone you dated, or the parent of a child you had together.
Is a Domestic Violence Charge a Felony?
Domestic violence resulting in the bodily injury of a spouse or other intimate partner is almost always a felony. However, domestic battery may be a misdemeanor if the violence did not result in a visible injury.
Sometimes, accusers falsely accuse a person of felony domestic violence by saying that a physical injury occurred but healed before they reported the crime. They may also exaggerate or lie about the circumstances. A criminal defense lawyer can investigate these allegations and collect evidence challenging their credibility.
Types of Domestic Violence Charges in California
California law gives the prosecutor and the judge the discretion to charge a domestic violence offense as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon various factors. These include your past criminal history, role in the crime, willingness to make restitution and cooperate in the criminal process, and more. Our firm can advise on what you can do to increase your chances of having your charges reduced.
Many domestic violence cases suffer from a lack of evidence, making it a case of one person’s word against the other. This can make sorting out the truth difficult. Our defense lawyers know the tactics prosecutors use to win these cases. We will fight to bring the truth to light and protect your right to fair treatment in court.
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
Since the types of domestic violence charges vary greatly in California, so do the consequences. The penalties will also generally be harsher if you have previous offenses.
For a felony offense of bodily harm to an intimate partner, your sentence may include anything from one year in the county jail to four years in state prison. Other felonies also come with steep fines and jail or prison time, depending upon the offense.
Misdemeanor offenses typically involve fines and up to one year in jail, but penalties vary greatly depending upon the nature of the crime.
You may also need to pay restitution to the victim to cover their medical expenses, mental health treatment, lost wages, and property damage. Additionally, California requires a payment to fund domestic violence programs.
It is important to remember that a domestic violence charge does not mean the court will convict you on all charges. With the right legal representation, you may be able to negotiate for reduced penalties or dropped charges.
If you are convicted of domestic violence, you will likely face other consequences even after you have paid your fines and completed jail or prison time. California law restricts gun ownership and child custody rights for individuals convicted of domestic violence. If you are not a United States citizen, your conviction can have serious immigration consequences.
How Can a Domestic Violence Conviction Affect My Life?
A domestic violence conviction will go on your permanent record. Anyone who conducts a background check will be able to see your conviction. This may make finding employment, housing, and continuing education difficult.
Those with domestic violence records may struggle to obtain certain licenses necessary for employment in fields like healthcare or education, and many employers choose not to hire those who have a criminal record. Similarly, many landlords will not rent to people with a criminal record.
Can a Domestic Violence Charge be Expunged?
Sometimes a criminal conviction can be removed, or expunged, from a person’s criminal record. You may be able to clear your record of misdemeanor domestic violence charges if you didn’t go to prison. If you’ve been charged with a felony, your attorney will likely need to get the charges reduced before they can be removed from your record.
You could also clear your arrest record if you were not convicted of the crime, acquitted in court, or your case was dismissed. Discuss California’s Clear Your Record options with your lawyer to reduce the impact of domestic assault charges on your life.
Contact a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in California
Facing domestic violence charges is scary. But never give up without talking to an attorney. Several defense strategies could apply to your case and save you heartache later.
At the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling, we can review your case and discuss the potential defenses that may clear your name and restore your reputation. This is a difficult time in your life, but we’re here to support you and work towards the best possible outcome. Contact us online or by phone for a free consultation today.