California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) PC: Domestic Battery

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

domestic battery

Domestic battery under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) PC is one of several charges available to prosecutors to address incidents of domestic violence. Domestic battery is the most commonly filed charge relating to incidents of spousal abuse or domestic violence.

To prove that someone committed domestic battery, the prosecutor must establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant willfully touched the victim in a harmful or offensive way.
  2. AND the victim is the defendant's current or former spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, co-parent, or someone with whom the defendant previously had a dating relationship.

The term cohabitant, as used in the law, means two unrelated people living together for a substantial period of time that may include factors such as a sexual relationship between the two people, sharing of income and expenses, joint ownership of a house or property, and length and continuity of the relationship.

The law makes no distinction between same-sex and heterosexual relationships, and can be applied to both.

Domestic battery involves any harmful or offensive touching and does not require the victim to be injured.

2. Examples

A man and his wife get into a heated argument over finances. At one point, the man grabs both of his wife's wrists in a harsh manner. Even though the wife did not sustain any injury, this man could still be prosecuted for domestic battery due to the harmful or offensive nature of the physical contact.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Assault - California Penal Code Section 240 PC
  2. Battery - California Penal Code Section 242 PC
  3. Intentional Infliction of Corporal Injury - California Penal Code Section 273.5 PC
  4. Battery causing Serious Bodily Injury - California Penal Code Section 243(d) PC
  5. Sexual Battery - California Penal Code Section 243.4 PC

4. Defenses to Domestic Battery

A person is permitted to use force to defend themselves if they feel threatened by immediate bodily harm. In these cases a valid self defense argument can be raised.

It is often the case that a person is unintentionally harmed by their partner and is subsequently charged with domestic battery. In these situations, the defendant could raise an accident defense, as the domestic battery statute requires intentional and willful conduct.

This is an area in which false accusations can be common, especially given the dynamics of domestic relationships and the fact that no physical injury is required. In these cases, an effective defense attorney can attack the false claims in order to undermine the People's case.

5. Penalties

Domestic Battery under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) PC is a misdemeanor that can be punished by up to a year in jail, expensive court fines, community service and/or community labor, domestic violence classes including anger management, and protective/stay-away orders. A conviction of this nature may preclude a person from various jobs, including those that involve caring for children or the sick. Additionally, those convicted of this offense would lose the right to own or acquire firearms.

If a person is convicted of aggravated domestic battery or intentional infliction of corporal injury on a spouse in violation of California Penal Code Section 273.5 PC, that defendant could be sentenced to up to four years in prison.

6. Criminal Defense for Domestic Battery Cases

Domestic violence charges can cause great emotional stress and strain for all parties involved. It is often the case that an accuser who made allegations to the police in a fit of anger will come to regret their actions once tempers have faded. However, prosecutors will often proceed on domestic battery cases even when the "victim" says he or she wants the charges dropped. That is why you need to meet with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney if you or a loved one are facing domestic battery charges. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly effective at defending those accused of domestic battery. In many instances, Mr. Kraut is able to intervene before charges have been filed in order to prevent a criminal case altogether. Mr. Kraut is highly respected throughout the legal community as a fierce defender of his clients' rights.

For more information about domestic battery charges, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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