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San Jose criminal defense attorneyAccording to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), an average of 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States every minute. Domestic violence is defined as abuse or threatening abuse between individuals who are or have been in an intimate relationship. This can include married or domestic partners, boyfriends and girlfriends (current or former), a couple who live (or lived) together, or people who have a child together. The victim and the abuser could also be related by blood or by marriage. 

Abuse is not limited to just physical acts. It can also involve verbal, psychological, or emotional behaviors or acts that harm or threaten to harm a victim. It is essential to know what constitutes domestic violence and its penalties in case you are falsely accused of this serious crime.   

Forms of Domestic Abuse

Many people mistakenly think domestic abuse is only hitting a spouse. However, it can take various forms besides just a slap or a punch. Abuse may include kicking, shoving, pulling hair, throwing objects, following, or restraining another person. It can even involve physical abuse of family pets. Other actions that constitute domestic violence include:

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San Jose criminal defense attorneySome marriages may include one spouse who is a U.S. citizen while the other spouse is an immigrant. In some cases, the foreign national may only use the marriage as a means to enter the United States. Unfortunately, this fraudulent union can be a scam, intended to be a way of obtaining a green card and lawful permanent residence status. The foreign spouse may falsely accuse his or her new spouse of domestic abuse, which can lead to a divorce and serious consequences for the alleged abuser. It is important to note that an immigrant who entered the United States on a marriage-based visa can request special status, which would allow him or her to stay in the country even after a divorce or separation. This can be reason enough for him or her to make false claims of abuse in order to get a divorce. 

California Penalties for Domestic Abuse 

Under the California Penal Code, there are several different types of domestic violence. Abuse can be against an intimate partner, or a family or household member. The crimes are categorized differently, depending on the severity of the incident. Below are some of the punishments that can result from such criminal offenses:

  • Corporal injury: This crime can be a slight physical injury to a person and is a felony. The penalty can include up to one year in county jail and up to four years in state prison. 
  • Domestic battery: Inflicting force or violence on an intimate partner is domestic battery. This offense is classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment can include a fine up to $2,000, and/or up to one year in county jail. 
  • Stalking: Harassing or threatening another person to make him or her fear for his or her safety is considered stalking in California. This charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Misdemeanor stalking can result in up to one year in prison while a felony charge can result in three years of incarceration. 

False Accusations

Even if your foreign-born spouse is not a U.S. citizen, he or she is still entitled to certain rights. Some of these rights are similar to what a citizen would have, such as the right to a divorce, temporary restraining order, financial support, and child custody. An alleged victim can petition for legal status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), apply to cancel deportation proceedings under VAWA, and petition for U-nonimmigrant status.

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San Jose domestic abuse defense lawyerAbuse is something that no one should have to experience. It can leave lasting damage, physically, mentally, and emotionally. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, approximately 24 people per minute are victims of physical violence, rape, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. That equates to more than 12 million men and women over a year’s time. The term “domestic abuse” sounds physical, but it actually encompasses a number of different things. In other words, if you have engaged in any of the following forms of abuse, you could face charges related to domestic abuse.

Different Forms of Abuse

There are various forms of abuse that can lead to criminal charges, even if no physical altercations occurred. Before understanding which actions can lead to charges, one should know the different types of abuse, aside from physical abuse, to identify toxic behavior:

  • Sexual Abuse - This form of abuse is often attributed to physical harm in a sexual manner, but there can be non-physical components. Aside from rape and forced sexual acts, this abuse can also include severe criticism or humiliation from a partner based on sexual performance. Tampering with birth control may also be considered sexual abuse.
  • Verbal/Emotional Abuse - Verbal abuse involves the use of words and phrases to control a partner. This may include threats or threats. This type of abuse can be equally harmful as physical abuse even though no physical harm is done. 
  • Psychological Abuse - This is similar to verbal abuse in that it often includes harmful words from one partner to another. Making a partner feel “crazy” is one of the common ways this form of abuse is done. It can undermine the individual’s sense of self and reality.

What Does California Law Say?

In California, there are four definitions for domestic violence, some of which do not require physical harm to occur at all. If you have done any of the following actions, you have subjected your partner to domestic violence:

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San Jose domestic violence defense attorneyIn some divorce cases, the hostility between the spouses can become extreme and lead to domestic violence protective orders against one or both partners. In California, these protections (also referred to as restraining orders) are court orders that protect a person from being physically or sexually abused, stalked, harassed, or threatened.

Under California law, restraining orders can be requested for various reasons. Unfortunately, not all of them are legitimate. For example, a person may falsely accuse his or her spouse of domestic abuse out of anger or revenge. In other situations, a parent may want to prevent the other parent from seeing their children for personal reasons rather than safety-related concerns. However, it is possible for a protective order to be amended or dismissed entirely if the court finds it invalid or inappropriate. 

Who Is Entitled to Orders of Protection?

The relationships that are eligible for domestic violence restraining orders include:

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San Jose domestic abuse defense attorneyAlmost everyone “goes online” these days for one reason or another. Sometimes it is to research a topic, or simply to peruse a friend’s or family member’s photos on social media sites. However, sometimes crimes can be committed over the Internet via electronic devices such as mobile phones or computers. Whether these crimes are intentional or unintentional, the consequences can be serious. Domestic violence is not limited to just crimes involving physical violence or assault; it includes a wide range of criminal acts. In California, several statutes address domestic violence crimes that are committed electronically. 

California Stalking Laws

Stalking, in its simplest form, is repeatedly following, harassing, and/or threatening another person with the intent to cause the other person to fear for his or her own safety. California stalking laws are considered some of the harshest and most inclusive in the country.

In recent years, the state’s stalking law has been broadened to include “cyberstalking.” When threats or harassment occur via the Internet, text messages, email, or any social media site, the defendant can be charged under the California Penal Code. A few examples of actions or behavior that can lead to stalking charges in California include:

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