California PC 243(e)(1) – “Domestic Battery” or “Spousal Battery”
CA Penal Code 243(e)(1) is often referred to as “domestic battery.” It is the most common misdemeanor domestic violence charge in the State of California. Hereafter, we will explain what a “domestic battery” is under Penal Code 243(e)(1), how our domestic violence attorneys can help your defense, and what the consequences of a conviction might entail. But first, let’s begin with the elements.
Elements of the Crime
“Battery” is a crime under CA Penal Code 242. A battery is “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another”. Penal Code 243(e)(1) makes it a specific crime to commit a battery against an “intimate partner.”
What does the law mean by “willful?”
If an act was done with intent or on purpose, it is considered “willfull.” It does not mean you intended to commit a crime or harm your “intimate partner,” simply that you intended to make any unlawful or unwanted physical contact.
What does the law mean by “force or violence”?
No actual injury is required, only that even a slight physical contact was made out of anger (or disrespect). Any unwanted physical contact is considered “force or violence.”
What does the law mean by “upon the person”?
Domestic battery can occur when physical contact is made with the skin, clothing, or something “attached or closely connected” to a person. This can include a bag (purse), hat, or other physical objects. Punching someone, knocking an object out of their hand, or pulling on their shirt are all considered physical contact “upon the person”.
What does the law mean by “intimate partner”?
An “intimate partner” can be many things in the eyes of the law:
Any person with which you have or had an intimate relationship
Any person with which you have or had a dating relationship
Your current or former spouse
The parent of your child(ren)
Your fiancé or fiancée
Your same-sex partner
How can you fight my domestic violence charge?
Our attorneys can fight your charge in several ways. Let’s take a look at a few common affirmative defenses:
Self defense: When you have a reasonable belief that you or someone else will suffer serious harm if you don’t fight back, self-defense law may apply. In this situation, the defendant’s actions are excused.
Accident: Accidental touching is not a crime. Otherwise, you could be charged anytime you entered a crowded situation. When there is no “purpose” or “will” to manifest an unwanted or harmful physical contact, there simply is no crime.
False accusations: A spouse may lie and say that she did not make contact the defendant, when in fact she did and the defendant used force out of self-defense. She may make lie when the police arrive to gain favor, resulting in the defendant being arrested and charged with domestic violence.
If convicted, what penalties do I face?
If you are convicted, you may face the following penalties:
Up to 1 year in county jail;
Up to a $2,000 fine;
“Summary” (informal) probation for a period up to 3 years.
If probation is granted, which is typical, the court will require you to complete a minimum 1-year “Batterer’s Program.” The court may also require this in lieu of a fine. You may be required to pay a $5,000 fine to a women’s shelter and pay all related medical expenses as well.
Can a conviction affect my right to own a gun?
Yes. Under some circumstances you may be charged with a felony in which you may be prohibited from owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm for 10 years.
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