Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC makes it a misdemeanor crime to inflict force or violence on an intimate partner, a category that includes your fiancé, cohabitant, the parent of your child, or your current or former spouse or dating partner (The Law)
This particular charge does not require any mark or injury on the alleged victim. Any unwanted touching or a push, if done in an angry fashion, could be enough to violate this domestic violence law.
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 even with no visible injuries.
In fact, domestic violence related offenses frequently result in an almost automatic arrest with very little evidence proving your guilt.
The Law of Domestic Battery in California
Domestic battery is a crime of domestic violence in California. However, a defendant can be convicted of this offense even without causing pain to or injuring the alleged victim. All that is required is the use of “force” or “violence” against the person.
The Language of California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC, commonly known as spousal battery states that:
“When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant’s child, former spouse, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of the sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that the defendant participate in, for no less than one year, and successfully complete, a batterer’s treatment program, as described in Section 1203.097, or if none is available, another appropriate counseling program designated by the court. However, this provision shall not be construed as requiring a city, a county, or a city and county to provide a new program or higher level of service as contemplated by Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.”Legislature.ca.gov
As we understand from the text of California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC, the law defines domestic battery as using force or violence against:
- A Current or Previous Spouse
- A Current or Previous Fiancé
- A Current or Previous Boyfriend or Girlfriend
- A Current or Previous Cohabitant
- A Co-Parent
This conviction is a misdemeanor punishable by probation, fines, domestic violence classes, and
up to one year in county jail. This is in contrast to Penal Code 273.5 PC corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, which is more serious domestic violence law and requires that the victim suffer some form of physical injury. 273.5 PC is a wobbler that can be a misdemeanor or a felony.
Note that domestic battery charges do not apply if an individual touches a child in a way that is harmful or offensive. Individuals who are accused of harming a child may be charged with Child Endangerment or Child Abuse.
Offenses Related to Domestic Battery
Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC Domestic battery charges are covered under California Penal Code Section 243(e), and not surprisingly, it is one of the most common forms of domestic violence related charges in Los Angeles, California.
Generally defined as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another person. In the case of Domestic Violence, 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.
There are some other charges used to prosecute battery in California, they include:
Many of these charges come with similar penalties, but they are all treated differently under the law. You can learn more about the specific definition and defenses for domestic battery right here on KN Law Firm’s website.
Elements of Domestic Battery
Before the court convicts you with domestic battery, the prosecutor must prove all the elements of the crime. When the prosecutor fails to do so, you cannot face conviction for domestic battery.
The main elements of the crime are:
The Touch was Willfully
In order to be accused of Domestic Battery you have to be touched someone “willfully”, which means you acted with a purpose. The prosecutor must prove you touched the victim in an offensive or harmful manner and you did that on with purpose.
The Touch Was Offensive or Harmful
Offensive or harmful touching implies the touching was done in a way that could cause physical injuries or harm. It does not matter whether the alleged victim sustains injuries. The law requires the prosecutor to prove you offensively touched the victim. A rude or slight touch is enough evidence of harmful or offensive touching.
The Harm was Against an Intimate Partner
Under the law, an intimate partner might include a family member or another family with whom you have a close relationship. The intimate partner might include your former or current spouse, siblings, parents, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and children. The law requires the prosecutor to prove that the victim was an intimate partner to you at the time of the crime.
Penalties of Domestic Battery Conviction, Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC
Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC 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:
- Jail time up to 1 Year
- Fines up to $2,000
- Probation up to 3 Years
In some cases, a judge may allow individuals to go through a domestic abuse program as a way to avoid some percentage of their jail time.
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.
When you commit the offense for a second time and the court grants you probation, you must remain in county jail for at least 48 hours. However, if you can ascertain why you should not stay in detention, the court can drop the requirement and order you to serve probation.
Consequences of a Domestic Battery Conviction, Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC
A domestic battery conviction can have other effects on your life. For example, individuals who have a domestic battery conviction on their record may have difficulty getting spousal support after a divorce. A history of domestic battery can also make it difficult to get custody of children in the event of a divorce.
A domestic battery conviction could have immigration consequences to non-citizens as it’s considered a deportable crime under federal immigration laws.
The law can also require the defendant to submit their firearms and prevent them from owning or possessing them. The conviction also attracts a criminal record. A criminal record can significantly affect you, especially when seeking a professional license.
When you are the victim of domestic battery, you also want to understand the statute of limitations. The time will ensure the court will punish the defendant for domestic violence. But the court will not consider your case when you file the case with the expired statute of limitation.
In California, all misdemeanors, including domestic battery charges, have a 12 months statute of limitation. But the statute of limitation may pause, especially when the defendant is outside the state. Also, the statute of limitation might be held when the victim acquires evidence through a search warrant.
Defenses Strategies Against Domestic Battery
The broad nature of domestic battery charges can make it hard to build a defense on your own. Individuals may reach out to a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles to get help building a solid defense. Your attorney could argue:
You Did Not Intend to Harm Anyone
Domestic battery charges should only apply if someone intentionally touches another person in a way that is harmful or offensive. If a touch occurred accidentally, you should not face a domestic battery conviction.
You Were Acting to Defend Yourself
The law allows you to defend yourself when you are in imminent danger of suffering severe injuries and harm. But you can only use this defense under the following conditions:
- You strongly believed you were in imminent danger
- You applied the appropriate level of force
- You believed the force was necessary to avoid the danger
Your attorney can argue you acted reasonably within the lawful limit to avoid physical contact with the victim before applying the force. You can also provide evidence to support your claim.
You Were Falsely Accused
Domestic battery charges are often fabricated. Because individuals can be charged with domestic battery even if they do not injure anyone, this charge can be manufactured easily. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to prove that the accusations you are facing are based on lies. Your competent criminal defense attorney can conduct thorough investigations and ask various questions about the crime. Your attorney can even interview eyewitnesses to know whether you are a victim of false accusations.
There is no Insufficient Evidence
When you discredit the prosecutor’s evidence, you may hurt their case. You might do so in several ways. The judge may dismiss the case when the court discovers the prosecutor has insufficient evidence. Your attorney may claim you were away when the alleged crime occurred. Also, your lawyer may argue the physical evidence presented by the prosecutor does not exist. Usually, the court wants to see both physical and emotional evidence.
It was an Accident
The defense means you committed the crime unintentionally. If you argue that your actions were a whole accident, your attorney must confirm your story before developing the defense. For example, when you claim a hammer slipped and hit the victim as you were repairing your kitchen, the attorney will investigate the repairs in the kitchen, the position of the victim during the accident, and the location of the hammer. Also, the attorney will investigate blood stains on other potential weapons.
The Victim consented to Touch
You can employ the defense of consent to fight the domestic battery charge. When you prove before the court that the victim consented to touch, you cannot face conviction for the crime. Since the crime involved two relatives or partners, you can argue you had consent from the victim. However, proving consent might be challenging. Ensure you work with a competent and experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges.
Mistake of Facts
Mistake of fact is another legal defense you can use to fight a domestic battery charge. Your criminal defense attorney can argue you did not aim at committing the crime but committed it due to a mistake of fact. You can provide evidence to demonstrate you committed the crime due to a mistake or you strongly believed the victim consented to the touching. When you do so, the court can drop or reduce the charges.
Legal Advice and Free Consultation for Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC Charges
If you have been arrested for domestic battery, you need to immediately contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to review the details of your case. Don’t make any statements to police detectives as you may unintentionally incriminate yourself.
A domestic battery charge can lead to fines and incarceration. A conviction under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1): Domestic Battery can also make it difficult to get spousal support or custody of your children. Find out how you can get professional help beating these charges by contacting KN Law Firm for a FREE initial case evaluation.
We do everything possible to ensure the court either reduce charges or drops your case. We can even negotiate with the prosecution team before they file the case with the criminal court. So, feel free to work with our team of skilled attorneys today.