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Is domestic violence a misdemeanor or felony? The answer is, it depends on a lot of different factors.
Domestic violence is a very broad legal term used to describe all forms of violence by one member of a household or family against another member of a household or family . The victim can be, but is not limited to, a:
The forms of violence encompass all sorts of acts, be it physical, sexual, emotional, or economic. Some states have specific laws against domestic violence, while other states prosecute domestic violence according to the laws of the underlying crime, such as physical violence of assault and battery.
Misdemeanors are crimes with maximum sentences of one to twelve months in jail, while felonies are crimes with maximum sentencing over twelve months in prison. And then there are "wobblers", underlying crimes that have misdemeanor and felony charges. Case prosecutors decide under which level of crime they will prosecute.
As stated, some states have specific laws against domestic violence. Let's examine the crime of battery, which is a wobbler, and will depend under which statute a district attorney decides to prosecute. For instance, in California, in an accusation of battery against a spouse, a prosecutor can choose to charge the defendant with:
If you have been accused of domestic violence, these charges can be quite serious. Take action at once to speak with a local criminal defense attorney, who can look at the facts of your case. It may be possible for your attorney to speak with the prosecutor and lessen charges before they are formally filed, which can be life-changing for a variety of reasons.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.