The Basics: Domestic Violence Series Part 1
This five part blog series will cover domestic violence. The first post discusses the formation of the Placer County Domestic Violence Court and the Family Violence Unit of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office. It also outlines the most common domestic violence offenses.
Placer County Family Criminal Court
To respond to escalating incidences of domestic violence within the county and to increase batterer accountability and victim safety, Placer County created the Domestic Violence Court in 2005. One judge, Judge Kearney, is assigned specifically to this court. Additionally, the Placer County District Attorney’s Office created the Family Violence Unit composed of five deputy district attorneys that prosecute only spousal, child and elder abuse cases for the county. This means that the judge and the practitioners assigned to handle cases within the Domestic Violence Court are highly specialized, experienced and skilled at handling these cases. If you face domestic violence charges in Placer County, you should hire an equally experienced attorney.
Typical Domestic Violence Charges
Penal Code Section 273.5 and Penal Code Section 243 are the two crimes that prosecutors most commonly charge in domestic violence cases.
Penal Code Section 273.5
Penal Code Section 273.5 is the crime of inflicting corporal injury upon a spouse, cohabitant or co-parent. To obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must show: (1) the person willfully inflicted a physical injury on his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of his or her children; and (2) the injury inflicted is a traumatic condition.
This crime differs from simple battery in that it requires a “traumatic condition” to occur. This is defined as a wound or injury, whether minor or serious, that is caused by physical force. California courts have found bruising and other physical injuries to satisfy “traumatic condition” while soreness and tenderness without any physical injuries do not. Penal Code Section 273.5 is a “wobbler” meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
Penal Code Section 243(e)
Penal Code Section 243(e) prohibits the commission of a battery against a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, co-parent, fiance’, or a person with whom the defendant has or previously had a dating or engagement relationship. If no physical injury results from the contact, the prosecutor will likely charge this crime. Note that this section allows the prosecutor to charge battery when it is inflicted in a dating relationship, while Penal Code Section 273.5 does not.
Other Frequent Domestic Violence Related Crimes and Enhancements
Battery - Penal Code Section 242
Stalking – Penal Code Section 646.9
Criminal threats – Penal Code Section 422
False imprisonment – Penal Code Section 236
Threats because of prosecution assistance – Penal Code Section 140
Violation of a criminal protective order – Penal Code Section 136.1
2 year enhancement for re-offending while on release – Penal Code Section 12022.1(b)
~Dan Koukol, Placer County Criminal Defense Attorney