Are you facing criminal charges of domestic battery in violation of California Penal Code Section 243(e)?
The most common type of domestic violence related charges in Los Angeles County is domestic battery, which is defined in California Penal Code Section 243(e). It's commonly known as simple domestic battery and is the less serious form of violence inflicted on an intimate partner. Other common names include spousal battery or spousal abuse. The more serious domestic violence offense is Corporal Injury on a Spouse, which is defined under California Penal Code Section 273.5. A general description of Penal Code Section 243(e) is when a person willfully and unlawfully uses force or violence on an intimate partner. By law, an intimate partner can be your present or ex spouse, fiancé, someone who is a cohabitant, or the other parent of your child. It's important to note that the victim does not have to sustain visible injuries in order to be charged with domestic battery. In fact, it's not uncommon in Los Angeles County to be arrested for domestic battery if you use any type of force, no matter how slight. Again, evidence of visible injuries is not required to be arrested by the police. Many domestic violence related incidents will typically result in an automatic arrest with almost no evidence proving guilt. Additionally, it's not uncommon for defendant's to be convicted of domestic battery charges when the victim was not injured.
This crime is normally considered a lesser offense to corporal injury to a spouse defined under California Penal Code 273.5. Under PC 243(e), you can be arrested for domestic battery even in a situation where you used any type of force, even if it was slight. It does not require evidence of visible injuries.
After your arrest for domestic battery, your criminal case will typically be assigned to a police detective, who is responsible for interviewing the alleged victim and collecting supplemental statements. Therefore, if you are contacted by law enforcement, you need to politely decline to make any statements as you may incriminate yourself. Contact a Los Angeles domestic violence attorney at Eisner Gorin LLP to review the details and legal options moving forward. Let's take a closer look at some legal definitions, penalties, and potential defenses below.
What is the legal definition of domestic battery?
Under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1), the legal definition of domestic battery is as follows:
Can the victim drop the domestic battery charges?
This is by far the most common question about domestic battery charges. It's critical to stop and note here that alleged victims of domestic battery can't drop the charges. The simple answer is NO. After the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office decides to file domestic violence charges, the victim has no legal authority to drop the charges. In basic terms, it's not the victim's decision to make. Any decisions on domestic violence charges are controlled by the prosecutor assigned to the case. They make the final decision whether or not to drop the charges. Frequently, an alleged victim will change their story. In most cases, the prosecutor will not believe the their new version of events.
What are the elements of the crime?
In order to obtain a conviction, the Los Angeles County prosecutor has to be able to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that you willfully inflicted force or violence upon an intimate partner. Understanding what elements of the crime that the prosecutor has to prove is critical to your legal defense. Willfully means it was deliberate, or on purpose. This means you can't be guilty of domestic battery if you accidentally hurt your partner. Using force or violence means you had to physically touch your intimate partner. Keep in mind that even a soft touch could qualify as force or violence. Finally, the last element of the crime states the act has to be against your intimate partner. This could include your current or former spouse or fiancé, current or former cohabitant, the mother or father of your child, or former cohabitant, or an individual with whom you have, or used to have a dating relationship. Contact a Los Angeles domestic violence lawyer at our law firm for more detailed information.
What is a domestic violence restraining order?
After your arrest for domestic battery, police will typically issue a restraining order or emergency protective order. This prohibits you from communicating with the victim. If you violate the restraining order, it's a misdemeanor crime and will make your legal defense more complicated. In many cases, an emergency protective order will be issued even if the victim doesn't want it. Any restraining order modifications might be possible with the legal assistance from an attorney at our office, but would require cooperation from the victim.
What are the legal penalties?
If you are convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery, you could face the following legal penalties:
- Up to 1 year in a Los Angeles County jail
- A maximum fine of $2,000
- Up to 3 years of informal probation
- Required participation in a 52 week batter's program
It's important to note that the terms of your informal probation will normally require successful completion of a one year batterer's treatment program. Also, if you are granted probation, you will probably be required to pay any expenses that the victim occurred as a result of the domestic battery offense, such as counseling. Finally, a conviction for domestic battery could have immigration consequences on undocumented immigrants. Domestic battery is a deportable crime under federal immigration laws.
What are the legal defenses?
Our Los Angeles domestic violence attorneys will thoroughly review the facts and circumstances of your domestic battery case in order to develop a defense strategy. There is a wide range of potential legal defenses we could use on your behalf. These defenses include:
False accusation – due to the nature of domestic abuse charges, it's not uncommon for a spouse to be falsely accused and wrongfully arrested. In some case, our lawyers might be able to show the allegations came from a spouse looking for revenge after the relationship was ending. In other cases, false allegations were the result of jealously, or an attempt to gain an advantage in a child custody battle with their spouse.
Self defense – another common defense is that you were only acting in self-defense. Under California law, you are allowed to defend yourself if you had a reasonable belief you would suffer a serious injury. Our criminal lawyers might be able to show you used the least amount of force necessary to protect yourself. This simply means you had a legal right to use immediate force to defend yourself, and you did not use more force than necessary.
Accident – in some cases, if we can show the force or violence you inflicted upon the victim was an accident, then you can't be convicted of domestic battery. As stated above in the elements of the crime, the act has to willful, meaning it was on purpose. We might be able to prove the force you inflicted upon the victim was not willful, malicious, or on purpose. If successful, you can't be convicted of violating California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1).
Contact a Los Angeles Domestic Battery Lawyer
If you have been charged with domestic battery, it's important to review your case with a Los Angeles domestic violence attorney at Eisner Gorin LLP. We are dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcome on your case. We are experienced courtroom negotiators and may be able to prevent the formal filing of criminal charges through pre-filing intervention defense. The first step is to allow our attorneys to review the specific details of you case. We offer a free immediate response. Call our law firm at 877-781-1570.