What Are the Consequences of Domestic Violence in California?

Every crime written in California’s Penal Code has a corresponding penalty and appropriate escalation level, including domestic violence. Depending on the nature of the incident, as well as the victims involved, the methods for prosecuting a domestic violence charge can vary drastically. Before filing a domestic violence claim, understanding how these claims are handled by courts is essential for building a strong, thorough case.

Is Domestic Violence a Misdemeanor or Felony?

There are some felonies known as “wobblers” that can be prosecuted as either felonies or misdemeanors. To decide exactly what charges to pursue, prosecutors typically consider the particular facts of the case and the defendant’s previous history. According to California Penal Code 17(b), if the offense is a wobbler, the judge may in some circumstances downgrade a felony to a misdemeanor. It should be noted that in circumstances of domestic violence, the distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony is frequently hazy. Someone must abuse a person with whom they have had a domestic relationship to be judged guilty of domestic violence.

Can Those Charged With Domestic Violence Go on Probation?

As every case varies, so do the outcomes for those facing charges. In some cases, a judge can impose probation rather than a jail term on a domestic violence defendant. If it is the defendant’s first offense or the injuries sustained by the person raising the claims are not significant or life-threatening, a judge could grant probation rather than long-term jail time.

Felony domestic violence charges are usually brought after serious injuries. Due to this, when a case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, probation is a more likely result. If the defendant is found guilty of the domestic violence incident, they could still be sentenced to a mandatory minimum period in jail and face several serious penalties. The judge may also revoke probation and sentence the offender to jail time if they decide to break their probation.

Misdemeanor and Felony Domestic Violence Convictions

Corporal harm to a partner or resident is one form of domestic abuse, which is always prosecuted as a felony in California (PC 273.5). For any instance where corporal harm is said to have been inflicted on an individual that qualifies as domestic abuse, the prosecution will always prosecute these instances as felonies. Depending on the context, domestic abuse-related offenses may be felonies or misdemeanors. These “wobbler” infractions consist of:

  • Abuse of a child
  • Endangering children
  • Senior abuse
  • Terroristic threats
  • Stalking
  • Sabotaged phone lines
  • Criminal trespassing

When deciding whether to file a misdemeanor or felony charge against the defendant, the prosecutor considers a variety of different factors. They always consider how severe the victim’s wounds were or how severe the actions brought up by the victim were when making a decision. Additionally, they look through any earlier allegations of abuse made by the victim or others against the suspected abusers, especially when dealing with an individual who has prior felony convictions. If the defendant has any prior convictions for domestic violence, it is crucial to take these conditions into account. This is especially important if the person committing these actions has custody of a child or is the designated caregiver of a dependent.

Can a Domestic Violence Charge Count Towards California’s Three Strikes Sentencing?

The consequences for felony domestic abuse under the Three Strike Law can be severe for people who have previously had a prior conviction. The three-strike statute in California was amended in 2012 after being initially passed in 1994. The legislation requires a state prison sentence of at least 25 years to life if the offender has already been charged with two felonies and is then accused of a third significant or violent crime. Due to the victims involved, many domestic violence offenses are regarded by California law as significant or violent felonies.


Q: How much is a bond for domestic violence in California?

A: If there has been serious bodily harm or multiple victims, the alleged offender is likely to be charged with a felony, such as aggravated domestic battery. Felony domestic abuse charges in California are subject to fines and up to 4 years in state prison. In most cases, the amount of bail for felonies involving domestic violence is between $10,000 and $50,000, based on the crime’s seriousness, the offender’s prior record, and the victim’s danger.

Q: Is domestic violence in California a felony?

A: When there are injuries or when the offender has a record of domestic violence violations from past convictions, a prosecutor would typically file felony charges. When the defendant’s actions cause the victim to sustain substantial bodily harm, punishments are frequently increased. According to California Penal Code Section 273.5 PC, the prosecutor may pursue charges for causing bodily harm to a spouse as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

Q: What punishment is awarded for domestic violence?

A: Generally speaking, jail, probation, and/or a fine are among the possible criminal sanctions for a domestic abuse conviction. The defendant may also be ordered to pay court expenses and possible additional fees related to the offense. The offense type, the defendant’s criminal history, the presence of any aggravating circumstances, and possible additional considerations will all have an impact on the sentence.

Q: How long does domestic violence stay on your record in California?

A: Many agencies still adhere to the practice that they must initiate an arrest whenever the police are called to a “domestic dispute,” regardless of the victim’s desires. Cases can involve minor or severe injuries, but one person is almost always detained—typically for a felony—and required to post bond. If no state prison term was imposed, these charges can be expunged, and felony charges can be reduced to misdemeanors before being expunged.

Filing Domestic Abuse Charges in California

Depending on the charges and allegations being brought forward, the types of charges pursued can vary. Felony charges can be guaranteed in cases of more severe corporal harm or when the abuse is directed at a child. Finding the right law firm to support these convictions is crucial to giving the victims of these crimes the peace they deserve. Paula D. Kleinman, APLC, can help create a convincing case against a domestic abuser. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with your domestic abuse case.

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