Facing the Penalties
A domestic violence conviction will result in several harsh penalties, including jail time and large fines. California takes an aggressive stance toward domestic violence offenses. Dedicated prosecution units handle domestic violence cases, giving defendants very little chance of slipping through the cracks. Even first-time offenses are punished severely in hopes of deterring repeat offenders. Nevertheless, many domestic violence offenders become repeat offenders. As a result, the penalties for repeat domestic violence offenses are much more severe.
Sentencing for domestic violence crimes varies based on several factors. The penalties for domestic violence offenses are pretty standard but will increase significantly in light of certain aggravating factors. The defendant's history of past offenses is one of the most important factors the judge will consider when sentencing. Thus, a domestic violence defendant with prior domestic violence offenses can expect a significantly increased sentence. The severity of injuries the victim suffered will also be a determinant factor in sentencing. Looking at the penalties for domestic violence offenses should give you an idea of just what you can face as a repeat offender. I'll go over the two most common domestic violence crimes in California.
A first-time domestic battery offense is punishable by up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Some or all of the jail time can be stayed. In almost all cases, the defendant will also need to complete a 52-week batterers' intervention program. In addition, the defendant can be ordered to complete community service, go to counseling, and make payments to a battered woman's shelter and/or pay the victim restitution instead of a fine. A domestic battery conviction will also result in a restraining order, and violating the order, which may have very strict requirements, can result in jail time and a fine in and of itself.
For a second domestic battery offense, the defendant faces all the above penalties but will be ordered to serve a minimum of 48 hours in jail.
Corporal Injury to a Spouse
Corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant resulting in a traumatic condition (i.e. an injury) is punishable by up to a year in a county jail or 2, 3, or 4 years in a state prison. In addition, the defendant can be ordered to pay a fine of up to $6,000. And, as with domestic battery, the defendant can also be ordered to complete a batterers' intervention program, attend counseling, make payments to a battered woman's shelter, complete community service, and pay the victim restitution.
For a second corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant offense within 7 years, however, the defendant can face the same maximum jail sentences but up to five years in a state prison. At the very least, the defendant will face a minimum 15 days in jail, and/or a fine of up to $10,000. A third offense will result in a minimum mandatory 60 days in jail in addition to the other specified penalties.
As you can see, repeat domestic violence offenders can expect mandatory jail time, longer jail or prison sentences, and significantly increased fines. While the minimum sentence remains the same, the maximum is increased, and repeat offenders have little to no chance of getting a minimum sentence with a history of prior offenses. On the other hand, first-time offenders can often get the minimum sentence if there are no aggravating factors.
These are some of the reasons why it is so important to fight domestic violence charges, especially if you have a prior offense. False accusations of domestic violence land innocent people in jail all the time. And when so much is at stake, repeat offenders should do everything they can to fight their charges. A skilled domestic violence defense attorney will know how to challenge the evidence against you and can help you get a reduced sentence or a lesser charge.
If you are facing domestic violence charges and have prior offenses, you should speak with an attorney right away. You should never face domestic violence charges alone, especially if are a repeat offender. You will need an advocate in your corner. A skilled California domestic violence defense attorney can evaluate your case, advise you of your rights, and help you plan a strategic defense to your charges.
If you are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and have questions about claiming domestic violence charges, call experienced domestic violence defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you face your charges with confidence. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens is ready to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.