Domestic Battery — Meaning, Laws, and Penalties in California

Domestic Battery — Meaning, Laws, and Penalties in California

Facing domestic battery charges can leave you feeling overwhelmed with the potential legal consequences — and rightly so. Penalties, ranging from hefty fines to jail time, can have profound implications in your personal and professional life.

To increase your chances of a successful defense against these charges, it’s important to get expert legal help as early as possible.

With 13 years of experience as a former Deputy District Attorney as well as Jury Trial experience in all sorts of misdemeanors and felonies — including domestic battery cases — Mariya Melkonyan will expertly and effectively defend you in court.

Call 424-901-3131 to schedule your no-obligation case review with Attorney Mariya Melkonyan today.

What Is “Domestic Battery,” According to California Penal Code 243(e)(1)?

Domestic battery, as defined by California Penal Code 243(e)(1), involves the following three elements:

  • Willful and unlawful touching
  • Harmful or offensive touching
  • Touching committed against an intimate partner

Additionally, a conviction can occur even without causing physical harm to the victim.

For example, let’s say a spouse angrily grabs the other’s arm forcefully, during a heated argument, causing them emotional distress. This could be considered domestic battery, since the act was willful and unlawful, caused emotional harm, and was committed against an intimate partner.

This offense is generally treated as a misdemeanor, but it can escalate to a felony under specific aggravating circumstances.

Even though the charge is serious, you can defend yourself with a sound legal strategy. An experienced defense attorney can help you get the best possible outcome for your case. Contact Attorney Mariya Melkonyan today to schedule your no-obligation case review.

Is Intentional Infliction of Corporal Injury the Same as Domestic Battery?

No, Intentional Infliction of Corporal Injury (CPC 273.5) and Domestic Battery (CPC 243(e)(1)) are separate legal offenses.

Intentional Infliction of Corporal Injury involves causing a visible injury to a spouse or cohabitant; while Domestic Battery entails willful and harmful touching against an intimate partner, even if there isn’t a visible injury.

Legally speaking, Intentional Infliction of Corporal Injury is typically treated as a felony, carrying more serious consequences. Domestic Battery is usually charged as a misdemeanor. Hence, why the penalties for Intentional Infliction of Corporal Injury are generally more severe.

What Are Examples of Domestic Battery Under CPC 243(e)(1)?

Here are three examples of domestic battery under CPC 243(e)(1):

Example 1: Emma and her boyfriend engage in a heated argument. As emotions escalate, Emma pushes her boyfriend forcefully. Despite not causing visible injuries, the act is willful and harmful, fulfilling the criteria for domestic battery.

Example 2: Liam grabs and forcefully rips his ex-wife’s shirt during a disagreement. Even though this action may not result in physical harm, the act was willful and harmful, falling under CPC 243(e)(1).

Example 3: Olivia discovers her significant other’s infidelity, leading to a confrontational situation. In the heat of the moment, Olivia slaps and scratches her partner. The resulting injuries are minor, but it can still be considered domestic battery.

These examples show that domestic battery covers various actions beyond severe physical harm, highlighting the nuanced nature of this offense.

While it might be hard for the average person to navigate, these nuances give an experienced attorney several avenues to argue your case — that’s why it’s so important to get competent legal representation.

Domestic Battery Laws in California

Domestic battery laws in California require specific elements to be proven in order to establish a case. Namely, it must be proven that:

  • The defendant willfully touched another person,
  • The touching was either harmful or offensive, and 
  • The person touched must be an intimate partner or a former intimate partner.

“Willfully” means the defendant acted on purpose or willingly — even if they didn’t intend to break the law or cause harm.

When it comes to “harmful” or “offensive” touching, it includes any disrespectful or angry physical contact, and it doesn’t hinge on causing pain, bodily harm, or disfigurement. 

Actual injury or the involvement of deadly weapons or strangulation isn’t necessary for a conviction; rather, it’s based on the defendant’s use of force in an angry manner.

An “intimate partner” extends to various relationships, such as: 

  • A spouse or former spouse
  • Someone living or who lived with the accused as an intimate household member
  • A fiancé or fiancée
  • A parent of the defendant’s child
  • Someone the defendant is dating or has previously dated

While certain relationships, like spouses and fiancés, are easily proven in domestic battery cases, challenges may arise in establishing cohabitation or dating relationships.

In these instances, the court thoroughly examines and analyzes the facts to determine the nature of the relationship in question.

The prosecution has to prove all these elements to convict you — this gives a skilled defense attorney several ways to argue your case.

With 13 years of experience as a former Deputy District Attorney, Attorney Mariya Melkonyan can expertly help you fight these charges. Schedule your no-obligation case review today.

Domestic Battery — Misdemeanor or Felony?

Is domestic battery a felony in California? Well, usually it’s considered a misdemeanor offense, meaning it’s treated less severely than felonies.

However, there are situations where domestic battery can be elevated to a felony. This happens when certain factors come into play, like previous convictions or additional aggravating circumstances.

What Are the Penalties for Domestic Battery in California?

In California, domestic battery is typically charged as a misdemeanor, which means it’s a less severe offense. If convicted, individuals may face penalties such as: 

  • Imprisonment in county jail for a maximum of one year
  • A fine up to of $2,000

It’s common for defendants in domestic battery cases to receive probation, which is a suspended sentence that allows them to avoid jail time if certain conditions are met.

Another requirement often imposed is the completion of a minimum one-year batterer’s treatment program, aimed at addressing and preventing future incidents of domestic violence.

In certain cases, instead of the standard $2,000 fine, the court may order the defendant to pay up to $5,000. This money goes to a battered women’s shelter and covers any reasonable expenses incurred by the victim, including counseling costs.

Prosecutors normally push for the highest penalties possible, even if the facts don’t fully justify that. An experienced domestic violence attorney will present the circumstances of your case, so nothing is overlooked.

This way, you might be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. Consult with an experienced attorney to get the best chance of a favorable outcome for your case.

Will a Conviction Lead to the Loss of Gun Rights?

Yes, a conviction under CPC 243(e)(1) will lead to the loss of gun rights — typically, for 10 years.

Other Consequences of a Conviction — Child Abuse Charges

Domestic battery doesn’t just impact those directly involved; it also affects children within the household.

When domestic battery occurs, especially if it jeopardizes the well-being of the children, Child Protective Services (CPS) may intervene. This involvement could lead to child abuse charges when domestic battery happens in the presence of children.

CPS takes the safety of children seriously and will conduct an investigation to assess the home environment. Depending on their findings, various consequences may be implemented, including:

  • Developing safety plans to protect the children
  • Temporary or permanent removal of the children from the home
  • Court-mandated parenting classes for the involved parties
  • Supervised visitation arrangements
  • Ongoing monitoring to ensure the safety and well-being of the children

Child abuse is a very serious offense. In addition to potentially losing your children, you can be sentenced to two, four, or six years in state prison, up to $6,000 in fines, or both. And, if you have two prior felony convictions, a child abuse conviction may land you a 25-year-to-life sentence.

If the incident that led to domestic battery charges took place in front of children, seek expert legal help immediately. Call 424-901-3131 or email maryia@melkonyanfirm.com to schedule your no-obligation, free case review with Attorney Mariya Melkonyan.

What Happens if the Accuser Doesn’t Show Up to Court?

If the person accusing someone of domestic battery doesn’t show up to court, it doesn’t automatically mean the case will be dismissed.

However, this non-appearance weakens the case, causing delays and making it harder for the prosecution to present important evidence.

When the accuser doesn’t appear, the hearsay rule may come into play. In simple terms, the hearsay rule dictates that what people say outside the courtroom can’t be used in a trial. Refusing to cooperate can significantly hinder the prosecution’s ability to prove the case.

While the accuser typically won’t be arrested for not showing up, they may receive a legal order called a subpoena.  Although the accuser may not face consequences often, ignoring a subpoena could result in fines or other penalties.

Legal Defenses to Domestic Battery Charges in California

Legal defenses play a crucial role in challenging accusations and possibly reducing or dismissing domestic battery charges in California.

The four most common defenses include:

  • Arguing that the accused didn’t act willfully, challenging the claim of intentional and deliberate actions
  • Questioning whether the incident involved an “intimate partner,” challenging the applicability of domestic violence laws
  • Alleging police officer misconduct, suggesting improper actions or procedural errors during the arrest or investigation, which may impact the validity of the charges
  • Arguing the defendant acted in self-defense, which is a recognized defense under California law

However, proving someone acted in self-defense isn’t always easy. To prove it successfully, the defendant needs to establish the following:

  • A genuine belief that they were facing an immediate threat of bodily harm or unlawful touching
  • Using force was necessary to protect themselves against the perceived threat
  • The level of force used was not excessive and proportional to the perceived threat

Facing Domestic Battery Charges? An Expert Defense Attorney Will Fight for You

Domestic battery charges are complex and can lead to serious penalties, including imprisonment and paying up to $5,000 in fines.

Fortunately, there are several defense strategies to domestic battery charges. To increase the chance of a successful defense, seek help from a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible.

With 13 years of experience as a former Deputy District Attorney, Attorney Maryia Melkonyan will use her expertise in domestic battery cases to fight for you and ensure no stone is left unturned.  Schedule your free, no-obligation case review today.

Frequently Asked Questions

During your free initial consultation, your attorney will discuss the facts of your case, getting a clear overview of your situation. Your attorney will then explain the process, letting you know what will be expected of you and the support and services they will offer.

Your attorney will then guide you on how to proceed and begin collecting potential witness details to support your case and evidence for preservation, proper representation, and preparation. Finally, we will explain our fees, take you through our retainer form, and answer any queries you have.

To give Mariya a clear view of your case, you must provide them with as many details and as much evidence about your case as possible. This may include documentation, videos, audio files, witness names, time logs on any information related to the case for review. The more details and evidence you can provide, the better case your attorney can build right from the start.

Some clients are concerned about revealing too much to a lawyer in an initial consultation, but your meetings with an attorney are confidential and protected by client/attorney privilege.

After your initial consultation, we’ll be able to determine a retainer fee and discuss payment options. In most cases, the retainer feee payments are divided into two parts; the first is typically payable upfront.

There are various options for paying your retainer fee, including cash, check, or card.

There is no one-size-fits-all cost for an attorney to defend your criminal case. The fee depends on the charges against you and the details of your specific case. As a rule, open misdemeanor cases tend to be charged at a lower fee than open felony cases. Post-conviction legal services, such as expungement of criminal records, are usually even less expensive.

The final fee depends on the complexity of your case. During your consultation, the attorney will discuss the fees with you. The more details you can give about your case, the more accurate expectations your attorney can set. Contact Mariya today for a no-obligation case review.

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      During your free initial consultation, your attorney will discuss the facts of your case, getting a clear overview of your situation. Your attorney will then explain the process, letting you know what will be expected of you and the support and services they will offer.

      Your attorney will then guide you on how to proceed and begin collecting potential witness details to support your case and evidence for preservation, proper representation, and preparation. Finally, we will explain our fees, take you through our retainer form, and answer any queries you have.

      To give Mariya a clear view of your case, you must provide them with as many details and as much evidence about your case as possible. This may include documentation, videos, audio files, witness names, time logs on any information related to the case for review. The more details and evidence you can provide, the better case your attorney can build right from the start.

      Some clients are concerned about revealing too much to a lawyer in an initial consultation, but your meetings with an attorney are confidential and protected by client/attorney privilege.

      After your initial consultation, we’ll be able to determine a retainer fee and discuss payment options. In most cases, the retainer feee payments are divided into two parts; the first is typically payable upfront.

      There are various options for paying your retainer fee, including cash, check, or card.

      There is no one-size-fits-all cost for an attorney to defend your criminal case. The fee depends on the charges against you and the details of your specific case. As a rule, open misdemeanor cases tend to be charged at a lower fee than open felony cases. Post-conviction legal services, such as expungement of criminal records, are usually even less expensive.

      The final fee depends on the complexity of your case. During your consultation, the attorney will discuss the fees with you. The more details you can give about your case, the more accurate expectations your attorney can set. Contact Mariya today for a no-obligation case review.