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Penalties for Domestic Violence

Sentencing & Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction

At the Castillo Law Office, our domestic violence attorney possesses the proven techniques that can provide an aggressive defense to your case. With many years of experience fighting domestic violence cases there isn't a situation we haven't dealt with. Whether you acted in self-defense, have been falsely accused because of a child custody dispute, or the complaining witness lied because something happened they did not like, Oakland domestic violence attorney Ernesto Castillo will use his experience to fight hard to get you the result you need.

Our experienced domestic violence attorney is also familiar with how to deal with a witness who does not want to cooperate with the prosecution or who has acknowledged falsely reporting abuse. It is quite common for a prosecutor to ignore the wishes of a witness who doesn't want to testify and force them to take the witness stand anyway.

Here at the Castillo Law Office, we understand and are familiar with the laws that can stop the prosecution from forcing a witness to testify and which can help get your case dismissed under these circumstances. The most significant law in this area is California Code of Civil Procedure section 1219, which provides that victims of domestic violence have a right to remain silent on the stand, with no possible jail time for contempt.

Under this law; for example, one can refuse to answer questions in court and receive no jail time for refusing to cooperate. This can be extremely significant in the resolution of your case because it means that the prosecutor has no evidence of the charges and the case could get dismissed.

What is domestic violence?

The two primary domestic violence laws are Penal Code sections 243 and 273.5. When there is no injury or only a minimal injury, the district attorney will charge a violation of Penal Code section 243, subdivision (e) battery on a spouse, cohabitant, parent of child, or person with a dating relationship. A battery is a non-consensual use of force, no matter how small, on the body of another person. To prove a violation of this section, the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the relationship status and the non-consensual use of force.

What are the penalties for domestic violence?

The penalties for a violation of Penal Code section 243, subdivision (e), can be severe: up to a year in jail, maximum $2,000 fine, one year of domestic violence classes, probation, stay away order for the victim, a maximum payment of $5,000 to a battered women's shelter, and reimbursement for the victim's counseling costs.

Besides the criminal consequences, a domestic violence conviction will forever bar gun ownership under federal law, result in deportation, and make it much more difficult to obtain a job and professional license.

Penal Code section 273.5 is a more serious domestic violence offense and can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The section applies when a person "willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition" on a spouse, cohabitant, parent of their child, or person with a dating relationship.

The maximum punishment for a first time felony offense is four years prison and a $6,000 fine, while the misdemeanor conviction can only result in up to a year in jail. The same requirements of domestic violence classes and gun ownership prohibitions apply. Since the sentence can obviously vary a great deal, it is important to speak to an attorney for an evaluation of the possible consequences.

On occasion the district attorney will add an allegation of great bodily injury, which can result in conviction for a violent strike offense. On other occasions, the district attorney may also charge rape, false imprisonment, or kidnapping, both offenses that can result in serious prison sentences.

Experienced Domestic Violence Defense

Having worked as a criminal defense attorney in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and San Francisco County, and negotiated and gone to trial on numerous domestic violence charges in Oakland and throughout Alameda County, Ernesto Castillo knows all the necessary techniques to get the best possible result.

Whether a case revolves around a defense to domestic violence, or dealing with a "sideways" witness, our Oakland domestic violence attorney will use everything possible to gain an advantage. We will fight hard to avoid the serious consequences of a domestic violence conviction.

If you have been charged with domestic violence in Oakland, or anywhere else in Alameda County, please contact our office for a free consultation.

Hear it From A Few
Of Our Clients

  • I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.

    “Ernie Castillo was highly recommended to us. I researched and interviewed a few attorneys before making a decision of who we were going to select. It's so tough selecting when you're skeptical with the horror stories of attorney's not feeling the passion for their work but the money. After long conversations my husband and I decided to go with Ernie to represent our son in a serious case with multiple charges. We were not disappointed at all. Mr. Castillo expertise exceeded our expectations. His was thorough, he kept us up to date on the case, answered all our questions, returned our calls in a timely manner, he's truly a genuine and sincere person. Most of all his knowledge in handling the case was remarkable. I can't express thanks enough to Ernie for the spectacular job he did defending my son who was facing years in jail. He took a stressful situation and relieved it with a positive outcome. I would recommend Mr. Castillo without any reservation.”


  • I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.

    “A few years back, Ernie Castillo represented a family member of mine who was charged with a vehicular offense. Although minor compared to the high profile cases Ernie is accustomed to, Ernie took the case with the utmost professionalism and was able to reduce the charge so that my family member's record was not affected. I can't thank Ernie enough for investing his time and sincere efforts to helping my family out. He truly is a master of his craft.”


  • I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.

    “Mr Castillo represented me on a criminal case in which I was falsely accused in 2012. He took over the case from a previous lawyer who was less aggressive and not actively pursing my defense. Mr Castillo is a confident, aggressive and very persistent lawyer. He kept my family and I up to date on the case and also returned our calls on time. Mr Castillo persuaded me not to take any deal and wanted take the case to trial because he was confident that he would win. With the Lord's guidance and Ernie's aggressiveness my case was dismissed. I would highly recommend Mr Castillo to anyone.”