You commit a crime of domestic battery when you willfully or unlawfully touch or use force and violence on an intimate partner. Domestic battery is one of the most commonly prosecuted domestic violence crimes in California. You can face an arrest and charge under California Penal Code 243(e) if you use any force or violence on a domestic partner. This is because a physical injury is not necessary for you to be found guilty of the offense.
Per the law, an intimate partner could be your present spouse, fiancé, ex-spouse, cohabitant, or a parent to your child. California law is often strict on individuals charged with domestic violence-related crimes. Therefore, a conviction for domestic battery will attract serious legal consequences.
If you face an arrest and are battling charges for domestic battery, it is important to have a skilled domestic violence attorney review your case. Your lawyer will help you dig deeper into the factors of your case and build a strong defense to beat the charges. Learning more about the domestic battery will help you understand the charges you face, their consequences, and how you need to act throughout the case.
What is a Domestic Battery?
The crime of domestic violence is one of the domestic violence crimes addressed under California Law. Domestic battery, commonly known as spousal battery, occurs when you willfully and unlawfully use force against an intimate partner. Domestic battery is charged under California Penal Code 243(e), and a conviction for the offense may have long-lasting consequences on your life. Authorities often take allegations of domestic battery seriously. Therefore, if a person reports such an incident, you may face an arrest even when the evidence to support the claim is insufficient.
However, before you can be convicted for this crime, the prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
You Willfully Touched Another Person
Before the prosecution can establish your guilt under this statute, they must prove that you acted intentionally. Acting willfully means that you intended to act in the manner in which you did. However, you don’t need to intend to harm your spouse or commit a crime. If you accidentally pushed or touched the alleged victim, you cannot be found guilty of the offense.
The Touching Was Done In A Forceful, Violent, Or Offensive Manner
Proving that you touched the alleged victim willfully is not enough to establish your liability under California Penal Code 243(e). The prosecutor must prove that the r=touching was offensive. Unlawful use of violence or force is any illegal physical contact with another person. The prosecution does not have to prove that your touching caused harm or physical pain to the victim. They only need to establish the offensive nature of your contact.
Under California law, slight touching done rudely or disrespectfully could prompt an arrest and domestic battery charges. Inflicting force or violence upon another person could mean touching the victim’s body, clothing, or something closely attached to their body.
The Victim Of Your Actions Was An Intimate Partner
Domestic battery is a crime only charged when the victim of your crime is your intimate partner. For this statue, an intimate partner could be:
- A current or former spouse. This includes individuals in both same-sex and heterosexual relationships.
- Cohabitant means two individuals who are not related living together for a prolonged time resulting in a permanent relationship. Sometimes, one person could cohabitate with multiple people.
- The other parent of youth child.
- Persons that you are dating. A dating relationship means frequent instances of intimacy where affection or sexual involvement is expected.
If the prosecutor cannot prove all the above elements, you will not be guilty of domestic battery. However, this does not mean that you will always be free to walk away without legal action. If it is clear that you offensively touched another person, the prosecutor could charge you with the crime of assault and battery. A conviction for simple battery does not require proof of your relationship with the alleged victim.
Difference between Domestic Battery and Inflicting Corporal Injury
Domestic battery is a crime of domestic violence triggered by the offensive or unlawful touching of an intimate partner. A physical injury is not necessary for you to be charged and convicted for domestic battery. If you used any force on your spouse and suffered an injury, you could be charged with corporal punishment instead of domestic battery. On the other hand, inflicting corporal injury involves using force or voice, resulting in substantial injury to the victim.
A corporal injury is any form of physical injury that could result in a traumatic condition. You can be charged with inflicting corporal injury if the traumatic condition suffered by the victim was a natural consequence of your actions or the injury was a contributing factor to the trauma.
When compared to domestic battery, inflicting corporal injury on your spouse is a very serious offense. While domestic battery is a misdemeanor, inflicting corporal injury could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you face charges for inflicting injury on your intimate partner and there is no evidence of the injury, you can fight to have your charges reduced to domestic battery.
Penalties for Domestic Battery in California
Under California Penal Code 243(e), domestic battery is charged as a misdemeanor. A conviction for this offense attracts the following penalties:
- A one-year jail sentence.
- Fines of up to $2,000.
In addition to the above legal consequences, domestic battery is considered a crime of moral turpitude and may have significant immigration consequences. If you face a conviction for this offense and you are an immigrant, you risk deportation or being rendered inadmissible in the United States.
Probation for Domestic Battery
As an alternative to serving jail time for domestic battery, the court could sentence you to misdemeanor probation. This will allow you to serve a portion of your entire sentence out of jail. Probation is not often offered to all defendants. You must negotiate with the prosecution to receive this sentence. Since California law is strict on repeat offenders, the court may be reluctant to offer you this alternative sentencing if you have a prior conviction for a domestic violence-related offense.
Being on probation is beneficial since you can continue to live your normal life as you serve your sentence. However, misdemeanor probation lasts up to three years and may keep you tied to the court. Therefore, it would be best to discuss your options with your lawyer to see what suits your situation best.
If the court grants you a probation sentence instead of jail time, you may need to follow some probation conditions, including:
- Mandatory attendance to a batterers program.
- Payment of all court fines and costs.
- It would be best to compensate the victim for reasonable costs of counseling and other expenses that directly result from your crime.
- If the court finds that the use of drugs triggered your violent actions against your intimate partner, the court could order you to attend drug counseling.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order
If you face an arrest for domestic battery in California, the police will issue an emergency protective order or restraining order against you. A domestic violence restraining order is a court order issued to protect a victim of domestic violence and prevent the recurrences of instances of abuse. A victim of domestic battery does not need to be in a relationship with a batterer to file a restraining order.
A domestic violence restraining order will prohibit you from communicating or contacting the victim of your actions. Violation of a domestic violence restraining order is a crime that could make your legal defense challenging and increase the chances of a domestic battery conviction. Mostly, the court will issue a restraining order against you whether the victim wants it or not. If you face charges for domestic battery, seeking legal guidance is crucial.
Defenses against Domestic Battery Charges
A conviction for domestic battery could attract serious legal penalties and consequences that last after you complete your jail sentence. It is crucial to seek legal guidance as soon you learn of an arrest warrant against you or are arrested for this crime. A competent domestic violence attorney will examine the facts of your case thoroughly and help you build a solid defense against the charges. The following are some defense strategies that you can explore:
Claim That You Were Acting In Self Defense Or Defense For Others
Sometimes, an instance of domestic battery could result from you trying to defend yourself from the alleged victim. If you can prove that you acted in self-defense, you will not be found guilty of domestic battery. However, this defense will only apply when you have a reasonable belief that you or another person is in danger of suffering serious bodily injury. Also, the force that you used to defend yourself must have been just enough to stop the harm. If you use self-defense against domestic battery charges, your attorney could check the police report for admission by the victim to have used violence.
The Domestic Battery was Accidental
Slight contact with another person’s body could be considered a battery. However, the prosecutor must prove that you willfully inflicted force or violence on another person before you can face a conviction for this offense. If your whole defense strategy is based on claiming that the battery was accidental, your attorney will look into the case to confirm your version of events. Also, in a case where you did not intend to inflict violence on the alleged victim, the prosecutor will find it challenging to prove the essential element of the willful application of force.
When intimate relationships become sour, it is common for one partner to accuse the other of one or more domestic violence crimes. Since domestic battery does not require proof of physical injury or harm, it can be easy for someone to accuse you of the crime falsely. In cases where children are involved, and there are custody battles, one parent may attempt to gain the upper hand against the other parent by accusing them of domestic battery.
If you believe you are a victim of false allegations. In that case, your attorney may be able to show that the allegations come from a partner who is seeking revenge after your relationship ends.
Instances of domestic violence are taken seriously in California. Therefore, when your intimate partner reports such an incident, the police may be quick to treat you like a criminal. Being accused of breaking the law does not mean that you are guilty. The police officers must follow the right procedure for arrest searches and detention. Some of the ways through which the police officers could violate your rights include:
- Failure to read your Miranda rights before arresting you.
- Denying you the right to contact your attorney. Seeking legal guidance is one of the first steps you should make after an arrest. Your lawyer will guide you on how to act and what to say to avoid self-incrimination.
- Police officers may fail to ask you about your account of the event and thus o by the victim’s testimony alone.
- Coerced confessions.
Many domestic violence-related incidences often attract arrests even when there is no evidence to support the claims. California law defines domestic battery as an act of unlawfully and willfully using force or violence against an intimate or domestic partner. Since physical injury is unnecessary and the cases are often based on the victim’s testimony, it is common to be a victim of false accusations.
Fortunately, not all arrests under California Penal Code 243(e) will result in a conviction. With guidance from a competent domestic violence attorney, you can build a strong defense to fight the charges and avoid the serious consequences that accompany a conviction.
If you or a loved one faces charges for domestic battery in San Diego, CA, you want to contact your lawyer for legal counsel. At the Domestic Violence Attorney Law Firm. Our group of top-notch attorneys will offer you the legal guidance and representation you need to fight domestic battery charges. Call us today at 619-393-8588 to discuss the details of your case.