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Domestic Violence

In Alhambra, California, domestic violence is a crime that focuses on the alleged victims of the crime. For many people who have been accused of a crime, this can lead to confusion because similar incidents carry drastically different penalties simply because the so-called victim is different.

A conviction for any crime that has an element of domestic violence to it can be very costly. Los Angeles domestic violence attorney William Kroger knows this and legally represents those who have been accused of domestic violence both in the courtroom and outside of it.

Incidents of Domestic Violence in Alhambra, California

Technically, domestic violence is not an individual crime in Alhambra, California. Instead, it is an element of criminal actions that make the penalties more severe – similar to an aggravating factor.

In California, the aggravating factor that turns an alleged crime into an allegation of domestic violence is the relationship between you, the defendant, and the purported victim, also known as the complainant. The precise nature of the relationship necessary to turn a normal crime into a crime of domestic violence, however, can change depending on the underlying charge: Some charges require a closer relationship between the defendant and complainant than others.

For example, the type of relationship needed for a criminal charge to become a domestic violence charge is different for the crime of spousal abuse, prohibited by California Penal Code 273.5, then it is for the crime of domestic battery under California Penal Code 243(e)(1). Spousal abuse requires the defendant and complainant to be either:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Current or former cohabitants
  • Fiancés
  • Currently or previously in a dating relationship
  • Parents of a particular child

On the other hand, domestic battery is more confined. It requires the relationship between the defendant and complainant to be:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Current cohabitants
  • Fiancés
  • Currently or previously in a dating relationship
  • Parents of a particular child

While nearly identical, there is an important difference: Charges of spousal abuse can come from altercations between former cohabitants, while charges of domestic battery cannot.

If there is a necessarily close relationship between the defendant and complainant, certain types of conduct can turn from regular crimes into crimes of domestic violence.

Domestic Battery in Alhambra, California – Penal Code 243(e)(1)

Perhaps the most common crime of domestic violence in California is domestic battery, which is the intentional infliction of force against someone you have a close relationship with. Unlike more severe domestic violence crimes, domestic battery does not require the force to result in a visible injury.

Because domestic battery covers what can be relatively light violence, it is only a misdemeanor charge in California. Nevertheless, a conviction can come with up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Spousal Abuse in Alhambra, California – Penal Code 273.5

A common but more severe form of domestic violence in California is spousal abuse. While the group of people who can claim to be victims of spousal abuse is wider, there are more elements to the case that need to be proven in order for there to be a conviction: Spousal abuse requires a willfully inflicted injury that results in a traumatic condition.

Importantly, the “traumatic condition” necessary to prove a case of spousal abuse has to be a wound or injury that was caused by direct physical force. These injuries can come directly from the defendant in the form of punches, kicks, or other physical contacts, or from the reasonably foreseeable consequences of that contact, like the bruises that come after being pushed down a flight of stairs.

Because spousal abuse involves injuries that are more severe than those necessary to prove a case of domestic battery, the penalties for spousal abuse under PC 273.5 are significantly more extreme. In fact, prosecutors can pursue felony charges for spousal abuse if they think the facts warrant the accusation. If they choose to pursue a claim of spousal abuse as a felony, the penalties of a conviction include a fine of up to $6,000 and a jail sentence of up to four years. Otherwise, the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $6,000 and up to one year in jail.

Subsequent Offenses of Domestic Violence in Alhambra, California

While the penalties for spousal abuse or domestic battery are significant, already, they become even worse if you have been convicted of a similar crime at some point in the last seven years.

For people facing a charge of spousal abuse, therefore, the penalties you could face if you get convicted are even worse if you have been convicted of spousal abuse or one of these in the past seven years:

  • Assault and battery
  • Sexual battery
  • Domestic battery

If this is the case, the fine you could face for the current accusation of spousal abuse increases to a fine of up to $10,000, and a jail sentence of up to five years, rather than four.

Collateral Consequences of a Conviction for Domestic Violence in Alhambra, California

A conviction for a domestic violence charge of spousal abuse or domestic battery is not a trivial thing, even if the charges were only misdemeanors. The fines and potential jail time are steep, but the penalties do not stop there, particularly if the conviction was for a felony-level offense of spousal abuse.

People who have a felony-level domestic violence offense on their criminal background will face a variety of repercussions and consequences that go above and beyond the criminal sanctions of their convictions. These can include:

  • Immigration issues up to and including deportation
  • Losing your right to own a firearm, sometimes permanently
  • The potential suspension or even revocation of a professional license
  • Ineligibility to receive federal or government aid
  • Exclusion from some professional fields

A conviction for spousal abuse or domestic battery can also be found by anyone who conducts a criminal background check on you. This can make it more difficult to get a job, apartment, or even a student loan.

In some circumstances, these collateral consequences of a crime of domestic violence can be more serious than the fines and jail sentence.

Legal Defenses to Domestic Violence Accusations in Alhambra, California.

An accusation of domestic violence is not a conviction – it just means that someone else is claiming that you did the deed. In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor will have to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that those claims were correct.

With the penalties of a conviction so high, you will need to raise effective legal defenses to a charge of spousal abuse or domestic battery if you want to protect your future.

Insufficient Evidence

One of the most common defenses – and often the most effective – is that there is not enough evidence to prove that you committed the crime you are being accused of committing. In many cases, domestic violence claims are unsubstantiated, with no witnesses or other evidence outside of the claimant's accusations. These cases turn into “he said, she said” scenarios that can be devastating to lose. Showing that the claimant's accusations cannot be trusted is often all that stands between you and a serious criminal conviction.

False Accusations of Domestic Violence

Because domestic violence situations are often emotionally intense – but also because the consequences of a conviction are severe – many accusations of domestic battery or spousal abuse come more from jealousy or anger than from actual violence. Fake accusations are a part of domestic violence law. Unfortunately, because the legal system has to take them seriously from the start, it is often up to you to prove that they are groundless and that the claimant is manipulating the justice system for their own gain. Proving this defense is difficult, but can seriously turn the tide of a devastating accusation.


Many domestic violence incidents are not entirely one-sided. Instead, both of the people involved caused physical harm. If you were merely protecting yourself when you hurt the claimant, it can be an effective defense to the accusation because you have a right to defend yourself.

Of course, self-defense is not an unlimited defense. It only serves as an excuse for domestic battery or spousal abuse if you

  • Reasonably believed that either you or someone else was in imminent danger of suffering a bodily injury
  • That the immediate use of force was necessary to prevent it; and
  • You used only so much force as was necessary.

Lack of Intent

Both domestic battery and spousal abuse require the physical contact and injuries to be willfully caused. Accidentally hurting the claimant cannot lead to a conviction for domestic violence, as negligent conduct is far less culpable than deliberate conduct.

William Kroger: Alhambra Domestic Violence Attorney

William Kroger, domestic violence attorney, represents people who have been accused of a variety of crimes in and near Los Angeles, including domestic battery and spousal abuse. If you have been accused of hurting someone close to you, hiring an effective defense lawyer can be the difference between a dismissed charge and a conviction. Call Alhambra domestic violence defense lawyer William Kroger at his Los Angeles law office at 323-655-5700 or contact William Kroger online.

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