Skip to Content
Serving Los Angeles County and the Greater Southern California Area
Se Habla Español
(310) 361-3068

How does California law define domestic violence?


Any type of criminal conviction can have a lasting negative effect upon your life – including a conviction for domestic violence. If you know that criminal charges are coming, you probably want to know whether domestic violence is among the crimes that the prosecutor could charge you with, as well as the possible penalties that come with a conviction. Domestic violence has a specific definition, and there are precise elements that the prosecutor would have to prove in order to convict you of it.

The elements of domestic violence

Under California law, domestic violence is a special kind of battery. Therefore, the prosecutor will have to prove that you satisfied all elements of a battery.

What sets domestic violence apart from normal battery is that it must be against a person in a present or past intimate relationship with you. This means that the alleged victim must be either your current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, fiancé, the parent of your child, or someone you are or were dating.

If the alleged victim does not fit into any of the above categories, then the prosecutor could still charge you with a battery – but not domestic violence.

The possible penalties

Upon conviction, you could have to pay a fine of up to $2,000 dollars, serve a term in jail for up to a year, or both.

In certain circumstances, it’s possible that you could have your jail sentence reduced or replaced with probation. If this happens, you will have to complete a mandatory counseling program that the court will designate.

On top of the danger to your career and education opportunities, a domestic violence conviction can be financially costly and humiliating. Knowing the elements that the prosecutor will try to prove can help you to plan a solid and thorough defense.

Share To: