Domestic Violence

Every domestic dispute case is unique. Therefore, the consequences of a domestic violence offense depend upon a variety of factors. Many offenses could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, which would result in different penalties. Determination is based on the circumstances of the situation, whether any injuries occurred, the seriousness of incurred injuries and the defendant’s prior offenses.

When law enforcement is called for a domestic dispute, under California law, they must arrest someone if they find probable cause that an altercation has occurred. There are multiple forms of domestic violence offenses a defendant could be charged with, including domestic battery, stalking or harassment. Depending on the charge, a conviction could result in these penalties:

  • Fines
  • Time in jail
  • Completion of a domestic abuse treatment program
  • Community service
  • Payments to a domestic violence program
  • Restitution payments to the alleged victim

A domestic violence charge could also negatively affect your everyday way of life in other ways. Other implications include:

Your right to own a weapon. Current law requires a convicted defendant to surrender their weapons for up to 10 years. However, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a law that will keep certain defendants from ever possessing a firearm. Going into effect on January 1, 2019, certain domestic violence misdemeanors could result in losing your right to own or possess a weapon forever.

Loss of child custody rights. California considers domestic violence charges when granting child custody. In most cases, a defendant convicted of domestic violence will lose sole or joint custody rights and receive visitation rights only. However, because the court takes into account the best interest of the child, if custody to the other party is a worse option, the court may allow the defendant to keep custody rights.

Sex offender registration. Some stalking charges could result in the defendant being required to register as a sex offender. Being registered as a sex offender would cause serious limitations on your life including limitations on where you work and live.

Employment. A domestic violence charge could seriously affect your employment. If you work in a public service industry such as teaching or nursing, you could lose your job. Military professionals could lose their right to possess a weapon too. California state law affects military personnel and law enforcement officers. If applying for jobs, your conviction could come up during an employment background check and make it more difficult for you to get a job.

Need an Alameda County Domestic Violence Defense Attorney?

The Law Office of Louis J. Goodman understands the serious consequences a domestic violence allegation can have on your life. If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Alameda County, I recommend that you remain silent and contact a domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible. California’s domestic violence laws are complicated. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights under the law as well as how the law could affect your case.

Having an experienced attorney on your side could help you negotiate a more favorable outcome. For example, if your domestic violence offense is being charged as a felony, a defense attorney could help reduce your charge to a misdemeanor. Call (510) 582-9090 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

When one thinks of domestic violence, commonly, that violence occurs between either spouses, significant others or family members. But when an assault or battery occurs between two roommates, does this count as domestic violence?

The short answer – no, not typically. And here’s why.

Domestic Violence Laws in California

California’s domestic violence statutes are defined most by penal codes 273.5 and 243(e)(1), which only cover physical attacks against certain people, including:

  • Spouses, whether current or former
  • Fiancés or former fiancés
  • Co-parents of children
  • Current or past romantic partners
  • Cohabitants or former cohabitants

It may seem like roommates are covered under this law – roommates are cohabitants, after all. However, courts have consistently held that the California domestic violence codes only apply to cohabitants that have been involved in some type of romantic or sexual relationship.

To quote one California appellate court:

The term cohabitant “requires something more than a platonic, rooming-house arrangement.” It “has been interpreted ‘broadly’ to refer to those ‘ “living together in a substantial relationship — one manifested, minimally, by permanence and sexual or amorous intimacy.”  – People v. Holifield, 205 Cal.App.3d 993 (1998)

So, if you are accused of battery by a roommate, then you should make it clear to your attorney that you were never involved in any intimate relationship with your roommate. This won’t protect you from battery claims, but it can eliminate any doubt as to whether domestic violence has occurred.

What Do I Do If I Have Been Accused of Battery by a Roommate in California?

Battery accusations can lead to serious penalties, including jail time and expensive fines. You need to speak to a criminal defense attorney to preserve your rights if you have been accused of battery, whether domestic or otherwise. Call us for a free consultation at (510) 582-9090.