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Who May Be Considered A Victim Of Domestic Violence Under California Law?

Domestic violence laws are a special category within a state’s statutory framework. California domestic violence laws provide protection for a certain class of people characterized by having a close relationship with the accused. California also provides severe penalties for those convicted of violating domestic violence statutes. Who is a potential “victim” of domestic violence under California law?

California Penal Code § 13700 – Domestic Violence

In California, “domestic violence” is abuse committed against a class of persons that includes a partner with whom the accused has some intimate relationship. This “abuse” exists when a person intentionally or recklessly causes, or attempts to cause, bodily injury to an intimate partner. Under California Penal Code § 13700, “abuse” also exists when a person places a partner in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to another, which may also include the partner or another person.

Some of the factors that may determine whether persons are cohabiting include the following:

  • sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same living quarters,
  • sharing of income or expenses,
  • joint use or ownership of property,
  • whether the parties hold themselves out as spouses,
  • the continuity of the relationship, and
  • the length of the relationship.

An intimate partner could be any of the following:

  • A current or former spouse,
  • A current or former registered domestic partner,
  • A current or former fiancé(e),
  • A current or former live-in romantic partner (a “cohabitant”),
  • A person with whom the accused has, or has had, a child, or
  • Someone that the accused is seriously dating or has seriously dated in the past.

In sum, any partner who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the accused has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship is within the class of persons protected by the statute. A “cohabitant” means two unrelated adults living together for a substantial period, which results in some permanency of relationship.

California Penal Code § 273.5 – Corporal Injury to an Intimate Partner

California Penal Code section § 273.5 involves corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition to any of the following:

  • The offender’s spouse or former spouse;
  • The offender’s cohabitant or former cohabitant;
  • The offender’s fiancé or fiancée, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship; or
  • The mother or father of the offender’s child.

The penalties for domestic violence may be severe and include probation, anger management counseling programs, batterers’ treatment counseling programs, and jail or prison time. An eventual release on bail may still result in a protective order prohibiting an accused from returning home and requiring him or her to keep some distance from a partner and family. A conviction for assault or domestic violence may significantly affect parents’ rights to see their children. It may also substantially affect immigration status or even result in deportation.

Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to defend any charge of domestic violence. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter.

Don’t be victimized by an assault or a domestic abuse charge, especially if your actions were in self-defense. If you or someone you know has been arrested for assault or domestic violence, John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.

Who May Be Considered A Victim Of Domestic Violence Under California Law?

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