Domestic Battery Defense Lawyer | California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC
Domestic battery, also known as “spousal battery” is charged under California Penal Code 243(e)(1). The charge is relatively the same as simple battery only carried out against your spouse, cohabitant, parent, relationship partner, or someone you previously had a dating relationship with. Domestic battery is a misdemeanor offense carrying severe penalties, often requiring probation and jail time. And contrary to popular belief, domestic battery does not require another to suffer any major injury. In other words, simply unlawfully touching someone in an offensive manner will suffice for the prosecutor to charge you under this statute.
Just because the alleged victim “does not wish to press charges” does not mean the case will be dropped. The decision to file charges or maintain charges lies within the sole discretion of the prosecuting agency. However, the alleged victim’s unwillingness to testify or press charges may help when negotiating a disposition in your case. Furthermore, the judge will impose a protective order barring you from contacting the alleged victim until the conclusion of the case.
You may find the following article helpful as it will address 9 important things you should know about Domestic Battery charges.
1. What must the Prosecutor Prove for Domestic Battery?
According to CALCRIM 841, in order for you to be found guilty of domestic battery under PC 243(e)(1), the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. You willfully and unlawfully touched the other person in a harmful or offensive manner;
2. The other person was your spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, dating partner, or mother / father of your child;
3. You were not acting in self-defense.
2. What is the Punishment for Domestic Battery?
• Up to 1 year in the county jail
• Anger Management
• Up to $2,000 in fines & fees
• 52 Weeks of Domestic Violence Offender Counseling
• Three years of Probation
• Community Service or Labor
• Payment of Restitution for Injuries
• Stay away / Protective Order
3. What are the Legal Defenses to Domestic Battery?
I. Willful Conduct
You did not act willfully to carry out the battery. Instead, the act was done on accident. For instance, you may have tripped and grabbed your partner to maintain your balance and as a result, they fell to the floor causing minor injury. Willful conduct means you acted with a specific purpose. Thus, if you did not act willfully, then you will not be guilty of this offense.
You had consent from your accuser to touch them in the manner in which you did. For example, you both could have been wrestling in the front room and the fact that you grabbed your partner in a manner in which you did was implied. In other words, you both often engage in this playful conduct.
III. Offensive Contact
The manner in which you touch your accuser is not considered objectively harmful or offensive. In other words, a reasonable person would not be offended in the manner in which you touched your accuser.
IV. No Relationship
You did not have any relationship (personal or family) affiliation with your accuser. The government must prove you harbored some personal relationship with your accuser. Therefore, if your accuser was merely a friend and nothing more, then you cannot be found guilty of this offense.
You were acting in self-defense against your accuser. You’re acting in self-defense when you’re protecting yourself or someone else from harm. For example, your accuser could have initiated the altercation by coming towards you in an assaultive manner with an object in their hand. Just because your accuser is a female, and you’re a male, does not bar the defense of self-defense.
VI. False Accusations
Your accuser is fabricating or exaggerating the circumstances for known or unknown reasons. Perhaps you accuser is upset over your relationship, unpaid rent, or is seeking revenge. This defense is also common among spouses seeking a divorce while attempting to gain full custody of the children in convincing the family law court you’re unstable or physically aggressive.
VII. Miranda Rights Violation
Your incriminating statements were illegally obtain in violation of your Miranda rights. The government may be relying on your incriminating statements to prove the above-given elements or negate a self-defense claim. If you were subject to custodial interrogation and you were not admonished of your Miranda rights or perhaps you were coerced into giving a statement, then the court will order your statements suppressed preventing the government from using your statements against you.
VIII. Illegal Search & Seizure
The physical evidence was illegally obtained in violation of your search and seizure rights under the Fourth Amendment. Physical evidence may be a weapon, photographs, or even text messages. If the police unlawfully obtained the physical evidence against you, the judge will order the suppression of the physical evidence. As a result, the case could be dismissed or your case may become even more challenging for the government to prove.
4. Early Mitigation Package
Just because you’ve been arrested does not mean you’ve been formally charged with a crime. Instead, the prosecuting agency makes this determination. After your arrest, the police forward their report(s) to the prosecuting agency for review. The filing prosecutor will then decide whether or not formal charges should be filed against you.
Because domestic violence accusations can be fabricated by your accuser, or perhaps substantially exaggerated, it may be appropriate to submit a mitigation package to the filing prosecutor in an effort to avoid charges from ever being filed against you. For instance, Mr. Rogers will submit character letters, additional witness statements, evidence of your accuser’s bad character or history of lying, and perhaps your side of the story. This ensures that the filing prosecutor will consider all the evidence in the case versus the police officer’s one-sided opinion favoring your guilt. Time is of the essence when taking this approach, thus contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers at the cases earliest juncture.
5. Police Contact
Law enforcement will always attempt to talk to you regarding your suspected crime. In most instances, they come across as friendly and ask that they get “your side of the story.” This approach is nothing more than a “friendly” effort to gain incriminating evidence against you. Chances are, nothing you say will ever help you or cause the case to go away. If a police officer or a detective requests to speak with you, politely decline giving a statement and demand the presence of an attorney before answering any questions.
6. Evidence in Your Defense
• Have a third party photograph all your cuts, bruises, or markings ASAP.
• Obtain all text messages and cellular phone call details from your carrier
• Obtain all facebook or all social media private messages
• Witnesses who can attest to the alleged victim’s prior violent behavior
• All evidence tending to show the accuser’s motivation to lie
• Evidence of the accuser’s mental disorder or substance abuse
• Affidavits of the accuser’s statements to the court in a restraining order hearing
7. Domestic Battery Expungement
If you suffer from a conviction for Domestic Battery under PC 243(e)(1), you may be eligible to expunge your record under California’s dismissal statute (PC 1203.4). The process requires a specific petition to be filed with the court. However, prior to submitting your petition, you must not be on probation for any offense and have no cases pending against you. If your expungement petition is granted, the court will withdraw its finding of guilt, enter a not guilty plea, and dismiss the case. From that point forward, you will be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from your conviction. For more information about expunging your record, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers.
8. What are Examples of Domestic Battery?
• Punching or slapping your roommate in the face.
• Pushing your girlfriend/boyfriend against the wall after a verbal argument.
• Pulling your spouse’s hair.
• Grabbing your fiance’s arm during an argument.
9. Criminal Defense Lawyer for Domestic Battery
For a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses to PC 243(e)(1) charges, contact an experienced Orange County Domestic Violence Lawyer at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers.