A crime of violence, such as a battery, committed against a current or former spouse, current or former fiance or fiancee, someone with whom the defendant currently has or previously had a dating relationship with, or the other parent of the defendant's child is considered a case of domestic violence. The two most common domestic violence crimes are battery and infliction of corporal injury.
Battery committed against a person fitting into one of the above categories is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year in county jail. If the victim sustains an injury caused by the use of physical force by the defendant, he or she can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year in jail or a felony punishable by two, three, or four years in state prison. The prison sentence may increase depending on certain factors such as prior criminal history, use of a weapon, or the extent of the injury sustained by the victim.
Although it is much more common for men to be charged with domestic violence, women do get charged with domestic violence as well. Also, crimes which may not involve the actual use of physical force, such as criminal threats or stalking, are considered domestic violence crimes if committed against one of the persons mentioned above.
If a person is convicted of domestic violence and is placed on probation, a mandatory term of probation is the completion of a one year Batterer's Treatment Program. There are also mandatory fees and fines which are unique to domestic violence cases. Another sanction imposed on a domestic violence case is the issuance of a protective order which requires the defendant to have no contact with the victim in the case. This order is usually issued while the case is pending, even before there is a conviction in the case. For example, if a husband is charged with a domestic violence crime against his wife, either the husband or the wife (usually the husband) must move out of their shared residence and find somewhere else to live while the protective order is in place. Usually the protective order is in place for three years which is the typical probationary period on a domestic violence case. The only way to get the order modified before it expires, to allow peaceful contact between the parties, is for the victim to go to court and ask the judge to modify the order. In most cases, the judge will require certain conditions to be met before he grants the request such as the proof of enrollment by the defendant in the Batterer's Treatment Program and the completion by the victim of Personal Empowerment classes.
In many domestic violence cases, the victim is unwilling to cooperate with the prosecution of the case. It is common for the victim to tell the police or the prosecutor that he or she would like to drop the charges. It is a myth that a victim in a domestic violence case can drop the charges and have the case dismissed. In fact many, if not most, domestic violence cases are prosecuted without the cooperation of the victim. Even if the victim refuses to testify at trial, the prosecution has ways to prove its case without the victim's testimony.
Being charged with domestic violence can be one of the most stressful and onerous times in a person's life. Representation by an experience criminal defense attorney is imperative if the best possible outcome is to be achieved.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, make sure that all of your rights are protected. Contact the Law Offices of Christian Kim and speak to our attorney who has years of experience in successfully handling domestic violence cases.