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An arrest for domestic abuse in California is a serious matter. It could affect your chances of obtaining employment, prevent you from purchasing a fire arm and you could face jail time, fines, attendance of a batter's counseling program and/or a drug or alcohol program, paying restitution payments and probation depending on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Under California Penal Code Statutes 13700, an act of domestic abuse is considered abusing someone you have a "domestic" relationship, which includes the following persons:

· Spouse or former spouse or cohabitant
· Roommate or former roommate
· Person you may be dating or previously dated
· Parent of your child
· Family members including parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and first cousins

The definition of abuse is considered the intentional or reckless causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, sexual assault, or placing a person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Many times, victims take out a restraining order against their abuser. The restraining order may be enforced by California police, who are authorized to arrest violators of domestic restraining orders under California Penal Code Section 836. The district attorney's office determines whether the charges to be filed will be a misdemeanor domestic abuse or a felony domestic abuse based upon the circumstances of the case. If the victim suffered minor injuries or threats, then the charges will most likely be a misdemeanor charge. However, if the victim suffered serious injuries, felony charges will be filed. It is not unusual to charge both parties if there are no witnesses and both claim abuse occurred or the police find cuts and bruises on both parties.


You could face the following penalties if you are arrested for domestic abuse in California:
· For a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge, you face fines and up to six months jail time as well as attendance of a domestic violence counseling program and 40 hours of community service and probation.
· For a felony domestic abuse charge, you face fines and jail time ranging from three months to three years, as well as attendance of a domestic violence counseling class and 40 hours community service and probation.
In addition, if drugs or alcohol are involved, you may be required to attend an AA or NA program under California Penal Code Section 1203.097 and pay restitution to the victim and payments to a women's shelter in the maximum sum of $5,000.

Help for Victims

The Governor signed a budget package on October 8, 2010, which included $20.4 million dollars to be allocated for statewide domestic violence shelter services that will be administered through the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA). This action now returns critical funding that was eliminated under a line item veto in July 2009.

Case Example

Former Chargers star linebacker Junior Seau was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his 25 year old live in girlfriend during an argument, which occurred at their Oceanside beachfront home on Sunday evening October 17, 2010. Oceanside police said the woman suffered minor injuries and did not require medical attention. Seau was released on bail from Vista jail on Monday. He was involved in an accident shortly thereafter as his Cadillac Escalade went over 30 ft. of boulders on an oceanfront cliff in Carlsbad. He was treated for minor injuries caused by the near fatal crash. He told police he fell asleep as he was heading south on Carlsbad Blvd. around 8:42 a.m. Monday. He awoke as the SUV started going over the side. Despite rumors that the accident was an attempted suicide involving the use of drugs or alcohol, Carlsbad police said they did not believe Seau was attempting suicide, and there were no signs of any type of intoxication. The results of a blood test that Seau agreed to take at the hospital will be available in six weeks. The domestic violence case is expected to be sent to the Oceanside District Attorney's office on Friday according to Oceanside police. A tentative arraignment has been scheduled for Monday, October 25, 2010 should prosecutors decide to charge Seau.

If you are arrested in California for domestic abuse, you should hire a California criminal defense attorney. The attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed on the basis of self-defense or a simple misunderstanding or by getting the parties to enter into a civil restraint agreement agreeing to leave each other alone.

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