Domestic violence charges in California are not defined as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Instead, it is up to the prosecutor to charge it as they see fit based on the facts of the case.
A minor injury may be charged as a misdemeanor or even a felony if the courts wish to demonstrate a zero tolerance stance on domestic violence. As discussed in a previous blog post, a charge falls under domestic violence statutes if there is a relationship of trust and intimacy.
Misdemeanor crimes usually have a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and payment of a fine. Also, many jurisdictions require participation in a domestic violence intervention program, anger management classes, or complete community service.
Felon convictions have similar punishments as misdemeanors; however, the penalties tend to be stiffer. Prison sentences may be longer, fines may be higher, and community service requirements may be longer.
Prosecutors consider several factors to determine the type of charge they wish to pursue in a domestic violence case. They may consider the severity of the injuries, any prior reports or incidents of abuse by the alleged abuser, or whether the defendant has any prior convictions.
If you or someone you know has been accused of domestic violence, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help defend your case or negotiate a plea to minimize charges.