Domestic violence charges under the California Penal Code are generally wobblers. Wobblers are statutes that do not define whether a certain charge will be a felony of a misdemeanor, instead the District or City attorney may charge it as they see fit based on the specific facts of the case.
The domestic violence laws did not used to be as strict as they are currently. Over time the Courts have taken a much harsher stance on potential consequences starting the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995. After the trial involved spouse on spouse injury, the Courts took a firmer perspective on the concept of domestic violence.
The most minor injury may now be charged as misdemeanor or possibly even a felony to demonstrate that the Courts are taking a no nonsense approach to domestic violence charges. The relationship that defines a domestic one under the applicable penal code statutes represents relationships of trust and intimacy. It is directed towards a person that is in a vulnerable position with the person being charged.
Statistically, Courts are charging many more domestic violence charges as felonies, and where there used to be a very clear line between those charges that would be a misdemeanor and those that would be a felony, it is no longer the case.
Let’s compare two different cases. Harry and Wendy get into a fight, and Harry slightly pushes Wendy. She falls backwards but has no visible bruises or marks. In another situation, Hank hits Winifred in the face and she suffers serious injuries to her head. Both are likely to be charged as felonies, however, the fight between Harry and Wendy may be reduced to a misdemeanor.
An experienced Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer can prepare a powerful argument that will help reduce domestic violence charges that wouldn’t normally rise to the status of a felony. The attorney will gather information regarding the couple, letters from friends, evidence from the community that helps present the person being charged in a positive light. This helps the Courtroom see the person as more than a case number.
If the case is successfully reduced to a misdemeanor, then the range of potential penalties will also be lower. This helps the person being charged avoid jail time and keep the fine as low as possible. The case between Harry and Wendy may be able to avoid jail time, however the case concerning Hank and Winifred will likely be charged as a felony due to its seriousness.
In cases which the facts amount to a felony, a knowledgeable Criminal Defense attorney is still a crucial component in the case. The attorney will be able to contest the elements of the case, but if convicted will fight hard to assure that the final sentence falls towards the lower end of the spectrum, avoiding jail time at all costs.