Call For Consultation424-552-3901

Domestic Violence

Home / Domestic Violence

What Should I Do With My Domestic Violence Charge?

If you are facing a domestic violence allegation, the first thing you will want to do is seek clarity on the severity of the charge. Most domestic violence charges in California fall under Penal Code 243(e)(1), which is a misdemeanor charge. However, depending on the details of your case, your charge may classify as a felony. Receive a thorough and honest evaluation with one of the lawyers at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP.

For more than 60 years, our attorneys have provided professional legal counsel to Californians. No matter how complex your case may seem, you have options. You can rely on our lawyers to identify the best possible options for a resolution in your domestic violence case.

Defining Domestic Violence in California

In a domestic violence case, the prosecution must prove certain elements when it charges you. Those elements differentiate criminal battery and assault and domestic violence. The elements include proving that the person who accused you is:

A current or former spouse

Your fiancé or fiancée

Your child’s co-parent

Someone you lived with or who lived with you

In addition, the prosecution must prove that you willfully and unlawfully used force or violence against the other person. There are different penal codes that address the severity of violence, and each entails a different outcome if convicted.

Discuss the details of your case with our experienced board-certified criminal defense lawyer.

Can a Domestic Violence Charge Be Expunged?

Yes, under certain circumstances, you can have a domestic violence charge or conviction expunged from your record. Typically, these are misdemeanor cases that do not include sexual assault or violence perpetrated on minors. If the case is a felony, you would need to get it reduced to a misdemeanor before you can have it expunged. Also, if you did not follow the terms of your probation or if you have additional convictions on your record, you could be denied an expungement.

Will a Domestic Violence Charge Keep Me From Getting a Job?

It is possible to be denied employment with any violent crime charge or conviction on your record. While it depends on the type of employment, you may be unable to get certain jobs requiring a professional license or a job working with vulnerable populations such as children or the elderly.

Is a Domestic Violence Charge a Felony?

Domestic violence can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. It is most often a misdemeanor unless any of the following apply:

A minor suffered injury or sexual assault

An adult suffered serious injury or was sexually assaulted

The defendant has previous convictions for domestic assault or additional crimes

Does a Domestic Violence Charge Stay On Your Record?

You may be able to get charges expunged if they were dropped or you were found not guilty. However, the expungement process is complex, so it is best to work with a lawyer.

Will a Domestic Violence Charge Prevent Gun Ownership?

A conviction of domestic violence will affect your ability to own firearms and can begin soon after the charges are filed. The judge may require that the person facing charges cannot possess, own or use a firearm. If the defendant is convicted, California state law prohibits them from gun use or ownership for ten years. However, federal law may result in a ban on firearms for the rest of your life. This can be a confusing issue that is best discussed with an attorney.

Common Defenses Against a Domestic Violence Charge

There are many defenses that can be raised in response to a domestic violence charge. The most common include:

  • Self-defense: This is probably the most common defense to domestic violence charges. If you can show that you were only acting in self-defense to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of violence, then you may be able to avoid a conviction. Often, because domestic violence cases involve people who know each other, it can be difficult to determine who was the aggressor. This is especially true when the incident took place inside the home, where only the people involved know what really happened. However, leveraging other forms of evidence, such as text messages, emails, or medical records, can help raise this defense and show who the real aggressor was.
  • False accusation: Unfortunately, it is not an uncommon occurrence for people to make false domestic violence accusations against an ex-spouse or partner out of spite. If you can provide evidence that the accuser has a motive to lie or that there are inconsistencies in their story, then you may be able to prove that the charges are false. This can be demonstrated through electronic communications, character witnesses, or other forms of evidence. It must show that the accuser is not being truthful about what happened in order to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.
  • Lack of evidence: In any criminal case, the prosecution must prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that they must have enough evidence to show that you are guilty and that no other plausible explanation exists for what happened. If the prosecution’s case is based solely on the testimony of the accuser and there is no other evidence to corroborate their story, you may get the charges dismissed.
  • Mistaken identity: If you can show that you were not the person who committed the domestic violence, then you will not be guilty of the charges. This is often seen in cases where multiple people live in the same household and someone else is accused of domestic violence. However, it can also happen when the accuser mistakenly identifies you as the perpetrator. If you have an alibi or other evidence to show that you were not the one who committed the violence, then you should be able to avoid a conviction.

If you have been accused of domestic violence, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine which defenses may be applicable in your case. An attorney can also help you learn more about the criminal justice system and protect your rights.

What is the Process for a Domestic Violence Case?

If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, it is important to understand the process so that you can be prepared for what’s to come. The process will vary depending on the jurisdiction, but some general steps are typically followed.

  • Arrest: The first step in the process is usually an arrest. If the police are called to a domestic violence incident, they will likely make an arrest if they can determine that a crime was likely committed. If you are arrested, you will be taken to jail and will have to post bail to be released. Even if the victim does not actively want to press charges, the state may choose to pursue charges on its own, or the victim may change their mind and decide to cooperate with the prosecution.
  • Arraignment: After you have been arrested, you will be taken to court for an arraignment. This is where the charges against you will be read, and you will be asked to enter a plea. You can plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest. A guilty plea will result in a conviction, and sentencing will proceed. If you plead not guilty, then the case will move on to the next stage. This is the moment where you should have an attorney present to help you make the best decision for your case.
  • Discovery: During discovery, both the prosecution and defense will have an opportunity to gather evidence. The prosecution will turn over any evidence they have to the defense, and the defense will do the same. This is also the time when each side will decide which witnesses they want to have testify at trial. Common occurrences during the discovery process include depositions and motion hearings. This is a critical stage of the process because it will allow your attorney to see the evidence against you and start planning your defense.
  • Pretrial motions: After discovery is complete, each side will have an opportunity to file pretrial motions. These are motions that ask the judge to rule on specific issues related to the case. For example, the defense may file a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence. If the judge grants the motion, then the evidence will not be able to be used at trial. This is just one example of a pretrial motion that could be filed. Pretrial motions are generally filed to get the case dismissed or improve the chances of success at trial.
  • Trial: If the case does not settle during pretrial proceedings, it will go to trial. At trial, both sides will present their evidence and witnesses. The jury will then deliberate and reach a verdict. If you are found guilty, then sentencing will proceed.
  • Sentencing: The judge will hand down a sentence if you are convicted of domestic violence. The sentence will vary depending on the severity of the crime and your criminal history. In some cases, you may be sentenced to probation and ordered to complete a domestic violence counseling program. In other cases, you may be sentenced to jail time. Your attorney can work to reduce your sentence and help you get the best possible outcome in your case if you decide not to appeal.
  • Appeal: If you are convicted, you have the right to appeal the decision if you disagree with the outcome of the case. A higher court will review the case to determine if there were any mistakes during the trial that led to an unfair outcome. If the court finds that there were errors, it may reverse the conviction or order a new trial.

Expungement is Rarely a Straightforward Process

If you are considering expungement for domestic violence charges or convictions, it is a good idea to consult an attorney first. These cases are complex and you do not want to make a mistake in the process that hurts your chances. Speak with us today.

Begin Your Aggressive Defense With a Free Consultation

Our firm focuses on providing solutions for Californians facing criminal charges. We will provide you with an aggressive defense and a creative strategy to reach the best possible resolution. Protect your freedom with our board-certified criminal defense attorney at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP.

Call our Torrance office at 424-552-3901 or you can request your appointment by completing this online contact form.