Domestic Violence, California Penal Code 273.5: All You Need to Know

Domestic Violence, California Penal Code 273.5: All You Need to Know

Domestic violence charges can lead to penalties that range from small fines to five years in state prison, depending on the severity of the incident and other aggravating factors.

Worse yet, if convicted, you’ll live with a criminal record and face over 5,000 legal restrictions — many of which are employment-related and 73% are permanent.

Given that 61% of domestic violence cases result in a conviction, it’s important that a knowledgeable attorney gets involved in your case as soon as possible to increase the chance of a successful defense.

With 13 years of experience as a former Deputy District Attorney, as well as Jury Trial experience in all sorts of misdemeanors and felonies — including domestic violence cases — Mariya Melkonyan will expertly and effectively defend you in court.

Schedule your no-obligation case review with Mariya today by emailing her at maryia@melkonyanfirm.com or calling (424) 901-3131.

Domestic Violence, California Penal Code 273.5, Explained

California Penal Code 273.5, often referred to as “domestic violence” or “corporal injury to a spouse,” safeguards individuals from harm within intimate relationships.

This law prohibits causing physical injury to a spouse, cohabitant, or fellow parent. It also includes scenarios where more than two individuals cohabit simultaneously. The law doesn’t distinguish between same-sex and heterosexual relationships.

To establish a case under CPC 273.5, the prosecution must demonstrate the following elements:

  • The defendant intentionally and unlawfully caused physical harm to a spouse, cohabitant, or child’s parent.
  • The inflicted injury resulted in a traumatic condition.
  • The defendant’s actions were not in self-defense.

A “traumatic condition” is legally defined as a wound or bodily injury caused by the direct use of physical force. Examples include bruises, contusions, fractures, and lacerations.

What Is an Example of Corporal Injury to a Spouse Under California Penal Code for Domestic Violence?

Corporal injury to a spouse under California Penal Code 273.5 involves intentional and unlawful acts causing visible injuries like bruises, cuts, or fractures. The keyword here is ‘visible,’ regardless of whether the injury is minor or serious.

Here are some examples of corporal injury to a spouse under CPC 273.5:

  • During an argument, the husband forcefully held his wife against a wall, resulting in noticeable bruises on her arms.
  • In a fit of anger, the wife slapped her husband repeatedly, causing visible red marks on his face.
  • A parent intentionally kicked a chair, accidentally hitting the other parent of their child and causing a minor but visible bruise.
  • During a heated dispute, a domestic partner grabbed a kitchen utensil and struck her partner, leaving a visible cut on his hand.
  • The spouse forcefully twisted their partner’s arm, leading to evident pain and visible signs of injury.

Penalties for a Conviction Under California Penal Code 273.5

In this section, we’ll discuss the consequences of felony or misdemeanor convictions, including the implications of California Penal Code 243(e)(1), the domestic battery law.

Felony Conviction

A felony conviction under CPC 273.5 can lead to significant penalties:

  • Two to four years in state prison
  • Up to one year in county jail
  • Fines up to $6,000
  • A combination of imprisonment and fines

For individuals with a previous battery or sexual battery conviction, the penalties can be more severe:

  • Two to five years in state prison
  • Up to one year in county jail (minimum 15 days for one prior, 60 days for two priors)
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • A combination of imprisonment and fines

Those with a prior domestic violence conviction under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) may also get harsher penalties:

  • Two to four years in state prison
  • Up to one year in county jail (minimum 15 days for one prior, 60 days for two priors)
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • A combination of imprisonment and fines

In addition to imprisonment and fines, there are other potential consequences of a CPC 273.5 conviction:

  • Three years (minimum) of formal probation or parole
  • Protective order (a.k.a. restraining order) against violence, threats, harassment, or stalking for up to ten years
  • Completion of one year’s domestic violence classes
  • Payments to a battered women’s shelter (up to $5,000)
  • Reimbursement for victim’s medical and/or mental health services
  • Community service
  • Counseling services (e.g., substance abuse classes)

A felony conviction brings further life-altering restrictions, including being unable to possess guns, vote, serve on a jury, or hold public office.

Prosecutors often push for the highest penalties possible, even if the facts don’t fully support that. It’s best to have a skilled domestic violence attorney present the circumstances of your case so nothing is overlooked.

Consulting an attorney gives you the best chance at securing the most favorable outcome, including reduced penalties or getting the charges dismissed altogether.

Attorney Mariya Melkonyan has years of experience defending domestic violence charges and will fight for you to get the best possible result. Contact her today to discuss your case, free of charge.

Misdemeanor Conviction

Domestic violence charges can lead to either a felony or misdemeanor conviction, classifying it as a wobbler offense. The severity depends on factors like the extent of harm inflicted.

A misdemeanor conviction under PC 273.5 entails:

  • Fines up to $6,000 
  • Up to one year in county jail
  • Up to three years of informal or summary probation
  • Being banned from owning or possessing a firearm for 10 years under California law and a lifetime ban under federal law

California Penal Code 243(e)(1) — Domestic Battery

Domestic battery (CPC 243(e)(1)) is a common charge in domestic violence incidents. To establish this charge, the prosecution must prove:

  • Willful harmful or offensive touching of the victim
  • That the victim is the current or former spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, co-parent, or someone with a past dating relationship

For example, an argument leading to a man grabbing his wife’s wrists, even without causing injury, can be prosecuted as domestic battery.

Penalties for domestic battery under CPC 243(e)(1) include:

  • Up to a year in jail
  • Court fines
  • Community service or labor
  • Mandatory domestic violence classes (including anger management)
  • Potential issuance of protective or stay-away orders

A conviction may have lasting consequences, impacting job opportunities, especially those involving the care of children or the sick. Additionally, individuals convicted of domestic battery may lose the right to own or acquire firearms.

Expert legal help will help you get the best outcome on your domestic violence case. Call (424) 901-3131 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with Attorney Mariya Melkonyan today.

Other Consequences of a Conviction — Child Abuse Charges

Domestic violence not only affects the immediate parties involved, but can also have profound consequences for the children within the household.

When a domestic violence incident occurs, Child Protective Services (CPS) may get involved, especially when the well-being of children is at stake. If domestic violence happens in the presence of children, it can lead to child abuse charges.

When CPS becomes involved, they investigate and evaluate the home environment. Depending on their findings, consequences may include:

  • Implementation of safety plans to protect children
  • Temporary or permanent removal of children from the home
  • Court-mandated parenting classes
  • Supervised visitation arrangements
  • Ongoing monitoring to ensure the safety and well-being of the children

What Are the Defenses to California Penal Code 273.5?

In this section, we’ll delve into three potential defense strategies against CPC 273.5 charges.

1. The Injury to the Accuser Was Accidental

If the prosecution can’t prove that the defendant’s conduct was willful, claiming that the injury was accidental can serve as a defense to domestic violence charges. It hinges on demonstrating that the harm caused was unintentional.

Example: During a heated argument, you raised your hand in a gesture, accidentally bumping into your partner and causing them a minor injury. In this case, this defense may apply, as there is no intent to harm.

2. You Acted in Self-Defense or Defense of Another Person

Self-defense is the legal right to protect yourself or another person from imminent harm, threat, or danger, using reasonable force.

In other words, if someone hurts their partner while trying to stop an attack, they can say it was self-defense under California law. This means they had to act to protect themselves or someone else.

Example 1: Your partner made a sudden move, and you defended yourself by using just enough force, accidentally causing an injury. This defense works because the force used matches the threat.

Example 2: Your partner punched you. In response, you grabbed a weapon and used excessive force, causing severe harm. While it may seem like self-defense, the response exceeds reasonable force, violating California law.

A successful defense strategy against domestic violence charges comes down to careful examination of the details to identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, challenging the admissibility or credibility of evidence presented by the prosecution, and more.

An experienced defense attorney can help you navigate the complexity and nuance of your domestic violence charges and get the best possible outcome.

If you’re being charged with domestic violence or battery, schedule a free, no-obligation case review with Attorney Mariya Melkonyan by calling (424) 901-3131 or emailing her at maryia@melkonyanfirm.com.

3. You Were Falsely Accused

It’s not uncommon for alleged victims in domestic disputes to fabricate charges for revenge or other motives. A thorough examination by investigators can expose the lies of the alleged victim. Exposing lies can serve as a complete defense to the charge.

Example: The alleged victim falsely accused you of domestic violence for revenge. A strong defense, including questioning the accuser and presenting evidence, can prove the accusation is false, resulting in your acquittal.

While serving as a complete defense to the charges, exposing lies is often difficult. Our team of skilled lawyers will carry out effective cross-examination and build a robust defense tailored to your unique case.

Schedule a free consultation with Attorney Mariya Melkonyan today to protect your rights and explore your legal options.

What Happens if the Accuser Doesn’t Show Up to Court?

People often wonder if the case will be automatically dismissed when the accuser doesn’t show up to court. Usually it isn’t dismissed; but it might be weakened, as it causes delays and makes it harder for the prosecution to share important proof.

For instance, if the accuser doesn’t show up to court, the hearsay rule may apply, meaning the accuser’s out-of-court statements are excluded, since there’s no chance for confrontation.

The accuser generally won’t get arrested for not showing up, but they might receive a legal order (subpoena), forcing them to go.

If the accuser refuses to cooperate altogether, it can really hurt the case. Without their cooperation, it’s tough for the prosecution to prove what happened.

While most times the accuser won’t face consequences, ignoring a subpoena could lead to fines or other penalties.

Facing Domestic Violence Charges? An Expert Defense Attorney Will Fight for You 

Domestic violence charges are complex and can lead to very serious penalties, including imprisonment, fines up to $10,000, and a lifelong criminal record.

Considering that the majority of domestic violence cases result in a conviction, it’s important you seek help from a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible to increase the chance of a successful defense. 

With 13 years of experience as a former Deputy District Attorney, Attorney Maryia Melkonyan will use her expertise in domestic violence cases to fight for you and ensure no stone is left unturned.  Schedule your free, no-obligation case review today.

Frequently Asked Questions

During your free initial consultation, your attorney will discuss the facts of your case, getting a clear overview of your situation. Your attorney will then explain the process, letting you know what will be expected of you and the support and services they will offer.

Your attorney will then guide you on how to proceed and begin collecting potential witness details to support your case and evidence for preservation, proper representation, and preparation. Finally, we will explain our fees, take you through our retainer form, and answer any queries you have.

To give Mariya a clear view of your case, you must provide them with as many details and as much evidence about your case as possible. This may include documentation, videos, audio files, witness names, time logs on any information related to the case for review. The more details and evidence you can provide, the better case your attorney can build right from the start.

Some clients are concerned about revealing too much to a lawyer in an initial consultation, but your meetings with an attorney are confidential and protected by client/attorney privilege.

After your initial consultation, we’ll be able to determine a retainer fee and discuss payment options. In most cases, the retainer feee payments are divided into two parts; the first is typically payable upfront.

There are various options for paying your retainer fee, including cash, check, or card.

There is no one-size-fits-all cost for an attorney to defend your criminal case. The fee depends on the charges against you and the details of your specific case. As a rule, open misdemeanor cases tend to be charged at a lower fee than open felony cases. Post-conviction legal services, such as expungement of criminal records, are usually even less expensive.

The final fee depends on the complexity of your case. During your consultation, the attorney will discuss the fees with you. The more details you can give about your case, the more accurate expectations your attorney can set. Contact Mariya today for a no-obligation case review.

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      During your free initial consultation, your attorney will discuss the facts of your case, getting a clear overview of your situation. Your attorney will then explain the process, letting you know what will be expected of you and the support and services they will offer.

      Your attorney will then guide you on how to proceed and begin collecting potential witness details to support your case and evidence for preservation, proper representation, and preparation. Finally, we will explain our fees, take you through our retainer form, and answer any queries you have.

      To give Mariya a clear view of your case, you must provide them with as many details and as much evidence about your case as possible. This may include documentation, videos, audio files, witness names, time logs on any information related to the case for review. The more details and evidence you can provide, the better case your attorney can build right from the start.

      Some clients are concerned about revealing too much to a lawyer in an initial consultation, but your meetings with an attorney are confidential and protected by client/attorney privilege.

      After your initial consultation, we’ll be able to determine a retainer fee and discuss payment options. In most cases, the retainer feee payments are divided into two parts; the first is typically payable upfront.

      There are various options for paying your retainer fee, including cash, check, or card.

      There is no one-size-fits-all cost for an attorney to defend your criminal case. The fee depends on the charges against you and the details of your specific case. As a rule, open misdemeanor cases tend to be charged at a lower fee than open felony cases. Post-conviction legal services, such as expungement of criminal records, are usually even less expensive.

      The final fee depends on the complexity of your case. During your consultation, the attorney will discuss the fees with you. The more details you can give about your case, the more accurate expectations your attorney can set. Contact Mariya today for a no-obligation case review.