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Bay Area Criminal Lawyers, PC team

Domestic Violence

Under California’s domestic violence law, Penal Code § 243(e)(1), domestic battery is any willful and unlawful touching that is harmful or offensive, 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.

A defendant can be convicted of domestic battery, even without the victim sustaining an injury. California Criminal Jury Instructions § 841 warns that the slightest touching can be enough to commit battery if done in a rude or angry way. If you touch another person through his or her clothing, the contact alone can be considered battery. The touching does not have to cause the victim any pain or injury to be considered a battery.

To prove that someone is guilty of domestic battery, the People must prove: The defendant willfully and unlawfully touched the victim in a harmful or offensive matter, and the victim is the defendant’s former spouse/cohabitant/fiancé/fiancée/ person with whom the defendant currently has, or previously had a dating or engagement relationship/mother or father of the defendant’s child, and the defendant did not act in self defense or in the defense of someone else.

Domestic battery is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a country jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment, according to Penal Code §243(e)(1). 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 §1203.097 of the Penal Code, or if none is available, another appropriate counseling program designated by the court.

Domestic battery is a different and separate offense from corporal injury on a spouse, cohabitant, or fellow parent, where the victim must sustain an injury for the defendant to be charged with this offense. Penal Code § 273.5, states that any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim (offender’s spouse/former spouse, offender’s cohabitant/former cohabitant, offender’s fiancé/fiancée, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship, the mother or father of the offender’s child) is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by both the fine and imprisonment.

If the alleged victim of domestic violence does not press charges, California law enforcement agencies have the right to go forward and press charges. Prosecutors can charge domestic violence as a misdemeanor or felony offense. Penalties and punishments can vary depending upon the facts surrounding your case, past criminal history, severity of the injury sustained, and more. No matter what your circumstances are, contact Bay Area Criminal Lawyers, PC, to speak with a qualified attorney, familiar with domestic violence cases and defenses. Call us today so we can work with you to secure a positive outcome.


The information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be taken, as legal advice. The information may or may not apply to your case or situation. Please do not rely on any information on this website as legal advice from an attorney because it is not legal advice. Please contact us if you have any questions, and we will be happy to have one of our lawyers talk to you. Any preliminary consultation between you and a lawyer from our firm is covered by the attorney-client privilege.



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