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Domestic Violence Lawyers in Vista


Defense for People Facing Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence charges involve violence between individuals living in the same household or those in a dating relationship. Victims of domestic violence can be a wife/husband, girlfriend/boyfriend, child, or another member of the household.

If you are facing domestic violence charges, Attorney James N. Dicks of jD LAW is ready to provide aggressive, effective representation. He is a former police officer and a board certified criminal law expert who possesses a wealth of experience and legal knowledge. He knows the inner workings of the criminal justice system and can leverage this knowledge to your advantage. To schedule a free case evaluation, call (760) 630-2000 today.

How Domestic Violence Is Defined in California

According to California Penal Code 13700, domestic violence is the act of abusing an intimate partner or family member, as well as threatening abuse. In domestic violence cases, there are several key elements that a Vista district attorney must prove in order to secure a conviction.

First, the victim must be an intimate partner or family member of the accused, which can include:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Current or former romantic or sexual partners
  • Current or former cohabitants
  • Children

“Cohabitants” are legally considered more than roommates and can refer to anyone who lives with the accused and has a romantic or sexual relationship.

In addition to defining the relationship between the accused and the victim, the district attorney must also prove that the accused’s actions constitute “abuse.” Abuse refers any intentional or reckless action that causes the victim to suffer a physical injury, such as hitting, shoving, slapping, or strangling. It also refers to the threat of physical violence. This means that a defendant can be charged with domestic violence without laying a finger on the victim.

Domestic violence is also an intent crime, meaning the district attorney must demonstrate that a defendant intended to harm the victim or make the victim believe the defendant would harm them.

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Domestic Violence Charges in Vista

Based on California’s definition of domestic violence, there are several different charges you can face, including:

  • Corporal InjuryPenal Code 273.5: If a defendant is accused of physically harming a current or former spouse or intimate partner, then they can be charged with Corporal Injury of a Spouse, which is a felony offense in California. This charge requires that the victim has suffered a physical injury.
  • Domestic BatteryPenal Code 243(e)(1): Battery is defined as the willful use of force or violence. When applied to cases involving a current or former partner, domestic battery can elevate a traditional battery charge from six months in jail to one year in jail. Unlike corporal injury, this charge does not require a physical injury, and a defendant can be charged for simply the use of force, such as shoving, against a current or former partner.
  • Child AbusePenal Code 273d: Any act that involves the willing use of cruel or inhumane corporal punishment or injury to a child by their parent can lead to a child abuse charge, which is a felony.
  • Child EndangermentPenal Code 273a: Alongside child abuse, child endangerment includes willingly putting a child in danger of suffering harm or death, or causing or permitting a child to suffer physical harm or mental suffering. This can include allowing another individual to harm a child while in the defendant’s care.

Domestic violence charges can also overlap with several other charges, including:

If you are being accused of domestic violence by a current or former partner, you need to immediately build a strong legal defense. Accusations can impact your reputation, career, and relationships with friends and family, in addition to the serious penalties you face.

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Penalties for Domestic Violence

Domestic violence charges can lead to severe penalties if convicted, but the specific penalties will vary depending on what you are being charged with. In most cases, domestic violence charges are wobblers, meaning you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony. However, some charges are always considered felonies. Even if you believe that the charges are minor, you could still be looking at consequences that can affect you for the rest of your life. This is especially true if you are not a United States citizen and are in the country as a permanent resident, on work visa, or as a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

For the most common domestic violence charges, the penalties include:

Corporal Injury Against a Spouse: This is a felony charge that can result in two, three, or four years in state prison, a domestic violence restraining order, and/or a fine of up to $6,000.

Domestic Battery: This is an elevation of simple battery and is filed as a misdemeanor. If convicted, you can face up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $2,000, a domestic violence restraining order, and/ or probation. If offered probation, you will be required to attend a domestic violence class or equivalent counseling.

Child Abuse: This is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor child abuse can lead to up to six months in county jail and/or a $6,000 fine. With felony charges, a first-time offender can face up to two, four, or six years in state prison and/or a $6,000 fine. If you have a prior charge, you can receive an additional four years. Probation is a possibility for first-time offenders, but it does require a 36-month minimum, a restraining order, and completion of a child abuser’s treatment counseling program.

Child Endangerment: Child endangerment is a wobbler that can be charged as a felony if the victim was put at risk of suffering “great bodily injury” or death. For a misdemeanor, a conviction can result in up to one year in county jail and/or a $1,000 fine. As a felony, child endangerment can lead to up to two, four, or six years in state prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

These charges are also considered Crimes of Moral Turpitude (CMT), which can result in deportation for non-U.S. citizens.

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Defenses Against Domestic Violence

An accusation of domestic violence may be defeated with a detailed defense strategy, which may put forth:

  • The victim’s injuries were the result of an accident.
  • The victim’s injuries were self-inflicted or not the result of the defendant’s actions.
  • The defendant was defending him/herself or someone else.
  • The accusations are false and are the result of jealousy, anger, or a messy divorce or custody battle.
  • The victim’s testimony is inconsistent and not backed up by strong evidence.

If may be in your best interests to accept a potential plea bargain for lesser charges, such as criminal threats or trespassing.

For first-time offenders, it may be possible to receive probation if the victim’s injuries are considered minor. But this will require a top-tier trial attorney. At jD LAW, our lead attorney is a former LAPD investigator who has spent more than 30 years defending clients in the California criminal justice system. He understands how intricate these laws can be and can craft a strong defense strategy to have your charges reduced or dropped.

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Request a Free Consultation: (760) 630-2000

The team at jD LAW has handled a diverse range of domestic violence charges. We know that there are always two sides to every story. A domestic violence charge can result from a misunderstanding, a mistake during a heated exchange, or even be the result of a false accusation. Our goal is to thoroughly investigate the details of the charges and get to the bottom of the situation. Schedule an appointment and discuss your case with our Vista criminal attorney.

Conveniently located across the North County Courthouse in Vista, we welcome clients from all across Vista and surrounding areas.

Get started by requesting a free consultation online or Call (760) 630-2000.

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A note from James N. Dicks:

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.

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