Each year, over 3 million cases of domestic abuse are being reported -- and that's just for the United States alone. And among those 3 million individuals, 4,000 of them could be killed. Now, being violated and abused by a stranger or a friend is one thing, but being violated and abused by a loved one is another. Indeed, there is nothing more tragic than suffering under the hands of someone you trust. No one can ever understand the feeling of betrayal and pain aside from the victims of domestic abuse themselves. In some extreme cases, unfortunately, the victims do not even realize that they are being violated. Hence, this vicious cycle of manipulation and abuse continues until either one of the involved gives up. Unfortunately, the perpetrators win most of the time, and they walk the streets as a free man.
However, it doesn't always have to end that way. Victims can get the justice they deserve and the law is here to make sure that happens. Every state has its distinct ordinances for domestic violence. But for Californians, Penal Code PC 13700 covers everything they need to know from the legal definition to its penalties. At its core, the statute defines the term “domestic violence” as a willful infliction of or attempt to cause physical injury to a person whom they related to or intimate with. But do not be fixated on the use of the word “physical” in the code, as the lawfully recognizes that abuse takes many forms. A loved one or a relative may psychologically, verbally, and emotionally torment you without laying a finger on you, and it will still be counted as domestic abuse. Ultimately, the law maintains that no one should impede another person's basic human rights, no matter their relationship with that individual.
Speaking of, PC 13700 also sets the standards of when abuse is considered domestic or not. It is domestic violence if the person is being threatened or harmed by:
- Your live-in partner (someone whom you have sexual relations with or share income or expenses without necessarily being engaged or married);
- Your girlfriend/boyfriend;
- A member of your intermediate family;
- The father or mother of your child (an intimate relationship is not necessary);
- Your spouse; and/or
- Your ex-partner, ex-wife, ex-husband, or anyone who you previously had an intimate relationship with.
Now, there are other statutes that include the topic of domestic abuse, such as California Penal Code PC 273(a), otherwise known as Child Abuse Law. Under this statute, a person who willfully exposes a child to a dangerous situation where the child's health, mental, and physical well-being will be negatively affected is guilty of a misdemeanor. The punishments of this law may be added on top of the legal consequences imposed upon a convicted domestic abuser.
Punishments for Violating California Penal Code PC 13700
Domestic abuse is a serious crime in California. If found accused of violating the domestic violence laws, the accused may be charged with either felony or misdemeanor. However, the court has the complete jurisdiction to impose any of the following consequences when they deem necessary:
- Have their gun ownership rights extinguished for life;
- A maximum prison sentence of 4 years;
- A year in jail after granting probation;
- Undergo a mandatory domestic violence class;
- For first offenders, a jail sentence of at least 30 days;
- Pay a fee of $500 for state domestic violence programs;
- Settlement to cover the victim's medical bills, psychological counseling, property damages, and loss of past and future salary; and
- A restraining order from the victim
Keep in mind that different laws may overlap with each other. The penalties listed above are not final, as the judge may find the accused guilty on other charges as well.
Legal Guidance in California
Domestic violence is an issue that lurks in every corner of the world. On top of that, anyone can be abused or be the abuser. Your age, gender, religion, or occupation will not make that probability greater or lesser. That is why it is important to know the law and your rights as a person. If you recognize that what is being done to you is a criminal act, then you must find the courage to report your abuser to concerned officials. We understand that it is easier said than done, but knowing is half the battle. The remaining half will be fought by your lawyers.
Likewise, if you have been wrongfully accused of harming your child, spouse, or relative, seek legal assistance from criminal defense attorneys immediately at the Law Office of Raoul Severo.
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