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Orange County Bar Association

Domestic Violence Penalties

Penalties for Violation of Penal Code Section 273.5 and 243(e)(1)

Domestic violence cases can be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor. In California felony domestic violence convictions can result in incarceration.

Felonies: Penal Code Section 273.5 can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) can only be filed as misdemeanor. The cases with more serious injuries may result in a felony filing. If an individual pleads guilty to a felony their maximum incarceration may be four years of prison. However, it is rare that an individual has the maximum prison sentence imposed. Generally, a felony domestic violence charge against an individual with no prior record results in 6 months or less of incarceration time. Naturally, if the injury to the victim is serious or life threatening the amount of prison/jail time will rise.  Also, the Defendant must still complete a 52-week batterers class and 8 hours of community service as well as pay fines and make “donations” to a women’s domestic abuse shelter. These terms of probation can not be waived unless the Defendant pleads guilty to a non-domestic violence charge.

Misdemeanors: The maximum jail sentence for a 273.5 or 243(e) (1) charged as a misdemeanor is 1 year. In addition, if the Defendant pleads guilty to either of these charges a 52 week batterers class and 8 hours of community service is also required in addition to fines and “donations” to women’s domestic abuse shelter. These terms cannot be waived unless the Defendant pleads guilty to a non-domestic violence charge. It is much easier to negotiate a plea to a non-domestic violence charge like Disturbing the Peace (Penal Code Section 415) when the case starts as a misdemeanor because it usually means that the case is less serious and there is little or no injury.

Also, a knowledgeable attorney can sometimes contact the District Attorney prior to the first court date and negotiate a non-filing where the District Attorney decides to not file the case based on a defense or significant new facts brought forward by the Defense Attorney.  It is often easier to prevent the case from getting filed (which means the case is over and the Defendant never has to go to court) then it is to get it dismissed after it is already in court. This is because a non-filing means the District Attorney must do much less explaining to higher-ups.  Attorney William W. Bruzzo has been very successful in convincing District Attorneys not to file cases thereby keeping his client from having to attend court and avoiding a conviction.

Note: The Prosecutor will decide what sort of domestic violence charge to file depending on whether there is a visible injury. If there is a visible injury, referred to as a “traumatic condition”, the client will be charged with a violation of Penal Code section 273.5(a). Strangulation can be charged under this section even if no injury is visible. If there is an allegation of domestic violence without a visible injury, it will be charged as a Penal Code Section 243(e)(1).

Contact Orange County Domestic Violence Attorney William W. Bruzzo in Orange County, California for more information regarding Domestic Violence Penalties (714) 547-4636. Mr. Bruzzo is very experienced in domestic violence defense and has been successful in many domestic violence cases.

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