California Penal Code Section 273.5: Injury to Spouse / Domestic Violence
California Penal Code section 273.5 criminalizes violence against a spouse, cohabitant, or romantic partner. The statute is used to prosecute alleged perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a very serious crime in California, carrying a mandatory prison sentence and hefty fines. If you have been accused of domestic violence under section 273.5, you should retain a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. It’s important to start building a strong legal defense as soon as possible in order to avoid the worst consequences of a possible conviction.
Elements of a Domestic Violence Charge
To convict a defendant on charges brought under section 273.5, the prosecutor must demonstrate the following:
- The defendant intentionally and unlawfully inflicted physical injury on a person falling into one of four categories
- The physical harm resulted in traumatic injury to the victim
- The defendant was not acting in self-defense
Who Can Be a Victim Under 273.5
Although the crime punished under section 273.5 is often referred to as spousal abuse, the statute’s reach is not limited to violence perpetrated against a married partner. Under the terms of the law, a defendant can be convicted under section 273.5(a) for willful injury committed against any of the following people:
- The defendant’s spouse or former spouse
- The defendant’s cohabitant or former cohabitant
- The defendant’s current or former romantic partner, including their fiancé(e)
- The mother or father of the defendant’s child
The statute can even be used to prosecute a defendant for alleged violence committed against a roommate, without regard to whether they ever had a romantic relationship.
Punishments for Violating 273.5
Section 273.5 makes the commission of domestic violence punishable as a felony. Defendants convicted under section 273.5 can be imprisoned for two, three, or four years, and may be subject to a fine of up to $6,000. Although imprisonment is described in the statute as mandatory for a conviction, section 273.5(h)(5) allows a court not to impose imprisonment upon a showing of good cause. Defendants may be ordered to make a contribution to a battered women’s shelter or to compensate the alleged victim for costs of counseling and other expenses resulting from the crime.
Convicted defendants will also face a restraining order preventing the defendant from having any contact with the victim. The restraining order can be imposed for up to ten years depending on the facts of the case and the severity of the defendant’s conduct.
The Law Offices of John D. Lueck is a trusted Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense law firm with more than 42 years of service to clients in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. These cases are highly sensitive and require experienced representation to ensure your rights are protected. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a crime, contact Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense lawyer John D. Lueck at 909-484-1963 for a free consultation.