7 Things You Need To Know About “Domestic Battery”

California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1

In California, there are two types of domestic violence crimes that you can be charged with.

  1. Domestic Battery” pursuant to Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) which is the least serious, or
  2. Corporal Injury To A Spouse or Co-Habitant

Below Are 7 Things You Need To Know About Domestic Battery.

Definition of Penal Code 243(e)(1)

California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) — California’s law on domestic battery – defines this offense as a “battery” committed against a person with whom you have an intimate relationship1.

domestic violence image

You commit domestic battery if you willfully or unlawfully touched an intimate partner and inflicted force or violence.

Who is Considered An Intimate Partner?

  • Defendant’s former spouse
  • Defendant’s former cohabitant
  • Defendant’s fiancé
  • Person with whom the defendant currently has, or previously had, a dating or engagement relationship
  • Mother/father of the defendant’s child2

What Are The Penalties For PC 243(e)(1)?

This offense is charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,000, or by imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum period of 1 year, or by both the fine and the imprisonment.

Can You Be Charged With PC 243(e)(1) if There Was No Injury?

Making contact with another person, including through his or her clothing, is enough. The touching does not have to cause pain or injury of any kind.

Example Of Domestic Battery

James and Kathy were having a fight and Kathy told James that she hates him and never wants to see him again.  She then used the palm of her hand to push him away without applying much force.

Even though James suffered no injury, Kathy can be charged with domestic battery under Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) pc, because even the slightest touching can be enough to commit a battery if it is done in a rude or angry way.

What Is The Difference Between “Domestic Battery” And Domestic Violence?

A domestic battery charge under penal code 243(e)(1) is always a misdemeanor. However, a domestic violence charge under penal code 273.5 is a wobbler which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the case and level of injury. Domestic violence under PC 273.5 requires that the victim suffer some injury while a domestic battery only requires harmful or offensive touching.

Corporal Injury To Spouse or Co-Habitant: Penal Code Section 273.5:

This offense is committed when a defendant willfully inflicts physical injury on his/her intimate partner and the injury results in a traumatic condition.  Unlike in a “simple domestic battery,” when you bring charges of “intentional infliction of corporal injury,” you cannot bring such charges against a person you are or were engaged to, or are or were dating.  Notice that the definition of “intimate partner” in this offense is limited to the following:

  • defendant’s former spouse
  • former or current cohabitant
  • the mother/father of defendant’s child

Also, unlike in the other domestic violence offenses, this offense requires that the victim suffer a “traumatic condition.”  A “traumatic condition” is defined as a wound or other bodily injury, whether minor or serious, caused by the direct application of physical force. 3

Similar to “aggravated battery,” “willful infliction of emotional corporal injury” is a more serious offense than the offense of “simple battery” under Penal Code 243(e)(1).  As such, the punishment for the offense may include either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and defendant’s criminal history.

How Does the Prosecutor Prove Domestic Battery?

To prove that you are guilty of “domestic battery,” the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements4.

  • You willfully5 and unlawfully touched6 the victim/accuser in a harmful or offensive manner;

AND

  • The victim/accuser was one of the following:
  • Your former spouse
  • Former cohabitant 7
  • Your current fiancé
  • Your former fiancé
  • Person you currently or previously had a dating relationship with8
  • The mother or father of your child9.

How Can You Fight Domestic Battery Charges?

The most common defenses that a skilled criminal defense attorney can use to defend you from a charge of “domestic battery” are as follows:

You Were Acting In Self-Defense or Defense of Others

If you acted in self-defense, this may be used as a defense to this charge10.

sword, scales,law book

The defense will apply in a situation when you have a reasonable belief that you or another person will suffer a great bodily injury if you do not defend yourself or another person.

However, the force that you use to repel the threatened force has to be proportionate (i.e. reasonable and not excessive) to that force.  Also, once you have repelled the force and the threat subsides, you have to stop.  Otherwise, you may not be able to use this defense.

Example Of Self Defense:

When James’ wife started beating their daughter Sarah for misbehaving, James pushed his wife out of the way to prevent her from battering the daughter, which caused the wife to fall on the floor and hit her head on the refrigerator.

If James is charged with domestic battery, his lawyer can use the defense of others to argue that James’ actions were justified, as he had a reasonable belief that Sarah would suffer a bodily injury if he did not defend her from his wife.

The Domestic Battery Was An Accident:

If you battered another person accidentally, you are not guilty of domestic battery, because this offense requires that the battery be “willful,” or intended application of force11.

sword, scales,law book

In a situation where the defendant had no such intent, a prosecutor will not be able to prove the essential element of “willful” application of force.

Penalties for Domestic Battery

This code section is a misdemeanor and if you are convicted of “domestic battery” pursuant to California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1), you face the following penalties:

criminal handcuffed
  • A maximum of 1 year in county jail.
  • A maximum fine of $2,000.
  • Probation (informal) for up to 3 years.

Are There Conditions Of Probation?

If probation is granted, the court will require you to successfully complete the folliwng

  1. A batterer’s program for a minimum of 1 year12
  2. The defendant reimburse the victim for reasonable costs of counseling and other reasonable expenses that the court finds are the direct result of the defendant’s offense13.

If You Have A Prior Conviction For PC 243(e)(1) Will The Penalties Go Up?

If you have a prior Penal Code 243(e)(1) conviction on your criminal record, the court will order you to serve a minimum sentence of 48 hours in county jail.

Are There Immigration Comsequences If Convicted Under PC 243(e(1)?

Penal Code 243(e)(1) is considered a crime of moral turpitude which means that a conviction under this code section may be a deportable offense.

Case Process Information

How We Can Help

If you have any questions about the material presented in this article please contact attorneys at the Aizman Law Firm at 818-351-9555.

Request A Free Consultation 818-351-9555 

Footnotes

  1. California’s Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) pc: 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, fiance, or fiancee, 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 []
  2. See the relevant portion of California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1): (e) (1) 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…” []
  3. Traumatic Condition Defined. California Penal Code § 273.5(d): (d) As used in this section, “traumatic condition” means a condition of the body, such as a wound, or external or internal injury, including, but not limited to, injury as a result of strangulation or suffocation, whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by a physical force. For purposes of this section, “strangulation” and “suffocation” include impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a person by applying pressure on the throat or neck.”  People v. Gutierrez (1985) 171 Cal.App.3d 944, 952 [217 Cal.Rptr. 616]. []
  4. California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1): California’s Penal Code Section 243(e)(1): 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, fiance, or fiancee, 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. []
  5. Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.  It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage. Willfully Defined. Pen. Code, § 7, subd. 1; People v. Lara (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102, 107 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402]. []
  6. The slightest touching can be enough to commit a battery if it is done in a rude or angry way. Making contact with another person, including through his or her clothing, is enough. The touching does not have to cause pain or injury of any kind.  The touching can be done indirectly by causing an object or someone else to touch the other person.  Least Touching.  People v. Myers (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 328, 335 [71 Cal.Rptr.2d 518] [citing People v. Rocha (1971) 3 Cal.3d 893, 899–900, fn. 12 [92 Cal.Rptr. 172, 479 P.2d 372]]. []
  7. The term “cohabitants” means two unrelated persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of the relationship.  Factors that may determine whether people are cohabiting include, but are not limited to, (1) sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same residence, (2) sharing of income or expenses, (3) joint use or ownership of property, (4) the parties’ holding themselves out as (husband and wife/domestic partners), (5) the continuity of the relationship, and (6) the length of the relationship.  A person may cohabit simultaneously with two or more people at different locations, during the same time frame, if he or she maintains substantial ongoing relationships with each person and lives with each person for significant periods. Cohabitant Defined. People v. Holifield (1988) 205 Cal.App.3d 993, 1000 [252 Cal.Rptr. 729]; People v. Ballard (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 311, 318–319 [249 Cal.Rptr. 806]. []
  8. The term dating relationship means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement independent of financial considerations. Dating Relationship Defined. California Penal Code, § 243(f)(10): “Dating relationship” means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional or sexual involvement independent of financial considerations., CALCRIM 841 []
  9. A person is considered to be the mother or father of another person’s child if the alleged male parent is presumed under the law to be the natural father., CALCRIM 841 []
  10. CALCRIM 3470 []
  11. CALCRIM 841 []
  12. California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC []
  13. Penal Code 243(e)(2) PC []

Related Posts