Does There Have to be a Visible Injury in Order For Someone to be Charged with Domestic Violence?
When it comes to Penal Code Section 273.5, in order to charge this corporal injury to a spouse, for this particular Penal Code Section, there has to be some sort of a visible injury. See CALCRIM 840 – inflicting injury on spouse, cohabitant.
What Does the Prosecutor Have to Prove?
They're just going to have to prove that somebody battered another person in order to put it under the domestic violence umbrella. There has to be some sort of relationship between the two parties. They don't necessarily have to be husband and wife. They could be just the significant other of the person. They just can't be a stranger in order to jam it under the domestic violence umbrella.
Typically what I see realistically in domestic violence cases — especially if the person has no criminal record — if there is just an argument or fight between two people, then we're typically not going to see a case filed, even if the police come and arrest people.
The prosecutors, when they look at a case, they're looking at a number of different things, and one of the biggest factors that they're looking at is whether or not the individual has any injuries on them.
If there's no injury and it was just a yelling match or some pushing and shoving, a lot of times I see the prosecutors not filing those cases and ending up doing a City Attorney hearing, for example, where a lot of times we're able to avoid any type of a prosecution at all.
Injuries are Important Factor in Domestic Violence Charges
That whole injury thing is a very important factor that prosecutors look at when deciding whether to file a criminal case against a particular person. So, if there's no injury in your case and there's an argument that it was basically mutual combat between you and the other party, you've got a good fighting chance to avoid a conviction in the case.
A lot of time we will send a letter to the prosecutors prior to the filing laying out your version of events so they can see the other side of it, because the police do a one-sided investigation in a lot of these cases and we will also send out character letters and really try to make you look good in the eyes of the prosecutor, especially in a close case so we can try to avoid a filing all together.
But if the person was injured — they have a black eyes or there's any type of marks and the police took pictures of it, forget it. The prosecutors aren't going to care about any type of letter unless there's somehow some self-defense and there are injuries on you as well.
They're going to probably file that case and it's going to have to be dealt with. So, the injury factor in a domestic violence case in Los Angeles is a huge thing. If there was no injuries in your case, you have a good fighting chance to avoid any type of a filing, and therefore, any type of conviction in the case.
Of course, all cases are different and it's not always a good idea to generalize, especially in domestic violence cases where the prosecutors have such a low tolerance for letting people get away with things and if they think somebody is involved in any type or any form of domestic violence.
They're likely to prosecute that person to the full extent of the law, even if the alleged victim doesn't want the person prosecuted. They don't care. They would rather go to trial and lose in a domestic violence case than not file a case and have the victim end up getting seriously hurt or killed and having that on their conscious and having to deal with that.
Domestic Violence Lawyer
So, that's really how they deal with cases. You have to realize that going in — how political domestic violence cases are in Los Angeles, California, and having an attorney on your side makes a huge difference in getting the right result.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.