If you are a victim of domestic violence, you are certainly not alone. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control, 31.5 percent of women and 27.5 percent of men had been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Domestic violence not only affects your physical well being, but can take a serious toll on your career, mental health, and the emotional and behavioral development of your children. Our team of attorneys has experience dealing with aspects of family law, including divorce, restraining orders, orders of protection, custody, and any other legal resource you may need during this time.
How Is Domestic Violence Legally Defined?
The California Penal Code Section 273 identifies domestic violence as an instance when an individual “inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim” and identifies victims of domestic violence as being the offender’s former or current spouse, cohabitant, fiance or fiancee, someone the offender has had an engagement or dating relationship with, and/or the parent of the offender’s child. There are many different kinds of abuse, including:
- Emotional Abuse
- Includes threats, extreme jealousy, restricting relationships with friends or family, controlling travel, humiliation
- Sexual Abuse and Coercion
- Includes forcing you into sexual situations, ignoring protests about a sexual situation, knowingly passing on STDs
- Reproductive Coercion
- Includes refusing or sabotaging any contraceptive methods, monitoring your menstrual cycles, forcing a pregnancy or abortion
- Financial Abuse
- Includes using allowances to monitor income, preventing access to bank accounts and finances, using your credit cards and not paying them off, refusing to contribute to household finances, stealing money, preventing you from finding employment
- Digital Abuse
- Includes monitoring all social media activity, continually sending you threatening or insulting messages, pressuring you to send explicit images or videos, sending you unwanted explicit images or videos, looking through your phone’s pictures and contacts, using spyware such as GPS to monitor you
You may be experiencing physical abuse if your partner:
- Pulls your hair, chokes, slaps, bites, kicks, or punches you
- Prevents you from eating or sleeping
- Prevents you from alerting law enforcement or seek medical assistance
- Abandons you in unfamiliar places
- Drives recklessly while you are in the car
- Forces you to consume drugs or alcohol
What Are The Repercussions Of Being Charged With Domestic Violence?
When charged with spousal battery under California Penal Code Section 243, the offender can expect to either pay a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. If probation is granted, the offender must complete a batterer’s treatment program for one year. If probation is violated, the offender may be required to make payments to a battered women’s shelter of no more than $5,000 and/or reimburse the victim for reasonable costs of counseling or medical attention.
When charged with corporal injury of a spouse under California Penal Code Section 273.5 resulting in traumatic injury, it will be considered a felony and punished with imprisonment in a state prison for two, three, or four years, imprisonment in a county jail for no more than one year, a fine of up to $6,000, or both fine and imprisonment. If a person has been charged in the last seven years, they can be imprisoned in county jail for a maximum of one year, a state prison for two, four, or five years, or pay a fine of up to $10,000. If probation is granted, but the person has committed the same offense in the last seven years, they can be imprisoned in a county jail for no less than 15 days.
When convicted of domestic violence, the offender may lose privileges related to gun ownership, child custody and visitation, and have the offense on their employment record.
How Does Domestic Violence Impact the Divorce Process?
California is historically has a “no-fault divorce” clause, but this condition changes if a spouse had been convicted of domestic violence. Spousal support will most likely not be granted to an abuser, although they still may be able to defend themselves in court. Given that a victim may have suffered financial loss in the form of medical visits, counseling, or prevention from seeking employment, the court may take this into consideration when dividing marital assets.
Although it isn’t necessary for an individual to file criminal charges against their abuser, it would be advisable if looking to bring up the abuse in family court. Without it, the victim may be left vulnerable to “counterattacks” that may compromise the validity of a victim’s claims.
How Does A Domestic Violence Charge Affect Child Custody/Visitation?
A domestic violence charge will be a serious consideration when reviewing child custody or visitation. A judge will look at whether the offender still poses a threat to the child, how severe the violence in question was, whether there is a criminal case, and any evidence of bodily injury. A judge may suspend child visitation temporarily or long-term, order supervised visitations, revise existing visitation conditions, require counseling, or issue a restraining order. Ultimately, child custody will always be considering the best interests of the child.
How Does A Restraining Order Work With Domestic Violence Cases?
Filing a restraining order can provide peace of mind during a time when legal battles heighten emotions between divorcing spouses, especially when domestic violence is a factor. A restraining order might be granted during a domestic violence criminal case for the protection of a victim and a child, but you may want to file one irregardless.
Should an offender intentionally violate a restraining order, under California Penal Code Section 273.6, they may be fined for up to $1,000, imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or both. If the violation results in physical injury, they may be required to pay a fine of up to $2,000, imprisoned in a county jail for a minimum of 30 days and maximum of one year, or both. However, a court can eliminate the minimum day requirement based on the severity of the situation.
Resources for Domestic Violence Victims in San Diego
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and are seeking help, there are a number of resources available to you in the San Diego area.
- San Diego County Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault 24-hour Hotline
Phone: (888) DV-LINKS (365-4657)
- San Diego Family Justice Center: A center providing a variety of services for domestic violence victims, including legal advice, counseling, medical attention, and employment readiness training:
Address: San Diego Housing Commission Building: 1122 Broadway, 2nd Floor, San Diego, CA 9201,
Phone: (619) 533-6000
Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Vi McKinney Becky’s House: Emergency and short-term shelter
Address: 1012 C St San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 239-0355
Hours: 24 hours
Contact Our Domestic Violence Law Attorneys
If you are considering a divorce or need legal assistance for cases related to domestic violence, contact one of our attorneys today. Our team of attorneys has extensive experience with cases regarding domestic violence, divorce, restraining orders, and other family law issues.