Monterey Domestic Violence Defense

Definitions of Assault and Battery

In California, domestic assault and domestic violence are taken very seriously by the legal system. To understand these charges, it’s important to first grasp the definitions of assault and battery:

  • Assault: As defined by California Penal Code Section 240, assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with the present ability, to inflict a violent injury on another person. No physical contact is required for an assault charge—just the attempt and capability to cause harm.
  • Battery: According to California Penal Code Section 242, battery involves the willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. Battery requires actual physical contact, whether or not it results in injury.

When these acts occur between individuals who share a close relationship, such as spouses, cohabitants, or dating partners, they fall under the category of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Charges and Penalties

Domestic violence charges in California can range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the severity of the incident and any prior history of violence. Key statutes include:

  • Penal Code Section 243(e)(1): Domestic battery, a misdemeanor that involves any willful and unlawful touching that is harmful or offensive. Penalties can include up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Penal Code Section 273.5: Inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. This charge applies when the injury results in a traumatic condition. Felony penalties can include two, three, or four years in state prison.

Protective Orders and Stay-Away Orders

In domestic violence cases, the court often issues protective orders to safeguard the alleged victim. These can include:

  • Emergency Protective Orders (EPO): Issued immediately by law enforcement to provide short-term protection until a court hearing.
  • Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO): Provide protection until the court can hold a full hearing, typically lasting a few weeks.
  • Permanent Restraining Orders: Issued after a court hearing, these can last up to five years and include various restrictions on the defendant’s actions.
  • Stay-Away Orders: These orders mandate that the defendant must maintain a certain distance from the victim, their home, workplace, or school.

Restrictions on Gun Ownership

Under California law, individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. This ban can be permanent or last for a specified duration, depending on the case.

Possible Jail Time and Required Programs

Convictions for domestic violence can result in significant jail time. For misdemeanors, this might mean up to one year in county jail, while felonies can lead to several years in state prison. Besides incarceration, courts often mandate participation in batterer intervention programs. These programs typically involve:

  • Counseling Sessions: Aimed at addressing and modifying abusive behavior.
  • Anger Management Classes: Helping offenders control their anger and learn non-violent conflict resolution.
  • Substance Abuse Treatment: If applicable, addressing any contributing substance abuse issues.

Choosing the Right Lawyer

Facing domestic violence charges necessitates hiring a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney. Key qualities to look for include:

  • Specialization in Domestic Violence Cases: An attorney with expertise in domestic violence law will be well-versed in the specific challenges and defenses applicable to these cases.
  • Strong Track Record: Look for a lawyer with a history of achieving favorable outcomes in similar cases.
  • Negotiation Skills: Effective negotiation can result in reduced charges or alternative sentencing options.
  • Compassion and Empathy: Dealing with domestic violence charges is stressful, so a lawyer who shows genuine concern for your well-being can make a significant difference.
  • Communication and Availability: Your attorney should keep you informed about your case’s progress and be readily available to address your concerns.


Domestic assault and domestic violence charges in California carry serious legal consequences, including jail time, fines, and mandatory participation in intervention programs. The imposition of protective and stay-away orders, as well as restrictions on gun ownership, further complicate these cases. Hiring a specialized and experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential to navigating these complexities, protecting your rights, and striving for the best possible outcome in your case.