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Charged with Domestic Violence?

Sept. 22, 2021

Often when the police think that some level of domestic violence has occurred in a relationship, they are now obligated to take the person into custody. If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a domestic violence crime pursuant to Penal Code Section 273.5, then please contact domestic violence attorney Ryan Roth at Roth Legal, Professional Law Corporation. Mr. Roth has handled hundreds of domestic violence cases in Northern and Central California.

Domestic Violence Laws

The laws concerning domestic violence have changed significantly, and you must be able to protect your rights through the use of a local domestic violence attorney. Domestic situations are never simple, and oftentimes there are real questions of fact. The police do not have the resources at the time of the incident to figure out who is right or wrong, and almost always someone is going to be taken to jail.

Charged with Domestic Violence

Minor arguments and a slight physical touching are enough for the police and the prosecutor to charge you with a crime. Politicians have been pressured into believing that all incidents of domestic violence are brutal beatings and will result in a murder. That is not the truth. In most cases, tempers flare or alcohol is involved, and even without police intervention, things would have worked themselves out. Sometimes, people lie to the police to get a significant other in trouble. And sometimes the police over-exaggerate in their reports what was said or what happened.

Over many years of criminal law experience, many of the cases I saw involved mutual combat. When the police arrive on the scene, someone is going to jail. There are valid justifications or excuses for many of the actions that occur in a domestic situation. An experienced domestic violence attorney will be able to listen to the facts that you present and will be able to assist you in making sure that your rights and interested are protected. Often, things happen in the heat of passion that at the time look to be dangerous. But, upon closer investigation, the two people truly love each other and wish to put this event behind them. The problem is that once the charges are filed, the victim may not dismiss the charges, and the case will oftentimes proceed even if the victim does not want to prosecute.

Domestic Violence as a Felony or Misdemeanor

In California, the prosecutor may file domestic violence as either a felony or as a misdemeanor. This is called a “wobbler,” since the prosecutor may elect which one to file. The prosecutor has the obligation to review the evidence and decide, based upon the severity of the injuries, if any, what to file. If the injuries are slight or almost non-existent, then usually a misdemeanor charge will be filed. However, if the injuries include broken bones, cuts, or more severe injuries, then a felony charge will almost always be filed.

If the victim sustains great bodily injury, then this crime is a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law. A conviction then will be used to enhance penalties in the future.

The past history of the participants will significantly impact the prosecutor’s decision on whether to file a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a felony domestic violence charge, the court may impose significant jail time. In addition, restitution, fines, and a counseling class will be ordered. In some cases, the court may issue a restraining order, which prohibits you from having any contact with the victim. Contact also includes indirect contact by friends or others who call the victim on your behalf.

An experienced domestic violence lawyer that has significant prior experience can significantly increase the odds of a favorable resolution in these types of charges. In a more serious incident, an attorney may be able to provide facts to the police and prosecutor that may result in the charges being lowered from a felony to a misdemeanor. For less serious incidents that are charged as misdemeanors, a domestic violence attorney can work at keeping you out of jail or having the charges reduced to a simple misdemeanor, an infraction of disturbing the peace, or having the charges dismissed altogether.


  • PC 273.5(a) Corporal Injury to Spouse

  • PC 273.6(a) Disobeying a Domestic Relations Court Order

  • PC 242-243(e)(1) Battery

  • PC 240-241(a) Simple Assault

  • PC 422 Criminal Threats

  • PC 653m(a) Making an Annoying Phone Call

  • PC 136.1(b)(1) Dissuading a Witness from Reporting a Crime

  • PC 591 Damage to a Telephone or Cable Line