A domestic violence charge can be a very serious criminal charge to have on one’s record. Here is everything you need to know about whether a domestic violence charge can be expunged in California.
What is Considered Domestic Violence in California?
Domestic violence in California is denoted under California Penal Code 13700b.
California Penal Code 13700b states that domestic violence is defined as a partner abusing their partner.
According to CPC 13700, a partner is considered:
- A spouse (whether they be an adult or minor)
- A former spouse or fiance
- Cohabitant (two adults unrelated and live together). Cohabitation can be signified by a more permanent living situation. This can include a shared income, joint owning of property, or engaging in sexual relations while living in the same quarters
- Former cohabitant
- A current or former individual that a suspect is dating
- An individual with whom the suspect has a child, or is expecting a child with
What is the Penalty for Domestic Violence
In California, domestic violence can be charged with more than one penal code.
Under what legal codes can domestic violence be charged?
- Penal Code 273.5 states that corporal injury is a felony.
The penalty for this felony depending on severity can range from 4 years of imprisonment at a state prison to 1-year county jail imprisonment
- Penal Code 243(e)(1) states that corporal injury is a felony domestic battery due to the infliction of force or violence on a partner. Domestic battery is considered a misdemeanor, and first-time offenders may receive a penalty of up to one year in county jail and can be fined up to $2,000.
- Penal Code 368 criminalizes elder abuse (65 years and older). As a misdemeanor, the penalty warrants up to 1 year in jail. If it is a felony, it may warrant up to 4 years in state prison.
Codes Regarding Children
- Penal Code 273d criminalizes the infliction of corporal punishment or injury on a child. The penalty can be from one year in county jail to 3 years in state prison depending on severity.
- Penal Code 273a criminalizes child endangerment.
What are the consequences of having a domestic violence charge in California?
Domestic violence is taken very seriously in California. Other than possible jail time, other penalties can be associated with a domestic violence charge. On the less permanent side, there are fines, required attendance of domestic abuse programs, restraining orders, and anger management classes. On the more lasting side, those who have a domestic violence charge may have a harder time getting employed, finding housing, getting loans, and licensing.
How to Expunge a Domestic Violence Charge in California
It is important to note that it is much harder for felonies and/or repeat offenses to be expunged. Most severe crimes, such as rape and crimes against children, are almost impossible to expunge.
On the other hand, it is possible to expunge misdemeanors. Expungements are reserved for less severe charges that are greatly preventing an individual from securing any type of employment.
The expungement process for domestic violence charges in California is as follows:
- The defendant must file and pay the filing fee for California Penal Code Section 1203.4 PC.
- Next, the defendant will appear in front of the judge who oversaw the original domestic violence charge.
- The defense will argue why the expungement should be granted. The prosecution can also file a motion against the defendant.
- It is then up to the judge to make the final decision on whether expungement should be granted.
What Happens After
Even after expungement, there will still be some restrictions. The two main effects after the expungement are the ban on possessing firearms for 10 years and the consequences for non-US citizens. If they are facing removal from the country due to domestic violence, then the expungement from their record will not aid them in their defense.