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Domestic Violence (DV) is a broad term to classify criminal offenses which can be charged and punished in several different ways depending upon the circumstances of the case, the nature of the relationship, the location of the arrest, and the accused's criminal history. Serious domestic violence incidents can be charged as felonies.

The most common domestic violence charge is California Penal Code Section 273.5. This criminal offense involves inflicting injury on a spouse, cohabitant, fellow parent or person the accused has dated. The offense can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor. Penal Code §273.5 reads as follows:

(a) Any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim described in subdivision

(b) is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(1) The offender’s spouse or former spouse.

(2) The offender’s cohabitant or former cohabitant.

(3) The offender’s fiancé or fiancée, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship, as defined in paragraph (10) of subdivision (f) of Section 243.

(4) The mother or father of the offender’s child.

Another commonly charged domestic violence offense is California Penal Code Section 243(e). This criminal charge involves committing a battery on a spouse, cohabitant, fellow parent or person the accused dated. This criminal domestic violence charge is a misdemeanor.  Penal Code Section 243 (e) (1) reads in pertinent part:

“When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant’s child, former spouse, fiancé or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of the sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that the defendant participate in, for no less than one year, and successfully complete, a batterer’s treatment program, as described in Section 1203.097, or if none is available, another appropriate counseling program designated by the court…”

In California you can be arrested and prosecuted for Domestic Violence even if the victim does not want you arrested. In some cases, especially with Spousal Abuse, it is very difficult for the victim to drop charges against the abuser. The Prosecutor can proceed with the criminal case even if the alleged victim decides not to go to court. The Prosecutor is the only one who can drop charges because the victim is merely a witness in a government prosecution.