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Domestic Violence -

       According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NACDC) one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. They estimate about 1.3 million women become victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. The more common term is Intimate Partner Battering (IPB) which has replaced the former term, Battered Women's Syndrome (BWS).


       Domestic violence is defined in Penal Code §243.5(a) as: Any person who willfully inflicts upon a person who is his or her spouse, former spouse.

Domestic Violence Offenses

       In California, there were 176,000 IPB-related calls in 2006, of which nearly half involved weapons including knives and guns. Almost 44,000 people were arrested for domestic violence offenses in 2006, 80% being men and 20% were women. 134 homicides resulted, with female victims in 80% of the cases.

       There is a special provision for battery in a domestic relationship. When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a parent of the defendant's child, former spouse, fiancé or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the punishment can be doubled up to one year of county jail and $2,000 in fines. Additionally, the defendant will probably be required to successfully complete a yearlong batterer's treatment program. In addition, there can be very serious immigration consequences from a domestic violence charge.

Prison Sentences

       If the person inflicts an actual injury, even a minor one, then the person could be charged with a felony violation of Penal Code §273.5. The punishment for a felony domestic violence charge under Penal Code §273.5 can include a state prison commitment of two, three or four years.

       Domestic violence charges usually arise when there is some type of argument between two people who are either married or living together. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the nature of the injury. There are significant potential immigration consequences.

Victims of Domestic Violence / Self Help

       The California Courts also offer a "Self-help Center" for people who are victims of domestic violence of who know someone who is a victim and needs help. The website is an excellent resource as it answers many questions, suggests ways to get free or low-cost help in the various counties and offers many other hotlines and resources as well as ways to get restraining orders. The website can be reached at:

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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