The Crime of Domestic Battery in California - PC 243(e)(1)
Domestic battery charges are covered under California Penal Code Section 243(e) and one of the most common forms of domestic violence related charges in Los Angeles County.
It's generally defined as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another person.
In this domestic violence case, the alleged victim can be a current or former spouse, fiancé, cohabitant, person with whom the defendant currently or previously dated, or the parent of your child.
This domestic violence offense is typically considered a lesser charge to California Penal Code Section 273.5 – corporal injury to a spouse.
Under this Penal Code Section, you could be arrested for domestic battery (commonly known as spousal battery) if:
- you use any type of force,
- no matter how slight,
- visible injuries are not required.
In fact, domestic violence related offenses frequently result in an almost automatic arrest with very little evidence proving your guilt.
Furthermore, you can be convicted of domestic battery charges if the alleged victim was not injured in any way. The only requirement is that you used force or violence against the victim. Alleged victims of domestic battery can't drop the charges.
In domestic battery, a case of slight or no injuries is typically filed as a misdemeanor case. If the victim suffered injuries, you could be charged with simple domestic battery, aggravated battery, or even intentional infliction of corporal injury.
Depending on the specific circumstances and the type of injuries, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony case. Aggravated battery and corporal injury of a spouse charges normally involves serious bodily injuries on the victim.
After a domestic battery arrest, your case will assigned to a Los Angeles police detective who will interview the alleged victim and take supplemental statements to support the allegations.
Therefore, it's critical for you to consult with a domestic violence attorney at our law firm before making any statements to police detectives. Even for those arrested for a first-offense domestic violence, the process can be intimidating.
It's possible you may incriminate yourself and make your legal defense difficult. Police detectives are well paid to build a solid criminal case to obtain a conviction.
Don't be fooled by their kindness or laid back approach. They are not on your side.
If you have been arrested for domestic battery, call a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our office to review your case details and discuss immediate legal options. Let's examine the legal definition below.
California Penal Code Section 243(e) – Domestic Battery
Under California law, domestic battery is defined as any willful and unlawful touching that is harmful or offensive against:
- Your current or former spouse or fiancé;
- Your current or former cohabitant;
- The mother or father of your child;
- An individual with whom you have or used to have a dating relationship.
It's important to note again that domestic battery charges don't require that the victim was actually injured.
Some common examples include a boyfriend pushing his girlfriend during and argument or a husband grabbing his wife's wrist to restrain her.
In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to secure a conviction, they must prove certain elements of the crime. These include you:
- willfully touched another individual;
- the touching was offensive or harmful and;
- the individual you touched was a current or former intimate partner
Legally the term “willful” means you acted on purpose. It does not require that you had intent to inflict injury or even break the law.
Many people don't realize it's still possible to be charged with a domestic violence related crime even in a situation where no physical contact occurred during the incident. California Penal Code 422 makes it a crime to use criminal threats against someone.
The term “harmful or offensive touching” means an act that was done in an angry or a disrespectful manner.
Again, you don't have to actually hurt the other person to be convicted of domestic battery. Call a Los Angeles domestic violence lawyer at our law firm for more specific information.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
After you have been arrested for domestic battery, Los Angeles police will typically issue a restraining order, emergency protective order, or criminal protective order that prohibits you from communicating with the alleged victim.
Violating a restraining order is a misdemeanor offense or contempt of court and can complicate your domestic battery defense. An emergency protective order can be issued even if the alleged victim does not want it. Violating a restraining order can lead to jail time and a fine.
Furthermore, after the protective order expires, the court will typically issue another restraining order at your arraignment which restores the no contact provisions.
Modifications of the restraining order could be achieved with the legal assistance of a Los Angeles domestic violence attorney at our office.
However, a modification would normally require support from the alleged victim.
Legal Penalties for a Domestic Battery Conviction
Domestic battery is a misdemeanor offense unless there are serious bodily injuries or other aggravated circumstances.
If you are convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery charges, the penalties include:
- up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail, a $2,000 fine, and probation.
The requirements of probation will include completion of a one year batterer's treatment program.
Additionally, if you receive probation as part of your sentence, you could be required to pay any reasonable expenses that the victim occurred as a result of the domestic battery offense, such as counseling.
A domestic battery conviction could have immigration consequences to non-citizens as it's considered a deportable crime under federal immigration laws.
Legal Defenses Against Domestic Battery Charges
An experienced Los Angeles domestic battery lawyer from our law firm can utilize a variety of legal defenses. These include:
- False accusation – It's not uncommon for individuals to be wrongly accused of domestic battery. In many cases, police will make an arrest based solely on the word of the alleged victim. Often, the victim will make false allegations based on revenge, anger, jealously, or in an attempt to gain an advantage in a child custody case.
- Touching was not willful – By law, you can't be convicted of domestic battery if you didn't willfully touch the alleged victim. In some cases, it may be possible to prove the touching was an unintentional.
- Self-defense – It may be possible to prove that you had a reasonable belief that you or another individual was in imminent danger of suffering a bodily injury. Therefore, you had a reasonable belief to use immediate force to defend yourself and you did not use more force than necessary.
History of Success Defending Domestic Battery Cases
Our Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers are dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients.
With over six decades of combined experience practicing criminal law, we have a history of success defending clients against any type of domestic violence related charges.
A few examples include:
Van Nuys Superior Court – domestic battery charges dismissed. Our client was charged with spousal battery against his ex wife, as well as a probation violation.
Our attorneys aggressively negotiated with the Los Angeles County prosecutor and were able to obtain a dismissal of the domestic battery charges.
During the probation violation hearing, where the alleged victim was cross examined, the court ruled there was no violation and reinstated probation for our client.
San Fernando Superior Court – domestic violence charges dismissed. Our client had a previous domestic violence conviction in another jurisdiction.
He was arrested for felony domestic violence charges. Los Angeles County prosecutor also filed criminal threats charged against our client.
Our criminal defense lawyers conducted an extensive investigation and were able to uncover facts favorable to our client.
After we announced ready for trail, we reviewed problems of proof with the prosecutor and the case was dismissed.
Glendale Superior Court – domestic battery charges dismissed. Despite the police detective being adamant about the prosecutor taking the case to trial, the case was dismissed after we presented the prosecutor with exculpatory evidence obtained during an extensive investigation by our criminal defense law firm.
We convinced the prosecutor the case had reasonable doubt after reading our investigative reports.
Call a Los Angeles Domestic Battery Attorney
If you have been arrested for domestic battery, you need to immediately contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our law firm to review the details of your case.
Don't make any statements to police detectives as you may unintentionally incriminate yourself.
While the alleged victim may not support your arrest and prosecution on domestic battery charges, victims can't drop the charges.
The decision whether to move forward with a criminal domestic violence filing resides solely with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors can proceed with charging you with or without the cooperation of the alleged victim.
Regardless of the circumstances and details of your case, our Los Angeles domestic battery defense lawyers have the experience and commitment to obtain the best possible case result.
Our defense attorneys are available 24/7 to review your case.
Call our law firm at 877-781-1570 for a free immediate response.