Domestic Violence

Most domestic violence cases in Los Angeles and Ventura County are filed under Penal Code §273.5, corporal injury on a spouse, cohabitant or girlfriend/boyfriend or Penal Code §243(e) battery on a spouse, cohabitant or girlfriend/boyfriend.  Penal Code §243(e) is a misdemeanor, whereas Penal Code §273.5 is a “wobbler” meaning it may be filed either as a felony or misdemeanor.  In general, arresting officers will charge a suspect under Penal Code §273.5 with a felony; however, if the alleged injury is not severe and there is no history of prior conduct, the district attorney will often file the case as a misdemeanor.  Often times your criminal defense attorney is able to contact the district attorney assigned to review your case for filing and present new evidence that might influence the local prosecutor’s filing decision as to whether it warrants a misdemeanor or a felony, or even whether the charge should be filed or rejected entirely.

Due to the current Ventura and Los Angeles political atmosphere regarding domestic violence charges, the district attorneys can be quite aggressive in their prosecution.  This aggressive attitude causes them to insist upon certain mandatory sentencing requirements such as formal probation, fifty-two weeks of domestic violence counseling and some type of jail term.  However, it has been our experience at Dunn & Sanderson that these domestic violence cases are often the most defensible if properly investigated and presented, and the requirement of jail time can be avoided, or the entire case may be dismissed or successfully defended at the time of trial.

Differences between a Felony and Misdemeanor

Misdemeanor – a domestic violence misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail.

Felony - a domestic violence felony carries a possibility of 2, 3 or 4 years in State Prison.

Felonies and misdemeanors are treated differently when it comes to jail or prison time, and the length of a probation term.  Many factors go into determining whether a matter is properly found to be a felony or a misdemeanor including a prior record, severity of any injury, provocation, physical or mental disability and/or mitigation due to prior bad acts of the alleged victim.

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