California defines spousal abuse as the willful infliction of “corporal injury” on a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, or parent of the defendant's child. For a conviction of this type of domestic violence the prosecution must show that the defendant willfully inflicted “corporal injury on a victim” and that the injury resulted in the victim suffering a “traumatic condition.” Essentially, this means that any intentional physical violence against one's spouse or former spouse that causes that spouse to suffer external or internal wounds such as scratches, cuts, bruises, or suffocation, may constitute spousal abuse.
Depending on the seriousness of the facts of the case, the prosecutor may charge the defendant with either a misdemeanor or a felony. In the case of a misdemeanor charge, the defendant could face up to a year in the county jail in addition to fines and fees in certain circumstances. In the case of a felony, the defendant could face anywhere from 2-5 years of imprisonment in a state penitentiary if convicted.
One who is facing these kinds of charges should immediately retain the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. Regardless of whether the defendant is innocent or guilty, their livelihood is threatened by this charge. Anything that defendant does or says without first consulting an attorney could negatively impact his defense at trial or his ability to attain a favorable plea-deal.