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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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