Being accused of a violent crime in California is never a good thing. The potential consequences of conviction for a crime of violence are serious and can alter the trajectory of one's life forever. However, being charged with a domestic violence crime can create other problems as well. Because of the nature of these offenses, both the judicial system and society are more likely to take a dim view of an alleged perpetrator due to the perception that the people involved are especially vulnerable.
But what constitutes domestic violence in California? Basically, whether a certain criminal charge is considered domestic violence will depend on the relationship between the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim. A domestic violence offense will generally be charged when a criminal act is perpetrated against someone who is a spouse or ex-spouse. Further, a domestic violence charge may lodge against people who are cohabitating, or when the victim is the parent of the perpetrator's child, or the two are in a dating relationship.
Being accused of domestic violence can affect an individual in many ways. First, depending on the severity of the charges, the alleged perpetrator can be facing significant jail or prison time. Further, there can be a restraining order instituted that will prevent the individual from coming back to his or her home, or seeing his or her children or significant other. Finally, there is the social stigma attached to such a charge and the potential loss of employment or other means of financial support.
It should be remembered that even those charged with domestic violence are innocent until proven guilty. Domestic relationships can be very complicated, and it is not always clear who began an altercation, or if such a charge is being used as leverage in a civil action, such as a divorce. Californians who find themselves charged with domestic assault may therefore wish to consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney to help them decide a best course of action.