Defending Against California Felony Domestic Violence Charges

A mock law book on domestic violence next to Lady Justice.

California domestic violence offenses include many different types of offenses.  Some charges are misdemeanors, and others are felonies.  While both types are extremely serious, felony charges have more severe potential consequences.  Defending against California felony domestic violence charges requires assistance from a skillful criminal defense attorney who knows how to navigate the complexities of domestic violence laws.

Misdemeanor and Felony Domestic Violence Charges in California

Misdemeanors are lesser charges, but they can still result in a large fine and a sentence of up to a year in County Jail.  Conviction of a misdemeanor may have other consequences as well. 

Felony charges are more significant.  A conviction can result in a prison sentence, substantial fines, and other serious consequences, such as:

  • Payment of restitution to the victim
  • Mandatory counseling for fifty-two weeks
  • Loss of gun rights, child custody rights, and voting rights
  • Limitations on employment and housing opportunities
  • Immigration implications for non-citizens

For some domestic violence cases, the prosecutor determines whether to pursue the offense as a misdemeanor or a felony charge.  These offenses sometimes are called “wobblers,” because the charges can go either way. 

What Determines Whether a California Domestic Violence Charge Is a Felony?

When a person makes claims of domestic violence, the prosecutor reviews the facts and circumstances of the case to determine the level of charges to file.  Several factors enter into the decision.  They include:

  • Circumstances of the incident
  • Nature of the injuries suffered by the alleged victim
  • Whether a weapon was used
  • Defendant’s prior criminal record, particularly if there are prior domestic violence offenses

Even if the prosecutor decides to pursue felony charges, there may be an opportunity to negotiate a plea to a misdemeanor.  If a case goes to trial, the judge also has authority to reduce the level of the offense at sentencing under certain circumstances.  It is therefore extremely important to have an aggressive domestic violence attorney represent you from the very beginning of your case.

Developing a Defense Strategy For California Felony Domestic Violence Charges

As soon as you think a domestic violence charge might be filed against you, talk with an attorney.  Your lawyer can advise you about your legal rights through every stage of the criminal process and investigate all of your potential defenses.

Depending on the circumstances, possible defenses to a domestic violence charge may include showing that the situation involves:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of another individual
  • Injuries inflicted on the defendant by the alleged victim
  • Any prior false accusations by the alleged victim
  • Injuries not caused by the defendant

Your attorney will review all the evidence obtained by law enforcement and may collect additional evidence.  Your lawyer may also hire an investigator to investigate your case and any possible defenses. In some cases, if your lawyer becomes involved early in the process, it may be possible to convince the prosecutor not to pursue the case at all or to file it as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a San Mateo Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

San Mateo criminal defense attorney Jessica Agnich is a criminal law specialist certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.  Jessica’s experience defending clients against criminal charges spans more than a decade.  She represents clients in a full range of types of offenses, including domestic violence.

Regardless of whether your case involves misdemeanor or felony domestic violence charges, Jessica will aggressively defend you against the charges.  She does not hesitate to take a case to trial in appropriate circumstances and has successfully won acquittals in domestic violence jury trials.

Located in Redwood City, the Law Office of Jessica Agnich serves clients throughout San Mateo County.  Jessica also handles select matters elsewhere in the Bay Area and Northern California. 

Your initial consultation is free.  To speak with Jessica about your case, call 650.260.4105 or email jla@agnichlaw.com.

Publication date: April 11th, 2019