California laws take domestic battery seriously and have established harsh penalties over this crime. If you are facing a domestic battery charge, you should hire a professional attorney to help you with your case. There are quite a lot of attorneys to choose from, but the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin guarantees the best attorneys that suit your case.
Legal Definition of Domestic Battery in California
Everything related to domestic battery is defined under California Penal Code 243(e)(1). Under this penal code, domestic battery is defined as the willful touching of an intimate person to offend or harm him or her. From the definition, three aspects can be deduced. A prosecutor must prove these aspects to prosecute an offender under this penal code. They are considered as the elements of crime, and are as follows:
For an action to be described as deliberate, it means that you did it on purpose or willfully. Therefore, you are not expected to have intended to:
- Break the law
- Inflict injury on another person
Touched Someone Else Harmfully or Offensively
One of the striking aspects of domestic battery is the fact that you can be prosecuted even without touching another person. To define a harmful or offensive touch, one does not necessarily have to cause injuries or pain to the other person as long as the action was done disrespectfully and angrily. For that reason, a crime under this penal code is similar to Penal Code 242: Battery.
Please note, California law is not sure whether you have to touch another person to be considered guilty of domestic battery. This alludes that you can be convicted based on touching something that is strictly connected or attached to the person, rather than his or her body.
For a prosecutor to successfully prosecute you under Penal Code 243(e)(1), the alleged victim should be someone who you have an intimate relationship with. These people include:
- Current or former spouse
- Someone who you have been cohabiting with
- Someone who is a parent to your child
- Your fiance or fiancee
- Someone who you had a previous dating relationship with
It is easy to prove someone to be a spouse, fiancee, fiance, or parent to your child. However, it is quite complicated for someone who you have been cohabiting with.
Comparison between Domestic Battery and Violence
Domestic battery and violence are quite close based on their definition and how they are carried out. The only similarity that comes between these two offenses is the person who the crime is the alleged victim, which in this case involves intimate partners.
However, the difference between the two would be how the action is being committed. Based on the legal definition of domestic violence, this is the abuse of an intimate person by recklessly or intentionally threatening or using physical force. On the other hand, domestic battery considers battery as willfully touching someone harmfully or offensively.
The other difference between the two is the kind of penalties they attract. Domestic battery is charged as a misdemeanor, while domestic violence is a wobbler. This means that it is punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Please note, a domestic battery falls under domestic violence, although it is charged as a separate offense.
Penalties for Domestic Battery in California
As described above, domestic battery is a misdemeanor in California. If one gets convicted with such an offense, the kind of penalties that follow are:
- Imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of one year
- A fine reaching up to $2,000
- Misdemeanor or summary probation
Probation Conditions in Domestic Battery Offense
Most of the people charged with California domestic battery end up receiving probation. In this case, one must complete a minimum of one year in a batterer’s program.
There are other common conditions that the court might decide to impose on you, other than attending a batterer’s program. These conditions are as follows:
- Subjection to restraining orders
- Complete Cal trans roadside work or community work
- Avoiding violation of any laws
The court might also decide on a different sentence rather than paying the $2,000 fine. This different sentence is as follows:
- A maximum fine of $5,000 to a batterer’s women's shelter
- Any other reasonable costs that the victim suffered due to the offense, which includes counseling expenses.
Lastly, if you are convicted for a second or subsequent time, get probation as your sentence, you will have to serve imprisonment for a minimum of forty-eight hours. The only way to evade this is by convincing the judge that there is a good cause as to why you should not serve jail time.
In California, domestic battery is a minor offense in some way and does not attract severe penalties. Even so, non-citizen offenders should be aware of the potential of deportation due to such a crime.
Since a domestic battery is part of domestic violence, this makes it a deportable crime. Therefore, a non-citizen defendant is at risk of being deported due to these charges.
Legal Defenses for Domestic Battery
Whenever you hire an attorney, you expect him or her to use relevant legal defenses to help in dropping your charges or have the case dismissed. Either way, there are several legal defenses that an attorney can use to achieve such expectations. Below are a couple of legal arguments that can work for a domestic battery case.
Your actions can be justified if you reasonably believed that someone else was in imminent danger of being touched unlawfully or suffering from bodily injuries. Also, this legal defense works when you are defending yourself from imminent danger and when you use more than force to protect yourself against that danger.
Lack of Willfulness
The court will consider your innocence from a domestic battery if you did not touch your intimate partner willfully. This is similar to doing something accidentally. For this defense to work, you need to prove to the court that your actions were not merely intended, and the prosecutor can assess the situation and confirm this.
Sometimes, spouses might have an ill motive against the partners, which makes them lay false accusations against them. Also, such allegations can be brought forward if the other spouse is driven by revenge, jealousy, and anger.
Such situations might make the plaintiff appear helpless, especially when the defendant has put a strong claim on the allegation. Therefore, your attorney should do a thorough investigation of the situation to ensure that the accusations were falsely made.
Lack of Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Sometimes the alleged victim might fail to testify against you since there is no proof of the allegations made against you. Therefore, your attorney will have to:
- Check whether the case has been built around the accusations that the victim has provided
- Check whether you suffered any injuries as a result of the battery
- Confirm whether there is any physical evidence that can prove that the assault happened. This includes your fingerprints on broken items and any weapon you are alleged to have used
- Establish whether you made any threats as a way to intimidate the victims towards any testaments in court
Proving police misconduct can be a suitable way to deal with any case. Your attorney should go ahead and prove police misconduct in the following ways:
- Lack of proper interrogation from the police officers
- Failure to read the Miranda rights to you
- Lack of probable cause for your arrest
- Failure to ask the account of the events before arresting you. In this case, the police officer could have made bias conclusion
- Failure to collect physical evidence
- Failure to report sufficiently by describing the incident accurately
Lack of Sufficient Actions to Consider Your Charges
Based on the descriptions provided under this penal code, there is no apt description of domestic battery. Therefore, if your action did not involve any physical touching, it can be hard to determine whether your actions count as domestic battery. Such an instance can be an excellent chance to disapprove of the case presented against you.
Crimes that are Related to Domestic Battery in California
There are a few crimes that are related to domestic battery in California. These crimes are either convicted along with Penal Code 243(e)(1), carry the same penalty, or involve the same individuals. Here are the crimes that are related to domestic battery in California.
Intentional Infliction of Severe Bodily Injury, Penal Code 273.5
Under Penal Code 273.5, it is unlawful to willfully or intentionally inflict corporal injuries on an intimate partner. The difference between this offense and a domestic battery is the willful infliction of bodily injuries on another person.
Intentional infliction of severe bodily injuries on an intimate partner is a wobbler in California. If one gets a misdemeanor charge, the possible penalty that applies includes imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of a year and a maximum fine of $6,000. For a felony conviction, the possible penalty that applies include imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years or a maximum fine of $6,000.
Aggravated Battery, Penal Code 243(d)
Under Penal Code 243(d), it is unlawful to cause aggravated injuries on another person. The difference between this offense and a domestic battery is that an aggravated assault must involve serious bodily injury and involves anyone, apart from an intimate partner.
Violation of this penal code is a wobbler. For a misdemeanor offense, the possible penalties include imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of one year and a maximum fine of $1,000. On the other hand, a felony aggravated battery attracts a possible penalty of two, three, four years in county jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Elder Abuse, Penal Code 368
Under Penal Code 368, it is unlawful to willfully and negligently impose unwarranted physical harm on someone at the age of 65 or older, or someone who is mentally ill.
Violation of this penal code is a wobbler. If one gets charged with a misdemeanor, the possible punishment includes county jail imprisonment for a maximum of a year, a maximum fine of $6,000, and restitution of the victim. A felony offense is punishable by state imprisonment for a maximum of four years, a fine that can reach up to $10,000, and restitution.
If the victim suffers severe bodily injuries, the defendant can end up getting an additional seven years of imprisonment.
Criminal Threat, Penal Code 422
Under Penal Code 422, it is unlawful to threaten someone else with severe harm. Such an offense is considered a wobbler. For a misdemeanor charge, the possible punishment includes imprisonment for a maximum of one year while a felony attracts a maximum of four years of imprisonment. A felony charge can also lead to a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes law.
Disturbing the Peace, Penal Code 415
Under Penal Code 415, it is unlawful to fight in public and use direct, provocative words towards another person while in public.
Violation of this penal code is an infraction and carries maximum jail time of ninety days.
Prosecutors can reduce domestic battery as a disturbance of peace during a plea bargain. This makes it suitable for avoiding severe fines and immigration consequences that hail from violations associated with domestic assault.
Child Endangerment, Penal Code 273(a)
Under Penal Code 273(a), it is unlawful to:
- Cause or allow unjustifiable physical pain or mental pain in a minor
- Willfully cause or allow injuries to a minor
- Willfully cause or permit a minor to be placed in a dangerous situation
The punishment that follows under this penal code depends on whether you caused significant bodily injury on the child or not. If there was no possibility of substantial physical harm, the possible punishment includes:
- Imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of a year
- A maximum fine of $1,000
Find a Criminal Attorney Near Me
It is not easy to handle domestic battery charges all by yourself. It needs someone with substantial legal knowledge to have such a case withdrawn or have the charges reduced. Unfortunately, most people cannot achieve these expectations hence the need to involve a professional attorney. Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin has the best attorneys for domestic battery charges in Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles County. Contact us today at 310-273-9600 and let us help you.