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Understanding California’s Domestic Battery Law

Posted by Dan Kann | Nov 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

February 10, 2014

Domestic battery, which is also commonly referred to as spousal battery or spousal assault, is a crime. It is one of the most common misdemeanor offenses related to domestic violence. Allegations of spousal battery are serious because a conviction can result in up to $2,000 in fines, up to a year in county jail, and informal probation for up to three years if you are convicted of misdemeanor spousal battery under Penal Code Sections 243(e)(1) or 273.5. Spousal Abuse under Penal Code Section 273.5 can also be charged as a felony. If you are convicted of felony Spousal Abuse you can face up to one year in county jail or 2 years, 3 years, or 4 years in state prison. Furthermore, a conviction will result in the creation of a criminal record that can have long lasting social and professional consequences for defendants.

Being charged with domestic battery under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) does not guarantee a conviction. You have the right to a fair and speedy trial. During the trial, the prosecution will have to prove that you willfully inflicted unlawful force or violence against your partner in order to obtain a conviction.

Your “partner,” under the law, could be your former or current spouse, your fiancée, the co-parent of your child, someone you have dated, or someone with whom you live. “Unlawful use of force or violence” under this law could include any illegal physical contact inflicted upon your partner. The prosecution will not have to prove that you caused pain or injury. They will only have to show that the physical contact was made and that the act of violence was willful.

Under California law, “willful” means that the defendant intended to commit the act. The prosecution will have to prove that the defendant deliberately made the illegal physical contact. “Willful” does not, however, mean that you intended to cause harm or to commit a crime. It only means that you purposely made physical contact.

It is important to remember that you can be charged with a crime even if the prosecution cannot prove every element of Penal Code 243(e)(1). For example, if your partner was able to escape physical contact, you can still face lesser assault charges. If the prosecution cannot prove that the alleged victim was an intimate partner, you can still face battery charges. There are many variables involved in these types of cases. Please contact an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who will help you craft a solid defense strategy and ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.

About the Author

Dan Kann

Daniel E. Kann has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to defending individuals facing criminal prosecution in Southern California. Dan fights criminal cases throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.


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