How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay on Your Record in California?

Facing any kind of criminal charge can be daunting, especially if you are ultimately convicted of the crime at hand. In California, domestic violence charges are significant offenses and can have a massive impact on your life if you are convicted. From struggling to find jobs to being excluded from different opportunities, you may find yourself wondering how long a domestic violence charge stays on your record or how long it can make an impact on your life.

Here’s some basic information on domestic violence charges in California.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence in California?

Domestic violence is legally defined as the act of committing any form of abuse against an individual whom you share an intimate relationship with. This can include physical assault, sexual assault, blatant threats, and more. In order for a crime of assault or abuse to be considered domestic violence, the defendant and the victim must have some sort of personal relationship. A personal relationship can include spouses and ex-spouses, domestic partners, children, siblings, roommates or ex-roommates, and partners or ex-partners.

There are multiple different forms of domestic violence, all of which can result in different charges and different penalties. The most common types of domestic violence in California include:

Physical Assault

Physical assaults are some of the most common domestic abuse charges. California defines any act of “intentionally or recklessly” harming, or attempting to harm, an individual whom you share a personal relationship with as a form of domestic violence. Physical domestic violence charges can include hitting, burning, slapping, punching, kicking, restraining or holding down, choking, stabbing, and other violent actions directed at an individual.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is commonly seen in domestic violence cases across the country. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence that often comes along with other kinds, such as physical abuse. Because domestic violence is an extremely traumatizing situation for anyone, it can affect their overall mental health immensely. On top of that, gaslighting, lying, threatening, and other forms of emotional abuse can all hurt an individual more.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is one of the most serious forms of domestic violence and can result in harsh consequences if you’re convicted. California defines sexual assault as any sexual act committed against another individual against their will or when they do not consent. Sexual assault can involve unlawful injury, threats, dangerous weapons, coercion, and other manipulative and dangerous behaviors.


Many people are unaware that threats are also a form of domestic violence. If an individual threatens to harm a person whom they share a close relationship with then it is legally considered an act of domestic abuse. This includes if someone is made to fear for their safety. Threats are not only considered dangerous behavior, but they also are a form of emotional abuse that can impact a victim for years to come.

Domestic Violence Charges and Your Criminal Record

Each domestic violence case occurs under unique circumstances, meaning each person convicted of it may have a slightly different charge with varying levels of severity. Certain domestic violence charges are considered felonies, some are considered misdemeanors, and some are what are referred to as “wobbler charges.” If you are convicted of a wobbler charge, such as physical assault, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on how severe the situation was. For example, physically injuring someone in a one-time altercation may be seen much differently than physical assault with a deadly weapon.

Whether or not you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence will largely impact the consequences you face and how the charge appears on your record. Regardless of the charge, however, there is no expiration time for how long it stays on your criminal record. This means that if you are convicted of domestic violence in California, it will permanently appear on your criminal record unless you have it expunged. If you face other charges in the future, having a domestic violence charge in the previous 7 years can ultimately make the consequences of your current charge much more severe.


What Is Expungement?

In the legal system, expungement is the process of legally removing certain aspects of an individual’s criminal record by sealing it or erasing the offenses. To have a charge expunged, you’ll have to file a petition, present evidence as to why you believe you should be able to have your charge hidden, and pay fees throughout the process.

What Are the Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge in California?

If you are charged with misdemeanor domestic violence in California, you can face a fine of around $2,000 as well as county jail time for up to a year. If you’re charged with a felony, you can face fines up to $6,000 as well as prison time for multiple years, depending on whether or not it’s your first offense.

Can You Have a Domestic Violence Case Dismissed in California?

California adopted a “no-drop” policy to help victims avoid threats and coercion to drop domestic violence cases. Because of this, the only way to have a domestic violence case dismissed in California is by convincing the court to do so.

What Happens If You’re Convicted of Domestic Violence in California?

If you are convicted of domestic violence in California, you can face potential jail or prison time, fines, loss of child custody, exclusion from certain job opportunities, and more.

Vista Domestic Violence Attorney

At Paula D. Kleinman, A Professional Law Corporation, our team is committed to helping each and every one of our clients through difficult times. We understand how complex and intimidating facing a charge like domestic violence can be, which is why we offer multiple expert legal services to assist you through your situation. Whether you’re looking for legal representation that you can trust or you need professional advice, our team and Attorney Paula D. Kleinman are prepared to help you. To learn more about our services or to schedule a free case evaluation, contact us today.

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