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Who can be Considered a Victim of Domestic Violence?

If you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence, it may come as a surprise to you – especially if you are unmarried. Is a physical altercation with a girlfriend, domestic partner, or roommate considered domestic violence? What about an ex-girlfriend or an ex-boyfriend?

In January 2014, California Assembly Bill 16 went into effect. This bill amended Penal Code Section 273.5 and expanded the definition of who can be considered a victim of domestic violence. In the past, domestic violence was considered any corporal injury to a spouse, cohabitant, or co-parent. Now, former fiancés, fiancés, and current or former dating partners can also be considered a victim of domestic violence under the expanded law.

If you are charged with domestic violence – it is considered a wobbler offense. This means that the prosecution can decide to charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident and the level of injury inflicted. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you could face up to 1 year in county jail and fines up to $6000. If you are charged with a felony, you face up to 4 years in state prison and fines up to $6000. If this is not your first offense, you could face an even longer sentence and enhanced penalties.

Unfortunately, broadening the law to include former dating partners may have far-reaching consequences and result in more incidents of false accusations of domestic violence. After all, former dating partners often do not like each other and may harbor ill will towards their ex. They may bring charges of domestic violence against their ex out of spite, malice, or jealousy. When this occurs, it is critical that you seek legal representation immediately and begin building a solid defense against these serious charges.

Call us at (510) 907-660 if you need counsel. Attorney Ahmed is ready to help.

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