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san diego Domestic Violence defense attorney

What You Should Know About Domestic Violence Charges  |  Zentz & Zentz

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Domestic Violence Lawyers in San Diego

Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects thousands of families throughout California each year. In San Diego County alone, almost 18,000 domestic violence occurrences are reported to police annually. Everyone should have the right to feel safe in their own home, and everyone experiencing abuse has the right to report it to law enforcement. However, domestic violence is a complex issue for everyone involved, and there are incidents of individuals being arrested or convicted without cause, sufficient evidence or due process. If you have been served with a San Diego restraining order, contact an experienced defense attorney who will help you ensure that your legal rights are protected.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence consists of many different forms of abuse and has varying definitions. Understanding what constitutes domestic violence can help you recognize the signs and take action if necessary. Generally, domestic violence is defined as abusive behavior in any relationship used to maintain control over another individual. Many definitions state that acts of domestic violence are limited to intimate partner relationships.

Contrary to popular belief, anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse. No matter your sex, age, race, marital status or education level, you can experience domestic abuse. In many instances, domestic violence takes the form of physical violence toward an intimate partner. Acts such as coercion, threats and intimidation are also considered acts of domestic abuse. California Family Code Section 6211 states that an individual can be charged and convicted of domestic violence if he or she abuses one or more of the following:
• A current or former spouse
• A current or former domestic partner
• A current or former romantic partner
• A current or former roommate

Some courts may also classify abuse against children or the elderly as domestic violence.

Types of Domestic Violence

There are many different types of domestic violence and it is vital to recognize the many forms it can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is one of the most common forms of domestic violence and can include any physically violent acts such as hitting, pinching, slapping, biting, battering or shoving. Denying someone medical treatment or forcing them to ingest a harmful substance can also be classified as physical abuse.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is also a common form of domestic violence and occurs when an abuser coerces or tries to force a victim into performing a sexual act. However, sexual abuse does not necessarily involve physical activity and can occur when an abuser demeans or otherwise sexually threatens the victim.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse can take many forms but often includes criticism, name-calling or otherwise injuring a victim’s self-worth or self-esteem through harmful language or action.

Financial abuse

Financial abuse occurs when an abuser seeks to maintain control over the victim by withholding access to funds or prohibiting activities that promote economic independence, such as seeking employment or attending school.


While not commonly considered an act of domestic violence, stalking is becoming increasingly common in intimate partner relationships. Stalking can take many forms but can occur when an abuser continually follows a victim, makes repeated unwanted contact or makes threats.

This is not a comprehensive list of all types of domestic abuse. Other forms include phycological abuse, cyberstalking and threatening behavior. Any act that is aggressive or emotionally damaging can be interrupted as domestic violence in a court of law.

What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?

Penal Code 273.5 is a California domestic violence law. Depending on the defendant’s criminal record and the crime circumstances, the offense can be tried as a felony or misdemeanor. If the act is tried in court as a misdemeanor offense, the possible punishments include up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 or a combination of both. If the act is tried as a felony, the punishments are more severe and may include up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $6,000 or both. Deportation or other immigration consequences may also occur upon conviction if a defendant is not a United States citizen.

California Penal Code 243 is a domestic violence law in which a defendant can only be convicted of a misdemeanor offense. The punishments include a maximum of one year in county jail or a fine of $2,000 if convicted. Occasionally, domestic violence acts tried under Penal Code 243 are reduced to a lesser charge of Disturbing the Peace. The conviction comes with a maximum term of three months in jail if the charge is reduced.

A victim may request a San Diego restraining order depending on the circumstances surrounding the abuse. A restraining order is an order granted by a judge to protect a victim from further abuse. Restraining orders forbid an abuser from contacting, visiting or otherwise communicating with the victim. Specific regulations are decided by the judge upon issuance but may keep an abuser from coming to a victim’s home or workplace. A restraining order is issued in civil court and does not initiate criminal charges against the abuser.

Any victim, regardless of age, can request a restraining order from any individual who has committed an act of domestic violence against them. The length and terms of the restraining order will vary depending on the circumstance of the abuse and the abuser’s criminal history.

Contact Zentz & Zentz Attorneys at Law Today

Domestic violence is damaging, sometimes life-threatening, and should be taken seriously by all parties involved. In some cases, the abuse may have been an act of self-defense, unintentional or in defense of someone else. Contact Zentz & Zentz today for assistance if you face a domestic violence charge or are otherwise involved in a domestic dispute. Our legal team is experienced, knowledgeable and committed to ensuring all clients are defended adequately before and after trial. Call us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers if you have been accused of domestic violence against an intimate partner, elder or child in San Diego.

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