California Penal Code Section 273.5(a) PC
273.5(a) PC is the section of the California Penal Code that deals with domestic violence. Under this law it is illegal to injure a co-parent, co-habitant, spouse or former co-habitant, co-parent, or spouse. Other terms for 273.5(a) PC are:
- Domestic violence
- Domestic abuse
Corporal injury to a spouse
Domestic violence under 273.5(a) PC requires the victim to be injured from the act of violence. This can include anything from a bruise or scratch through to broken bones and internal injuries. The law calls this a traumatic condition, and it refers to any kind of physical injury.
The legal elements of domestic violence are what the prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict a defendant under 273.5(a) PC. The prosecutor must prove:
- The defendant intended to harm the victim in an unlawful manner
- The victim is a co-parent, cohabitant, or spouse (current or former)
- The injury led to a traumatic condition
- The defendant was not acting in self-defense
In terms of 273.5(a) PC, roommates or cohabitating friends are not covered by domestic violence laws. There must be some romantic or sexual link between the victim and the defendant for the crime to be called domestic violence.
If the police are called to a domestic dispute, either by neighbors or by the victim, then they can only arrest someone under 273.5(a) PC if there is evidence of physical injuries. They may see a black eye, bleeding nose, or broken bones. If there is no sign of physical injuries, the police cannot arrest someone for domestic violence under 273.5(a) PC, but they may arrest someone under 243 PC, which is domestic battery.
Related offenses to 273.5(a) PC are:
- 240 PC – Assault
- 242 PC Battery
- 243 PC – Domestic Battery
- 243(d) PC – Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury
Penalties For Domestic Violence (273.5(a) PC)
The criminal charges for domestic violence can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. In deciding the 273.5(a) PC charges, the prosecutor and judge will take into account the criminal history of the defendant as well as the amount of violence used and the injuries caused to the victim.
If the defendant is charged with 273.5(a) PC felony, then as a violent crime, it would count as one strike under the three-strikes rule in California. They will also be sentenced to up to four years in state prison and may receive added time depending on the level of injury they caused.
Legal Defenses to a 273.5(a) PC Charge
If you are charged with domestic violence under 273.5(a) PC, then you can use one of the following legal defenses:
- Self-defense to protect yourself or your children
- False accusations
If you are falsely accused of domestic violence or the alleged victim wants to drop the domestic violence charges, the case will still go to trial. 273.5(a) PC charges are often dropped even when there is substantial harm or evidence that domestic violence occurred, so the law does not allow victims to drop the charges. The court will view your case and determine if there is reasonable doubt that domestic violence occurred. Because of the substantial penalties a 273.5(a) PC charge carry and its implication on your future, you must hire a criminal defense attorney. Do not think that innocence is the best defense.