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Is Domestic Violence a Felony?
(12 Signs of Domestic Abuse)

When a person is arrested for domestic violence, they may be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on a number of different factors. Prosecutors will consider the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal record when determining what level of criminal charges to file.
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What Constitutes Domestic Violence?

The United Nations [1] defines domestic violence as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain power and control over a partner. The scope of abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, psychological, or a combination of these. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone.

Signs of Domestic Abuse

You may be a victim of domestic abuse if your partner:

  1. Embarrasses or makes fun of you in front of your friends or family
  2. Puts down your accomplishments
  3. Makes you feel like you are unable to make decisions
  4. Uses intimidation or threats to gain compliance
  5. Tells you that you are nothing without them
  6. Treats you roughly—grabs, pushes, pinches, shoves or hits you
  7. Uses drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you
  8. Blames you for how they feel or act
  9. Pressures you sexually for things you aren’t ready for
  10. Makes you feel like there is “no way out” of the relationship
  11. Prevents you from doing things you want
  12. Tries to keep you from leaving after a fight or leaves you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”.

Related Article: Batterers Intervention Program

Domestic Violence Felonies and Misdemeanors

In many instances of domestic abuse, the defendant will be arrested on suspicion of corporal injury to a spouse, which is known as a wobbler offense (can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on a number of factors).

Before the defendant’s arraignment, the Deputy District Attorney will review the case and decide what level of charges to file. The prosecutor will typically file felony charges when there are injuries or where the defendant has a history of domestic violence on their record. Punishment may be increased when the victim experiences severe bodily injury from the defendant’s conduct.

The prosecutor may file charges of corporal injury to a spouse as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Alternatively, the prosecutor may charge the defendant with domestic battery, which is a misdemeanor that usually involves physical contact which does not involve any injury, such as pushing and shoving between a husband and wife.

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