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Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyers 

Defending Clients Facing Domestic Violence Charges in California

California law enforcement and prosecutors don't take allegations of domestic violence (DV) lightly. Whether by training or human nature, they are often predisposed to believing the accuser's side of the story. Court dockets are full of cases against people wrongfully accused of domestic abuse, and many alleged abusers have had their reputations damaged by false accusations.

At The Law Office of Stein & Markus, we provide strong defenses for clients accused of domestic abuse in Southern California. Our Bellflower attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience on criminal cases' defense and prosecution sides, including hundreds of DV matters. Our goal is to guide you through the legal process, always be there to answer questions, and do everything we can to obtain positive results for you.

What is Domestic Violence?

California law defines "domestic violence" as the abuse of an intimate partner. A person commits "abuse" through either reckless or intentional use/threats of force against their intimate partner.

An "intimate partner" means a current or former spouse, registered domestic partner, fiancé(e), or cohabitant. It also means someone with a child with the accused or anyone they are currently dating/previously dated seriously.

Other people—such as children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and other relatives—can also be victims of DV, though under the California Family Code rather than the criminal law. This is important in cases involving custody disputes.

Call Stein & Markus today at (562) 512-7030 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with our domestic violence attorney in Los Angeles!

What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence in California?

California imposes severe penalties for domestic violence offenses, reflecting the state's commitment to protecting victims and ensuring accountability for perpetrators. If convicted, individuals may face the following consequences:

Mandatory Jail Time

  • Convicted domestic violence offenders can expect a minimum jail sentence, typically around thirty days, depending on the severity of the incident and the county.
  • Even for first-time offenders facing misdemeanor charges, this minimum jail sentence applies.

Victim Restitution and Domestic Violence Funding:

  • Convicted individuals may be required to pay restitution to the accuser, covering expenses such as medical bills, mental health counseling, property damage, or lost wages.
  • A mandatory $500 fee may be imposed to fund California domestic violence programs, irrespective of the restitution costs.

Enrollment into a Batterers' Program

  • California judges often mandate attendance in a "batterers' program" for those convicted of domestic violence aimed at treatment and counseling.
  • The program typically lasts one year, even if the sentence is probation instead of jail time.

A Criminal Record—Often Permanent

  • A domestic violence conviction leaves a lasting mark on the criminal record, impacting background checks for employment, state licensing, and housing.
  • The effects are long-term and can persist unless the domestic violence charge is expunged.

Termination of Custody Rights, If Relevant

  • A domestic violence conviction can result in the loss of custody rights, even if the child was not directly involved.
  • Convicted domestic abusers in California often have limited or no custody rights, possibly restricted to visitation.

Loss of Firearm Rights

  • Conviction of a domestic violence-related charge leads to the permanent loss of gun rights, preventing the purchase or possession of firearms in California and beyond.
  • Federal law dictates the loss of gun rights even for misdemeanor convictions, with no possibility of reinstatement.

Is Domestic Violence a Felony in California?

Unfortunately, the answer to this common question isn't the most straightforward. Essentially, in the state of California, some forms of domestic violence will be considered misdemeanors, while others will be deemed felonies. Many cases of domestic violence will be treated as "wobbler" situations—this means that the judge will be able to determine whether or not the conviction is a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the details of the situation.

If aggravating factors are involved in the accusation, then the conviction will almost always be a felony. For instance, if there is a visible, severe injury to the accused individual, this will be deemed an aggravating factor. Or, if the accusations include threats involving a deadly weapon, this will also be deemed an aggravating factor.

Alternatively, the conviction can be a misdemeanor if the accuser doesn't sustain any significant injury. Nonetheless, even a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence can result in serious repercussions; it is still essential that you fight these charges for the sake of your future.

  • Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant: This is the most frequently charged domestic violence offense in California. "Corporal injury" is another term for "bodily injury". It is illegal to inflict even slight physical injury on an intimate partner. This crime is a felony with possible penalties for a first offense ranging from a year in county jail to four years in state prison, plus fines up to $6,000.
  • Domestic Battery: Inflicting force or violence on an intimate partner is a misdemeanor known as domestic battery. This charge can be filed even if the victim has no visible injury, which is the big difference between this law and the corporal injury law above. Penalties include fines up to $2,000 and/or a year in jail.
  • Criminal Threats: If an intimate partner alleges that you threatened him or her, you can be charged with making criminal threats. This can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.
  • Child Abuse: Corporal punishment of a child is a crime in California, except for reasonable spankings. Cruel punishments or cause injury are punished by one to three years in jail.


If you’re accused of domestic violence in California, it is possible to receive probation rather than a jail sentence. Generally, this will only be the case in less severe instances. For example, this could be the case if it’s the accused’s first offense and the accuser has only sustained minor injuries. Further, if the accused receives a misdemeanor conviction, they are more likely to receive probation than someone convicted of felony domestic abuse.

Even in these instances, if the probation terms aren’t followed, the accused could still be sent to prison. In addition, rather than settle for probation over jail time, it’s still important to fight the conviction in the first place. All domestic violence convictions, whether they’re misdemeanors or felonies, can wreak havoc on an individual’s day-to-day life and opportunities. 

Contact Stein & Markus about your domestic violence case today! 

Do I need an Attorney if I'm Accused of Domestic Violence?

The answer to this question is quite simple: Yes, if you are ever accused of domestic violence, one of the first actions you take should be hiring a defense attorney. Your lawyer will be an invaluable asset to your case throughout the entire legal process.

Domestic violence battles aren't easy to fight if you are the party that was accused. Again, remember that California takes these accusations extremely seriously, whether or not any evidence exists against the accused individual. Due to the nature of the allegation, the unfortunate truth is that CA law enforcement agencies will have a strong bias against you, more often than not.

In addition, an attorney has the legal experience to understand what information judges are looking at as they reach their conclusion. Without this experience, you likely have no way of knowing how a judge will determine the punishment they issue or how they know whether to issue a conviction in the first place. If you're left in the dark regarding this essential information, you're unlikely to succeed at defending yourself.

An attorney might also be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the judge to help you avoid the severe consequence of a domestic violence conviction.

Under no circumstances should you neglect to hire a defense attorney simply because you believe the case to be hopeless. Although it can be challenging to win against a domestic violence accusation, it is entirely possible. In particular, working with an attorney is the main way an individual can succeed at clearing their name.

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Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges

Defending against domestic violence charges requires a comprehensive and strategic approach, considering the nuances of each case. At Stein & Markus, we understand the complexities surrounding domestic violence allegations and employ a range of defenses to protect our client's rights. Some common defenses against domestic violence charges in California include:

  • False Accusations: Demonstrating that the allegations are false or maliciously motivated can be a potent defense. This may involve presenting evidence contradicting the accuser's statements or highlighting any ulterior motives behind the accusations.
  • Self-Defense: Establishing that the accused acted in self-defense or defense of others can be a valid defense strategy. This involves demonstrating that using force was necessary to protect oneself from imminent harm.
  • Lack of Evidence: Challenging the prosecution's case by questioning the reliability of the evidence presented. This may involve scrutinizing the credibility of witnesses, challenging the admissibility of specific evidence, or highlighting gaps and inconsistencies in the prosecution's case.
  • Mistaken Identity: Arguing that the accused was wrongly identified as the perpetrator can be a strong defense. This defense strategy may involve presenting evidence that suggests another individual may be responsible for the alleged domestic violence.
  • Consent: In some instances, the defense may argue that the alleged victim consented to the conduct. This defense is highly fact-specific and requires careful examination of the incident's circumstances.
  • No Intention to Cause Harm: Establishing that the accused did not intend to cause harm can be a defense strategy. This may involve demonstrating that the actions were accidental, lacked the requisite intent, or were misinterpreted.
  • Recantation or Retraction: In some cases, the alleged victim may recant or retract their statements. While the prosecution may still proceed with the case, a recantation can create reasonable doubt and undermine the credibility of the allegations.
  • Inadequate Investigation: Challenging the adequacy of the investigation conducted by law enforcement. This may involve questioning the evidence collection, handling witnesses, or any procedural errors that could impact the case.

What To Do If You Are Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

False accusations of domestic violence can be challenging to deal with due to the court of public opinion. As soon as an individual is accused of a domestic violence-related crime, it isn't uncommon for everyone else to quickly turn against them—whether or not there is any evidence of a crime.

Firstly, make sure that you take immediate action. Even if there's no evidence, you mustn't simply wait, hoping that nothing will come of the allegations. Rather, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the less likely you'll do inadvertent damage to your case.

Although it can seem unfathomable that someone would falsely accuse another person of a crime as severe as domestic violence, it does happen. Whether the accusation is being used as leverage during a divorce or separation, or if these allegations are a form of revenge, someone can be falsely accused of domestic abuse.

Aside from hiring your attorney, you should also utilize your right to remain silent. One of the most damaging moves that someone can make after a false domestic violence allegation is to waive their right to silence. Even if you say something that you believe is innocuous (or even something that you feel supports your side of the case), there's still a strong risk that this could backfire on you. Remember, this cannot be reversed once you've slipped up and damaged your case. So, it's best not to take the risk.

This especially includes speaking with the accuser. It might be your first instinct to confront this person directly, but this is one of the most dangerous moves you can make. Instead, avoid speaking to the accuser, in any form, until after you've hired a criminal defense attorney.

Contact Our Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney Today

Whenever an individual is accused of a crime, especially a crime as severe as domestic violence, the first step they take should be to hire a Los Angeles domestic violence lawyer.

With so much on the line, you mustn’t simply hire the first lawyer. Rather, you should work with the top criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles, California. At Stein & Markus, we have over 75 years’ worth of combined legal experience—thus, we have an intimate understanding of how to successfully defend someone against domestic violence accusations.

If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, remember that all hope is not lost. To start your defense process and raise your chances of avoiding a criminal conviction, contact The Law Office of Stein & Markus at your earliest convenience. To schedule a consultation, simply contact us through our online form.

Contact Stein & Markus today to meet with our domestic violence lawyer in Los Angeles!

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