What Is Domestic Violence Enhancement

Did you know that certain elements or factors could improve the potential penalties for your domestic violence charges? These factors are called domestic violence enhancers.

In this blog post, we'll discuss more about what a domestic violence enhancer is and how it can affect your criminal charges, how different states regulate domestic violence enhancements, and more!

What Constitutes a Domestic Violence Crime in California?

Before delving into domestic violence enhancers, let's first examine what California state law considers a domestic violence crime. According to California Penal Code 13700, domestic violence offenses are acts of abuse against someone you are in an intimate relationship with.

Let's further dissect the terms included in this clause:

  • Abuse is a broad term referring to various acts of taking advantage of someone. The scope of definition ranges from inflicting bodily harm to committing sexual abuse and financial abuse.
  • An intimate relationship is someone you have or had a close relationship with. This involves a current partner, former spouses, children, relatives, etc.

Some criminal charges for domestic violence are punished as a misdemeanor, which entails a maximum of a one-year jail sentence in Los Angeles county jail and a maximum penalty fine of $2,000.

If you're convicted of a felony domestic violence, you could face a maximum of four years of imprisonment in California state prison and a maximum penalty fine worth $10,000. In most cases, the victim could also request a protection order against you.

Enhanced Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in California

As mentioned earlier, domestic violence cases are broadly defined, encompassing different crimes of physical, sexual, mental, and financial abuse.

Certain domestic violence charges possess enhancing elements, such as carrying a firearm or sexually abusing a minor. In the following sections, we'll discuss the enhanced penalties of domestic violence and their enhancers.

Permanent Criminal Record

Most domestic violence cases entail a permanent criminal record. If the evidence suggests that you caused the victim's physical injury and other notable damages, you could end up with a permanent criminal record which is exceptionally challenging to expunge.

A permanent criminal record could negatively affect your employment, scholarship, and licensing opportunities. Furthermore, you could have difficulty obtaining housing loans or other loan benefits with a lifelong domestic violence record.

Loss of Gun Rights

Brandishing or carrying a firearm to assault a spouse, child, or relative could cost you your gun rights. Moreover, if you're accused of causing severe injuries to the victim, this could also be grounds for the court to dismiss your gun rights.

Unfortunately, losing your gun rights from a domestic violence criminal charge is irreversible. Domestic violence with a firearm is a critical criminal offense in California which violates several state and federal laws.

The court can't and won't reinstate your gun rights even if you successfully expunged your domestic violence charges.

Loss of Custody Rights

Child abuse is a type of domestic violence recognized in several state laws. If you're accused of causing severe injuries to a minor or have had a domestic violence conviction for the past five years, you could permanently lose your custody rights. In some cases, however, the court could still grant you visitation rights.

Immigration Consequences

Immigrants with a history of an aggravated felony or criminal case with moral turpitude could face harsh immigration consequences. If you're convicted of these criminal charges, you could incur the following penalties:

  • Deportation or removal from the country;
  • Inadmissibility or not allowed to return to the country after you left;
  • Ineligibility to get a green card, or
  • Adjustment of immigration status from legal to illegal.

Unfortunately, domestic violence falls into both of these categories. If you're an immigrant trying to beat a domestic violence allegation, you must hire an experienced and reliable domestic violence attorney.

Domestic Violence Enhancements in Other States

Different states treat domestic violence enhancements differently. In the following sections, we'll go over the distinct treatment of Utah and Colorado state laws toward domestic violence enhancement.


The Utah state law treats domestic violence as an independent criminal charge and an enhancer, meaning you could be convicted of domestic violence, or your current criminal charges could be enhanced if you have a history of domestic violence conviction.

As an enhancer, your current charges and criminal history comes into play. For example, suppose you're convicted of a misdemeanor crime involving domestic violence and have had a domestic violence conviction for the past ten years. In that case, the court will enhance your penalties to a certain degree.


Unlike California and Utah, the state of Colorado does not treat domestic violence as an independent crime. In contrast, domestic violence is an enhancer of your current criminal charges.

Colorado is a mandatory arrest state, meaning the police will arrest domestic violence offenders if the authorities are notified of suspected behaviors. The authorities will do further investigation before pressing charges.

Since Colorado does not recognize domestic violence as an independent crime, they usually use it to enhance the following criminal charges:

  • Assault;
  • Stalking;
  • Harassment;
  • Child abuse;
  • Sexual conduct;
  • Menacing;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Elder abuse;
  • Sexual assault, or
  • Violating a protection order.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help Protect Your Rights

Domestic violence is a grave crime in California. With extensive imprisonment terms, hefty penalty fines, and a possibility of enhanced criminal penalties, domestic violence charges could completely flip your life upside-down.

There are several reasons why an alleged victim might push through with a domestic violence enhancement, such as to prevent you from seeing your children, recover a large sum in the process, or get away from you.

Fortunately, domestic violence enhancement is not entirely unavoidable. With the right legal representative and a strong criminal defense strategy, dismissing a domestic violence charge altogether is not far from reality.

Schedule Your Free Consultation With Our Domestic Violence Attorney Today

If you're searching for an experienced, reliable, and committed Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, we got your back. At Hurwitz Law Group, our legal team is one of the finest and most renowned legal representatives in the area.

With over a decade of criminal defense expertise and hundreds of successful case outcomes, our team can help you prevent severe penalty enhancements and get your life back up after a criminal charge.

Schedule your free case review today and get professional legal advice from some of the greatest minds in the Los Angeles area. Call us now at (323) 310-9677 or schedule your free consultation online.

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