Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer


Pen. Code Sec. 273.5

Whether you have been charged with 273.5, Felony or Misdemeanor, or the lesser charge of 243(e)(1) Domestic Battery, inter-partner violence is a unique and often times difficult crime to prove at trial.  This is because the only witness to the crime is usually the battered partner who is often unwilling to testify against the defendant.  Additionally, the victim is not in jeopardy of being held in contempt for refusing to testify.  Because of this, however, there are some relaxed evidence rules to assist in the prosecution of these crimes.  This is also true of Child Abuse.  Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney Peter Sebastian was specially trained in the prosecution of DV cases while at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. He understands the nuances of these cases.  The following are some key points to keep in mind when facing Spousal Abuse charges.
  • Domestic Violence is a “wobbler” meaning it can be charged as a Felony, with up to 4 years incarceration (State Prison sentence service in County Jail) and six thousand dollar fine; or as a Misdemeanor with up to a year in County Jail, and a one thousand dollar fine.
  • Someone may be charged regardless if he or she is married to, or even living with the partner. Alternatively, someone may be charged with DV as the result of a physical altercation, just because he or she is living under the same roof with the victim, and has no romantic relationship with the victim at all.
  • All domestic violence crimes carry a state mandated 1 year domestic abuse class. The class can be group or individual, and meets once a week for 52 weeks.
  • A “Keep Away” order is required and will be ordered by the court at arraignment. This order requires that the defendant stay away from the victim and to have no contact with the victim whatsoever, including electronically or through a 3rd person.  This order may eventually be “modified” such that a defendant may resume contact with the victim, however this is not going to happen at arraignment.  The practical result of this order can be extremely disruptive to the home since it normally requires the defendant to move out or risk violating the court order and landing in jail.
  • Child Protective Services may also become involved if there are children in the home.  The children may be removed from the home if the victim is found to be allowing the Defendant to continue to live there in violation of the order.
  • What you might consider an “injury” need not have been inflicted to warrant a DV charge, only what’s termed a “traumatic condition.”  This is really any mark resulting from physical contact. However, if an injury requiring medical attention was inflicted, often a “Great Bodily Injury” enhancement is charged, elevating the penalty.  “Great Bodily Injury” doesn’t have to be life threatening as you might imagine.  Any injury beyond “minor or moderate” harm will suffice.
  • The lesser charge of Domestic Battery, 243(e)(1), may be charged with no physical marks at all.
  • DV is a “priorable” crime, meaning the penalty increases with subsequent incidents. A second DV conviction within seven years brings a mandatory 15 days jail, and a third, 60 days.
Domestic abuse charges are much more complicated than any ordinary battery or assault for the reasons mentioned above – and that list is far from complete.  If you have been charged with any Domestic Abuse charge you will need an attorney who understands these complexities.  Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer Peter Sebastian has not only prosecuted, but has defended these cases successfully, negotiating lengthy incarceration offers on strike enhancements down to very little to no jail at all.