California Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence is a matter taken very seriously in the California Court system. Because the system is hard on domestic violence offenders, it is vital that you have someone experienced in these kinds of cases on your side.

Criminal Charge in California? Please call (800) 944-8912.

Domestic violence cases have extremely high emotions and can be some of the hardest cases to go through. As a defendant, you probably feel like everyone is out to get you and you may even feel betrayed by your family or friends.

Because we have handled cases very similar to yours, we understand what you are going through. Even more than that though, we understand California’s domestic violence laws. We are committed to defending you and making sure your rights are protected. Our attorneys can defend you against a criminal domestic violence charge, and work to get the best resolution possible, so you can move on with your life. Call us for your free consultation to find out what we can do for you.

What Is Domestic Violence under California Law?

California domestic violence laws are governed by how the terms “domestic” and “abuse” are defined in the statutes.

To be found guilty of domestic abuse, you must commit “abuse” to someone you have a “domestic” relationship with.

Many people are surprised that the alleged victim in the case does not have to be a spouse or family member for the crime to be considered domestic.

Any of the following relationships could be considered domestic:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Someone you are dating
  • Someone you formerly dated
  • Roommate or former roommate
  • Parent of your child
  • Family including parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and 1st cousins

Under California statute, abuse is defined as: intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, sexual assault, or placing a person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

Reference: California Family Code Division 10

Does that mean I can be found guilty of domestic abuse without even touching someone?

The short answer is yes. What may have seemed like empty threats in a time of anger, can be misinterpreted by the alleged victim and be considered domestic abuse under California law.

What if she wants to drop the charges?

In domestic violence cases, it is very rare to near impossible for the alleged victim to get the charges dropped. Even if she (or he) wants to forgive and forget, the state prosecutor may not be so forgiving.

Once the charges are filed the prosecution for the state takes over the case and has the final say in if charges are dropped.

Is domestic violence a felony or misdemeanor?

Under California law, domestic violence cases are handled by a domestic violence unit with special prosecutors who only handle these types of cases. The prosecutor in your case decides if your domestic violence charge will be a misdemeanor or a felony.

How the prosecutor decides to charge you depends mostly on the circumstances of the alleged crime. If there were serious injuries involved, the chance is good that you will be charged with a felony. However, if there were only threats or minor injuries you may get charged with a misdemeanor.

What are California’s Domestic Violence Penalties?

I’m sure you are worried about what can happen to you. The penalties in sentencing if you are convicted of a domestic violence charge are severe. A well planned and expert legal defense can minimize the risk of the harshest penalties.

Your potential sentence depends on if the prosecutor opted to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor.


  • 52-week domestic violence counseling
  • 40 hours community service
  • Fines
  • Up to 6 months in jail

  • 52-week domestic violence counseling
  • 40 hours community service
  • Fines
  • 3 months to 3 years in prison


Please Call Us for Help With a Domestic Charge in CA

When facing domestic violence charges in the state of California, it is necessary to have an experienced legal team on your side. We will listen to you and be sure that your side is heard in court. We will defend you and do our best to get you a positive outcome in this difficult time. CallĀ  now for the help you need.