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Domestic Battery

Penal Code 243(e)(1) - Domestic Battery in California

Domestic battery charges are defined under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC and are one of the most common types of domestic violence-related charges in Los Angeles County.

It's described as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence against a current or former spouse, fiancé, cohabitant, or a person with whom the defendant currently or previously dated or the parent of your child.

Domestic battery is considered a lesser charge to California Penal Code 273.5 PC corporal injury to a spouse. Under PC 243(e)(1), often called spousal battery, you could be arrested if you use any force, no matter how slight.

Penal Code 243(e)(1) - Domestic Battery in California
PC 243(e)(1) defines domestic battery as using force against a current or former spouse.

It does not require evidence of visible injuries to be arrested by the police. Domestic violence 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 use force or violence against the victim. Notably, suspected victims of domestic battery can't drop the charges.

A case of slight or no injuries in a domestic battery is typically filed as a misdemeanor offense. 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 circumstances and the type of injuries, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony case. Aggravated battery and corporal injury of a spouse commonly involve serious bodily injuries to the victim.

After a domestic battery arrest, your case will be assigned to a Los Angeles police detective who will interview the alleged victim and take supplemental statements to support the allegations. Therefore, you must consult with a domestic violence attorney at our law firm before making any statements to police detectives.

You may incriminate yourself and make your legal defense difficult. Police detectives are paid to build a solid criminal case to obtain a conviction. Don't be fooled by their kindness; they are not on your side.

Domestic Battery - Quick Facts

  • Under California law, domestic battery is defined as any willful and unlawful touching that is harmful or offensive.
  • Victims of domestic violence include current or former spouse, fiancé, current or former cohabitant, mother or father of your child, or an individual with whom you have or used to have a dating relationship.
  • Domestic battery charges don't require that the victim was injured.
  • Common examples include a boyfriend pushing his girlfriend during an argument or a husband grabbing his wife's wrist to restrain her.

What Must Be Proven for a Conviction?

For the Los Angeles County prosecutor to secure a conviction, they must prove some aspects of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, including the following:

  • You willfully touched another individual.
  • The touching was offensive or harmful.
  • The individual you touched was a current or former intimate partner.

The term "willful" means you acted on purpose. It does not require that you had intent to inflict injury or even break the law. The term "harmful or offensive touching" means an act that was done in an angry or even just disrespectful manner. As noted, you don't have to hurt the other person to be convicted of domestic battery.

What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

After you have been arrested for domestic battery, Los Angeles police will generally issue a restraining order or emergency protective order that prohibits you from communicating with the alleged victim.

Violating a restraining order is a misdemeanor offense that can complicate your domestic battery defense. An emergency protective order could be issued even if the alleged victim does not want it.

Also, after the protective order expires, the court will typically issue another restraining order at your arraignment, which restores the no-contact provisions. Our Los Angeles domestic violence attorneys can help you modify the restraining order, but they usually require support from the alleged victim.

What are Domestic Battery Penalties?

Penal Code 243(e)(1) domestic battery is a misdemeanor offense unless there are serious bodily injuries or other aggravated circumstances. If convicted, the penalties include the following:

  • Up to one year in county jail,
  • A $2,000 fine, and
  • Summary probation.

The probation requirements include completing a one-year batterer's treatment program. If you receive probation as part of your sentence, you might be required to pay any reasonable expenses that the victim incurred due to the domestic battery offense, such as counseling.

A domestic battery conviction could have immigration consequences for non-citizens as it's considered a deportable crime under federal immigration laws.

What are the Best PC 243(e)(1) Defenses?

An experienced Los Angeles domestic battery attorney from our law firm can utilize a variety of legal defenses, such as the following:

  • False allegation - It's not uncommon for people to be wrongly accused of domestic battery. Often, police will make an arrest based solely on the word of the alleged victim. Sometimes, the victim will make false allegations based on revenge, anger, jealousy, or in an attempt to gain an advantage in a child custody case.
  • Touching was not willful - By law, you cannot be convicted of domestic battery if you didn't willfully touch the alleged victim. Sometimes, we might be able to prove the touching was unintentional.
  • Self-defense - It may be possible to prove that you reasonably believed that you or another individual was in imminent danger of suffering a bodily injury. Thus, you had a reasonable belief in using immediate force to defend yourself and did not use more force than necessary.

We are dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients. With decades of combined experience practicing criminal law, we have a history of success defending our clients against domestic violence-related charges.

Domestic Violence Defenses

If you have been arrested for domestic battery, you need to immediately contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the details of your case.

Do not make any statements to police detectives, as you may unintentionally incriminate yourself. As noted, while the alleged victim may not support your arrest and prosecution on domestic battery charges, victims can't drop the charges.

The decision on whether to move forward with a criminal domestic violence filing resides solely with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Prosecutors can charge you with or without the alleged victim's cooperation.

I can often get a City Attorney hearing in that situation and end up with a non-filing, where it's not a dismissal because they never filed the case in the first place and called a "DA reject."

Regardless of the circumstances and details of your case, our domestic battery defense lawyers have the experience and commitment to obtain the best possible case result. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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