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Spousal Abuse Defense Lawyers in Santa Clarita

Domestic Violence Defense Attorney; Spousal Abuse (California Penal Code Section 273.5 PC)

California Penal Code 273.5 is a penal code section that describes felony domestic violence charges. The crime of domestic violence is also referred to as domestic battery, domestic abuse, spousal abuse or spousal battery. If you have been charged under California Penal Code 273.5, it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, such as Daniel E. Kann and that you are aware of what the prosecution must show in order to obtain a conviction under PC 273.5.

What must the prosecution prove to successfully convict a defendant who is charged under PC 273.5?

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Basically, the prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime:

  1. The defendant willfully inflicted corporal injury on a victim;
  2. The injury was upon someone with whom the defendant had a domestic relationship; and;
  3. The corporal injury resulted in a traumatic condition.1

What is corporal injury?

Corporal injury is the use of violent force upon a victim's body. It is a physical injury to the body that most commonly derives from hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, pushing or biting.

What is willful infliction?

Willful means that the injury inflicted was done deliberately and intentionally, as opposed to accidentally. Willful does not mean that the defendant intended the consequences of her act. The prosecution only has to show that the defendant intended to commit the act that resulted in the injury.

As an example, if the defendant intended to push his spouse away from him and she is injured in the process, the prosecution can show that his actions were willful. If the defendant trips and falls into his spouse and the spouse is injured, the prosecution cannot show the defendant's actions were willful.

What is a domestic relationship?

A domestic relationship means your current or former spouse, a person with whom you currently live or have lived with in the past or it can mean the mother or father of your child.2

What is a traumatic condition?

Penal Code 273.5 defines a "traumatic condition" as "a condition of the body, such as a wound, or external or internal injury, including, but not limited to, injury as result of strangulation or suffocation, whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by physical force."3 Essentially the prosecution will only have to show there is some injury to the body. The injury can be as major as a broken body part or as minor as a scratch, bruise or some swelling or redness that is visible on the victim's body.

Other Penal Codes related to California Penal Code 273.5:

What is the punishment if the prosecutor is able to convict a defendant under PC 273.5?

The punishment a defendant will receive under PC 273.5 depends on whether the prosecution charges the defendant with a misdemeanor or felony.4

Felony Conviction

If convicted under PC 273.5 as a felony, the defendant will face all or any of the following punishments:

  1. State imprisonment for two years, three years or, four years, or
  2. Imprisonment in the county jail for up to a year, or
  3. Fines up to $6,000; or
  4. Both imprisonment and fines.5

If the defendant has a prior conviction under California Penal Code 242 for battery or PC 243.4 for sexual battery, or certain types of assault and that prior conviction is within seven years of the acts resulting in a conviction under PC 273.5, then the defendant is subject to the following:

  1. State imprisonment for two to five years, or
  2. Imprisonment in the county jail for up to a year. Please note that a defendant must serve a minimum of 15 days in county jail if the defendant has one prior conviction or a minimum of 60 days for two prior convictions6, or
  3. Fines up to $10,000; or
  4. Both imprisonment and fines.7

If the defendant has a prior domestic violence conviction under California Penal Code 243(e) (1) and that prior conviction is within seven years of the acts resulting in a conviction under PC 273.5, then the defendant is subject to the following:

  1. State imprisonment for two years, three years, or, four years, or
  2. Imprisonment in the county jail for up to a year. Please note that the defendant must serve a minimum of 15 days in county of jail if the defendant has one prior conviction or a minimum of 60 days for two prior convictions8, or
  3. Fines up to $10,000; or
  4. Both imprisonment and fines.9

In addition to the fines and prison time, the defendant faces all or any of the following probation/parole matters10:

  1. formal probation/parole, for no less than three years,
  2. a restraining order that prohibits defendant's contact with the alleged victim for up to ten years,
  3. a protective order that prohibits further acts of violence, threats, harassment or stalking against the alleged victim,
  4. a successful completion of a minimum of one year's worth of domestic violence classes,
  5. payments to a battered woman's shelter up to $5,000 and/or reimbursement to the alleged victim for medical and/or mental health service the victim reasonably incurred as a result of the crime,
  6. notice to the victim of the disposition of the case,
  7. complete community service as ordered by the court,
  8. undergo any type of counseling services ordered by the court, such as substance abuse classes.

If convicted of a felony the defendant cannot possess guns, vote, serve on a jury or hold a public office.

Misdemeanor Conviction

If the defendant is convicted of PC 273.5 as a misdemeanor he is subject to same fines as a felony conviction, but is only subject to up to one year in county jail. A defendant convicted of a PC 273.5 as a misdemeanor charge will also face the same probation matters as a felony conviction, except that he will only face up to three years of informal or summary probation. It is also important to note that anyone convicted of PC 273.5 as a misdemeanor or any other domestic violence related charge will be banned under California law from owning or possessing a firearm for ten years and for life under federal law.

What are the defenses to California Penal Code 273.5?

An experienced attorney can assist you in mounting an effective defense against the charge of PC 273.5. There are many legal defenses to this charge and below are the most common:

The injuries sustained by the victim were the result of an accident

As indicated previously, an element that the prosecution has to prove is that the defendant's conduct was willful. If the defendant accidentally injures his partner through no willful act of his own, then the accident serves as a defense to the crime of domestic violence.

The victim has falsely accused the Defendant of the crime

It is far too common within domestic disputes that an alleged victim fabricates a charge of domestic violence against their partner in order to punish their partner or to get back at them. If the alleged victim is lying to the cops about being a victim of domestic violence, a thorough examination by the investigators used by the Law of Office of Daniel E. Kann as well an effective cross examination by skilled attorney Daniel E. Kann will expose the alleged victim's lies and serve as a complete defense to the charge.

The defendant acted in self defense

In most domestic disputes, there is a mutual struggle between both parties. If the defendant injures his partner after defending himself against an attack that was initiated by the alleged victim, the defendant may be able to claim self defense under California's self defense laws.

Aggressive and Effective Legal Representation

Whether you or someone you care about is facing charges for domestic violence, it is important to act fast in getting aggressive legal representation that you need and deserve. To learn more about what can be done to defend your rights, contact Daniel E. Kann for a free consultation by calling (888) 744-7730 or just fill out a contact form on this website.


1 California Penal Code Section 273.5 "(a) Any person who willfully inflicts upon a person who is his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of his or her child, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony...."

2 See PC 273.5(a).

3 California Penal Code Section 273.5 (c)

4 California Penal Code Section 273.5 is a wobbler, meaning that the prosecution has the discretion to charge it as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending upon the facts and allegations in the case.

5 See California Penal Code Section 273.5(a). Any person found guilty under PC 273.5 "....is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by both that fine and imprisonment."

6 See California Penal Code Section 273.5(g), which states "[i]f probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of a sentence is suspended, for any defendant convicted under subdivision (a) who has been convicted of any prior offense specified in subdivision (e), the court shall impose one of the following conditions of probation: (1) If the defendant has suffered on prior conviction within the previous seven years for a violation of any offense specified in subdivision (e), it shall be a condition thereof, in addition to the provisions contained in Section 1203.097, that he or she be imprisoned in a county jail for not less than 15 days. (2) If the defendant has suffered two or more prior convictions within the previous seven years for a violation of any offense specified in subdivision (e), it shall be a condition of probation, in addition to the provisions contained in Section 1203.097, that he or she be imprisoned in county jail for not less than 60 days. (3) The court, upon a showing of good cause, may find that the mandatory imprisonment required by this subdivision shall not be imposed and shall state on the record its reasons for finding good cause.

7 See California Penal Code Section 273.5(e)(1), "[a]ny person convicted of a violating this section for acts occurring within seven years of a previous conviction under subdivision (a) or subdivision (d) of Section 243, or Section 243.4, 244, 244.5, or 245, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four or five years, or by both imprisonment and a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000)."

8 See footnote 6 above.

9 See California Penal Code Section 273.5(e)(2), "[a]ny person convicted of a violation of this section for acts occurring within seven years of a previous conviction under subdivision (e) of Section 243 shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or by both that fine and imprisonment."

10 See California Penal Code Section 273.5(f)-(h) for conditions of probation if convicted under PC 273.5 (a). Penal Code 273.5(f)-(h) states, "(f) If probation is granted to any person convicted under subdivision (a), the court shall impose probation consistent with the provisions of Section 1203.097. (g) If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of a sentence is suspended, for any defendant convicted under subdivision (a) who has been convicted of any prior offense specified in subdivision (e), the court shall impose one of the following conditions of probation: (1) If the defendant has suffered on prior conviction within the previous seven years for a violation of any offense specified in subdivision (e), it shall be a condition thereof, in addition to the provisions contained in Section 1203.097, that he or she be imprisoned in a county jail for not less than 15 days. (2) If the defendant has suffered two or more prior convictions within the previous seven years for a violation of any offense specified in subdivision (e), it shall be a condition of probation, in addition to the provisions contained in Section 1203.097, that he or she be imprisoned in county jail for not less than 60 days. (3) The court, upon a showing of good cause, may find that the mandatory imprisonment required by this subdivision shall not be imposed and shall state on the record its reasons for finding good cause. (h)If probation is granted upon conviction of a violation of subdivision (a), the conditions of probation may include, consistent with the terms of probation imposed pursuant to Section 1203.097, in lieu of a fine, one or both of the following requirements: (1) That the defendant make payments to a battered women's shelter, up to a maximum of five thousand dollars ($5,000), pursuant to Section 1203.097. (2) That the defendant reimburse the victim for reasonable costs of counseling and other reasonable expenses that the court finds are the direct result of the defendant's offense. For any order to pay a fine, make payments to a battered women's shelter, or pay restitution as a condition of probation under this subdivision, the court shall make a determination of the defendant's ability to pay. In no event shall any order to make payment to a battered women's shelter be made if it would impair the ability of the defendant to pay direct restitution to the victim or court-ordered child support. Where the injury to a married person is caused in whole or in part by the criminal acts of his or her spouse in violation of this section, the community property may not be used to discharge the liability of the offending spouse for restitution to the injured spouse, required by Section 1203.04, as operative on or before August 2, 1995, or Section 1202.4, or to a shelter for costs with regard to the injured spouse and dependents, required by this section, until all separate property of the offending spouse is exhausted. (i)Upon conviction under subdivision (a), the sentencing court shall also consider issuing an order restraining the defendant from any contact with the victim, which may be valid for up to 10 years, as determined by the court. It is the intent of the Legislature that the length of any restraining order be based upon the seriousness of the facts before the court, the probability of future violations, and the safety of the victim and his or her immediate family. This protective order may be issued by the court whether the defendant is sentenced to state prison, county jail or if imposition of sentence is suspended and the defendant is placed on probation."

Kann California Defense Group

Daniel E. Kann has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to defending individuals facing criminal prosecution in Southern California. Dan fights criminal cases throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

The Law Offices of Daniel E. Kann

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(888) 744-7730