Legally, like other battery charges, so-called domestic battery, which may be referred to as domestic assault, is a misdemeanor offense in California, assuming of course there are no other aggravating circumstances.
However, this does not make domestic battery a minor offense by any stretch of the imagination. Even someone who otherwise has a clean criminal history should take a charge of domestic battery very seriously.
While such accusations often arise out of very stressful family situations that can happen to anyone, a conviction can, at best, cause serious inconvenience and can mar a person’s professional and personal reputation permanently.
At worst, a conviction can cost a person $2,000 in fines, restitution and other expenses. A Newport Beach resident can also wind up spending one year in the country jail. In fact, whenever a person manages to avoid a jail sentence, he or she must complete an approved counseling program at his or her own expense.
Moreover, convictions for domestic assault can have far-reaching collateral consequences as well. For instance, a conviction related to domestic violence can make it hard for a parent to have custody over or even unsupervised parenting time with his or her children.
Other consequences for even a single domestic assault conviction can include not being able to work in certain professions, not being able to own a firearm and, potentially, consequences related to one’s immigration status.
The bottom line is that a person accused of battering his or her spouse or significant other should strongly consider mounting a vigorous criminal defense to these charges. Often, these charges are based on the word of the victim alone. The accused will therefore want to be able at least to tell his or her side of the story if there is a dispute.