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California Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Law: Penal Code 243(e)(1)

California Domestic Battery Law, Penal Code Section 243(e)(1)

"Domestic battery" also referred to as "spousal battery" and "spousal assault" is charged under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) and is the most common misdemeanor offense pertaining to domestic violence allegations. If you have been charged with domestic battery under PC 243(e)(1), the law office of Daniel E. Kann can help you understand these charges and help defend you against the domestic violence allegations.

Domestic Violence Charges We Handle Include:

What must the prosecution show to convict someone of domestic battery under California Penal Code 243(e)(1)?

In ordered to be convicted of a Domestic Battery Charge, the prosecution must prove that you willfully inflicted unlawful force or violence upon your intimate partner.1

What is an intimate partner under PC 243(e)(1)

An intimate partner includes a homosexual or heterosexual person who is one of the following:

  1. your current or former spouse,
  2. your fiance or fiancee,
  3. a co-parent of your child,
  4. a person that you have or a had a dating relationship,
  5. a person with whom you live.2

What is "unlawful use of force or violence"?

"Unlawful use of force or violence" refers to any illegal physical contact inflicted upon your intimate partner. The prosecution does not have to show you caused pain or harm to your intimate partner. They only have to show that the physical contact was made out of anger or disrespect.3

What is "upon" the person?

Upon means to touch your intimate partner's body, clothing or something closely attached to or closely connected to your intimate partner.4 This can include touching the intimate partner's hat, purse, knocking something out of your partner's hand, or smashing their windshield as they drive away from you.

What is willful?

"Willful" means that you intended to do the act, to make the unwanted physical touching/contact. It does not mean that the prosecution has to prove that you intended to harm your intimate partner or you intended to commit a crime.5

If the prosecutor cannot prove the elements of 243(e)(1) can a person still be charged with a crime?

Yes, the crime of assault6 and battery7 can still be charged. These crimes are lesser included offenses.8 For instance if you attempt to strike your intimate partner but they are able to run away before you come into contact with them, you could still face assault charges.9 If the prosecution can't show that the person you struck is your intimate partner, but can demonstrate that you willfully used unlawful force or violence upon another person, you could be subject to battery charges.10

What is the punishment if a person is convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery?

If convicted of domestic battery under PC 243(e)(1) you could face the following penalties:

  1. Up to $2,000 in fines;
  2. Up to one year in county jail;11
  3. Informal probation∗ for up to three years.
    ∗ If probation is granted, the court will require you to complete a one year batterer's treatment program.12

How can the Law Offices of Daniel E. Kann fight a PC 243(e)(1) domestic battery charge?

A skillful Santa Clarita criminal lawyer can defend the charge of domestic battery in the following ways:

Self Defense

Under California law, self defense is a defense to domestic battery. If you have a reasonable belief that you or someone else will suffer serious harm from your intimate partner if you don't fight back, then you may be able to assert self defense.


If the unwanted physical contact was an accident then it is a defense to the crime of domestic battery. When there is no will or purpose to create an unwanted harmful contact then there is no crime.

False Allegations

People often falsely accuse their intimate partners of domestic battery. Intimate partners involved in a passionate argument may falsely accuse one another of battery out of anger or to get the upper hand in an argument. If you have been falsely accused our firm will ask questions and investigate the facts to demonstrate to the prosecutor that you have been falsely accused.

Domestic Battery under PC 243(e)(1) is a misdemeanor and is the least serious charge under California's domestic violence laws. If you create an unwanted physical contact with your intimate partner and your partner is injured, the prosecution can file charges against you under PC 243(e)(1) or it can proceed under more serious laws such as Penal Code 243(d) aggravated battery, or Penal Code 273.5, intentional infliction of corporal injury which can be felonies depending on the extent of the accuser's injuries.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Domestic Battery please contact the Law Offices of Daniel E. Kann at (888) 744-7730 to discuss your case, your rights, and whether your case can be dismissed.

1California Penal Code 243(e)(1) states, "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 whom the defendant currently has or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable...." A battery is defined under California Penal Code 242 as "...any willful and unlawful use of force or violence up the person of another."

2See PC 243(e)(1), footnote 1 above.

3See Judicial Council of California Jury Instruction 841. Simple Battery: Against Spouse, Cohabitant, or Fellow Parent (Pen. Code, § 243(e)(1)) "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."

4See Judicial Council of California Jury Instruction 841. Simple Battery: Against Spouse, Cohabitant, or Fellow Parent (Pen. Code, § 243(e)(1)) "The touching can be done indirectly by causing an object [or someone else] to touch the other person."

5Judicial Council of California Jury Instruction 841. Simple Battery: Against Spouse, Cohabitant, or Fellow Parent (Pen. Code, § 243(e)(1)) ("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.)

6California Penal Code 240 states that "[a]n assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability to commit a violent injury on the person of another."

7California Penal Code 242 states "[a] battery is any willful and unlawful use of force upon the person of a another."

8A lesser included offense is a less serious crime where the elements necessary for conviction are contained within the elements of a more serious crime.

9See footnote 6 above.

10See footnote 7 above.

11California Penal Code 243(e)(1) provides the following "...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 sent

12Penal Code 243(e)(1) further provides that if probation is granted "...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..."