Domestic violence is a term that encompasses a variety of offenses ranging from someone making a threat of physical violence against a family member to the act of causing serious bodily injury or even death. Whether domestic violence is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony usually depends on the nature or circumstances of the incident, if the victim suffered any injuries, and the prior criminal record of the defendant.
Misdemeanor domestic violence is considered a serious offense and the defendant faces not just fines or probation, but also jail time for up to a year or more if you face additional charges. In addition to these consequences, domestic violence misdemeanor convictions could also have other repercussions such as loss of child custody or visitation rights, job loss, or inability to get a new job or housing.
This is because employers or landlords often require applicants to disclose domestic violence charges, even if they are misdemeanors. Also, under California law, if you have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, you will lose your right to own a firearm. This is also true if your spouse has sought a restraining order against you. It is illegal to sell firearms to an individual who has been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
There may also be instances when misdemeanors in domestic violence cases may be bumped up to felony charges. This would again depend on the circumstances of your case. For example, if the incident involved sexual abuse or assault on a child, the incident is likely to yield felony charges. Felony charges could result in increased penalties including a potential prison sentence.
What Happens in Misdemeanor Cases?
Often, the first step is to have a hearing to determine whether a temporary restraining order or TRO is necessary. If this protective order is issued, the defendant may have to move out of the residence and restrictions will be imposed with regard to the type of contact the defendant may maintain with his or her family members. After a full hearing, the judge will likely determine if a permanent restraining order is warranted and whether child custody and visitation privileges need to be modified.
As you can see, misdemeanor domestic violence charges could not only result in jail time, but they could also have a serious impact on your life and on the lives of your family members. If you have been accused of misdemeanor domestic violence, it is crucial that you get in touch with an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer right away. You need a skilled defense attorney on your side who will examine the evidence and develop a sound strategy to fight these serious charges.
As domestic violence defense attorneys, we often find that charges are filed based on false allegations or simply because a former spouse wants to get the upper hand in a child custody battle. We understand that domestic violence charges, even misdemeanor charges, can have real consequences such as job loss and tarnishing your reputation in the community. If you are facing domestic violence charges, contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation. We are here to help you.