Domestic Violence

Attorney Richard M. Oberto offers expert legal representation in Domestic Violence cases. He can provide clients with peace of mind and a strategic way forward during a difficult time.

Domestic Violence offenses require a special relationship between the accused person and alleged victim. The alleged victim must have been a spouse, cohabitant, fellow parent, or person with whom the accused person had a dating or engagement relationship. The relationship between the accused and the alleged victim does not need to have been current or ongoing for Domestic Violence charges to apply. The charges may apply as long as there was a past relationship that meets the legal criteria.

Spousal Battery and Spousal Abuse

Penal Code section 243(e)(1) defines the crime of battery in a Domestic Violence case. A battery can include any touching, provided that it is done in a harmful or offensive manner.

Penal Code section 273.5(a) defines the Domestic Violence crime of inflicting injury that results in a “traumatic condition.” The law defines “traumatic condition” as a wound or bodily injury caused by direct application of force. Although the injury must have resulted from direct force, it may be minor or serious.

Punishments for Spousal Battery and Spousal Abuse

Spousal Battery under Penal Code section 243(e)(1) is punishable as a misdemeanor. The punishment may include up to one year in jail, substantial fines, mandatory completion of a 52-week batterer’s treatment program, and other terms and conditions.

Spousal Abuse under section 273.5(a) is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, the charge carries a penalty of up to one year in jail, substantial fines, and requires mandatory completion of a 52-week batterer’s treatment program.

Felony spousal abuse under section 273.5(a) carries a potential imprisonment term of two, three, or four years. The maximum imprisonment term may be two, four, or five years under section 273.5(f) if a person is alleged to have certain prior convictions for domestic violence, battery, sexual battery, or assault. The penalties in any case may be greater if certain enhancements or other prior convictions are proved. Despite the potential for imprisonment, a person convicted under Penal Code section 273.5 may be eligible for probation and a suspended sentence.

The District Attorney has the initial discretion to allege a violation of section 273.5(a) as a misdemeanor or felony. When a person is charged with a felony, he may be able in certain circumstances to apply to the court for reduction to a misdemeanor. A person might be able to apply successfully for reduction to a misdemeanor even as he continues to defend against the charge. A person should discuss the option and applicable strategies with his attorney.

Other Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence cases may be charged under Penal Code sections other than 243 and 273.5. Charges may include Criminal Threats (Penal Code section 422), Violation of a Protective Order (Penal Code section 273.6), Malicious Damage to a Telephone or Electrical Line (Penal Code section 591), Kidnapping (Penal Code section 207), False Imprisonment (Penal Code section 236), and others.

Great Bodily Injury

Penal Code section 12022.7(e) defines a specific enhancement for Great Bodily Injury in Domestic Violence Cases. The enhancement carries a maximum prison term of three, four, or five years. The prison term is imposed in addition to any prison sentence for the underlying felony. The GBI allegation converts an underlying felony to a Strike Offense under California’s Three Strikes Law.

Batterer’s Treatment Program

Conviction for a Domestic Violence offense in California requires completion of a 52-week batterer’s treatment program. The program ordinarily requires weekly attendance and payment of course fees. Failure to complete the classes, either due to non-payment or non-attendance, may be considered a violation of probation or other supervised release.

Protective and Restraining Orders

The prosecution in a domestic violence case case may request a protective or restraining order prior to trial. The consequences can be very serious. An accused person may have to move out of his home, may be deprived of his Second Amendment rights, and may find himself alienated from his family. An accused person can be charged with a new criminal offense for violating a protective or restraining order. Mr. Oberto can ensure that clients receive their right to a full hearing and that their rights are fully protected.

Expert Legal Guidance

Mr. Oberto welcomes people to contact him 24/7 at (559) 221-2557 to request an initial consultation. Se habla Español.

People also may contact Mr. Oberto to request an initial consultation using the contact form available on this website. Please do not use the contact form to write down sensitive information. Information communicated over the internet, including through this website, may not be considered confidential or privileged.

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