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Expungement of Domestic Violence Convictions

Posted by Thomas "Doug" Allen | Sep 08, 2014 | 0 Comments

Domestic Violence cases are common prosecutions in California Criminal Courts. If the police are called to a "domestic dispute" many agencies still follow a protocol that they must make an arrest, regardless of the wishes of the victim.

Cases range from very serous injury to no injury at all, but one party will almost always be booked, usually for a felony, and made to post bond. Prosecution agencies are usually aggressive in seeking convictions (even though the 1990's were worse) and many individuals have entered into a settlement of a case that resulted in conviction for domestic violence (also commonly called "DV") offenses.

These cases can be expunged, and felony cases reduced to a misdemeanor and then expunged, so long as no state prison time was imposed.

The most common convictions are: Penal Code 273.5 Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant. This requires a "traumatic condition" that can be as minimal as red mark or slight swelling or a bruise. This can be a felony or misdemeanor. Penal Code 243(e)(1) Domestic Battery. This includes a cohabitant, the parent of your child, your current or former spouse, or a dating partner. Unlike Penal Code 273.5, 243 does not require a visible injury.

Penal Code 422, Criminal Threats;  This involves a threat of serious harm to someone if you intend to put the person in fear, and the threat actually did put the person in fear. This offense may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Firearms Issues: If you were convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, there is a 10 year prohibition from the state of California under Penal Code § 12021 c 1. Obtaining an expungement does not reinstate firearms rights.Under Federal Law there is also a lifetime prohibition from the United States government (Lautenberg Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act enacted in 1996) which prohibits firearm ownership of those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Expungement in California does not lift the federal firearms prohibition. There are some differences between the Federal and California definitions of misdemeanor domestic violence.

About the Author

Thomas "Doug" Allen

Doug has practiced law in California for the past 25 years, and has represented clients charged with offenses ranging from possession of an open container of alcohol to first degree murder. He has extensive courtroom and trial experience and has personally litigated more than 4,000 California expungement cases.


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