California “Domestic Battery” Laws | Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC

January 14, 2018

In California, domestic battery is charged under Penal Code 243(e)(1) pc[1] making it unlawful to physically touch another person in a harmful or offensive manner. It does not require an actual or visible injury. The crime is accomplished by a rude or offensive touch without consent. Domestic battery is a priorable offense, which means the penalties become harsher for those with a prior domestic violence conviction.

Some examples of PC 243(e)(1) include:

  • Pulling your roommate’s shirt
  • Grabbing your wife’s arm without her consent
  • Pushing your boyfriend against the wall and slapping him

Domestic battery is categorized as a domestic violence offense because it’s carried out against someone personal. This includes:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Current or former dating partner
  • Current or former cohabitant
  • Fellow Parent of Mutual Child
  • Fiancé or fiancée

The fact that the alleged victim does not wish to press charges is not a dispositive factor in the case. The prosecution may continue prosecuting a defendant regardless of the alleged victim’s desire.

What Is The Prosecutor Required To Prove?

Under CALCRIM 841, to prove someone is guilty of PC 243(e)(1), the prosecutor is required to prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You willfully and unlawfully touched another person in a harmful or offensive manner;
  2. The other person is [your spouse, former spouse, fiancé, fiancée, cohabitant, parent of your child, or dating partner];
  3. You were not acting in self-defense or defending someone else.[2]

What are the Legal Defenses to Penal Code 243(e)(1) pc?


PC 243(e)(1) requires that you commit an act on purpose. Accordingly, if you cause an injury based on an accident or through misfortune, then no crime has been committed. Moreover, acting willfully is not the same as a negligent act.


You may use reasonable force to prevent injury to yourself or another. It is applicable regardless of your accuser’s size or sex. There is no legal requirement for you to retreat when faced with a threat of force. Thus, you may freely stand your ground to defend yourself or another from harm.


The credibility of your accuser could be the heart of the charges. Many criminal cases are based solely on one witness making a single observation without any corroborating evidence. Your accuser could have a history of making a false accusation or perhaps has a violent character trait.

False Accusation

It is not uncommon for someone to be falsely accused of a domestic violence act. False accusations are typically motivated by obtaining child custody, financial gain, or just personal revenge. It’s very simple for an alleged victim to fabricate charges and leverage the criminal justice system against an innocent person. We do not tolerate such reprehensible conduct and we stand prepared to defend anyone who is being held liable under fabricated circumstances.

Punishment & Sentencing

Penal code 243(e)(1) is punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail and a fine not exceeding $2,000 even for a first-time offender. Other conviction consequences may include:

  • Adverse immigration consequences for non-U.S. citizens
  • Affect occupational or professional licensing
  • Lifetime ban on owning or possessing a firearm
  • Paying restitution for any economic losses
  • Completing a 52-week domestic violence counseling course
  • Criminal protective order barring all contact with your accuser

What Are Examples Of California Domestic Battery – PC 243(e)(1)?

  • Dan got into an argument with his girlfriend as he was beginning to leave. As he turned around to face his girlfriend, Dan’s hand struck her in the nose, breaking it. When the police arrived, Dan’s girlfriend said that it “may have happened on accident.” Dan was arrested for domestic battery. Here, Dan will claim that he struck his girlfriend’s nose on accident. Because Dan did not act intentionally, but with criminal negligence, it would not support a conviction from PC 243(e)(1).[3]
  • John was having an argument with his brother. His brother began approaching John with a quenched fist and ready to punch John. Before his brother could throw a punch, John pushed his brother who then fell to the ground. The fight immediately ended. When the police arrived, they arrested John after John admitted that he pushed his brother. Here, John’s defense lawyer would argue that John is not guilty of domestic battery because he was acting in self-defense. Moreover, John’s brother was approaching in an aggressive manner and John responded with reasonable force to protect himself.
  • Dave and his roommate were having an argument over late rent. His roommate grabbed a knife and proceeded toward Dave. Dave deflected the knife and tackled his roommate to the ground. A neighbor heard arguing and called the police. Dave’s roommate told the police that Dave attacked him for no reason. Here, Dave’s lawyer conducted an investigation on Dave’s roommate and discovered that Dave’s roommate had attacked two other people with a knife 2 years prior. Dave’s lawyer can use this evidence to show that Dave’s roommate has a violet propensity to support Dave’s self-defense claim.

What Are The Related Offenses?

Contact Us To Schedule A Risk-Free Consultation

If you’ve been arrested, or are under investigation for domestic battery under Penal Code 243(e)(1) pc, contact a Newport Beach domestic violence lawyer at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses. Never believe that you are guilty simply because you were arrested. Early intervention by an experienced attorney can mean the difference of spending time in jail or having the case rejected entirely from prosecution.

Criminal defense attorney John D. Rogers is a board-certified criminal law specialist. A prestigious distinction that less than 2% of California’s criminal defense lawyers have achieved. He has unmatched success in defending his client in all types of domestic violence cases, especially when his clients are faced with a “must-win” dilemma. He aims to dismiss the case or obtain an acquittal at trial.

Legal Footnotes:

[1] Penal Code 243(e)(1) defined: “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, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, 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 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 Section 1203.097, or if none is available, another appropriate counseling program designated by the court. However, this provision shall not be construed as requiring a city, a county, or a city and county to provide a new program or higher level of service as contemplated by Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.”

[2] See CALCRIM No. 841.

[3] See People v. Lara (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102 stands for the proposition that a defendants criminal negligent conduct will not suffice to support a conviction for battery. There, the defendant and his girlfriend had argued, and the defendant had begun to leave.  As the defendant turned around to face his girlfriend, his hand struck his girlfriend’s nose, breaking it. The girlfriend later gave a statement and testified that the defendant had possibly hit her by accident. As a long standing rule, battery is a general intent crime which is not accomplished when a defendant has a lesser state of mind – i.e., “criminal negligence.” Furthermore, the court reiterated that even “reckless” conduct alone does not constitute a sufficient basis for battery. Therefore, because the defendant did not act intentionally but with criminal negligence, the court found that it does not suffice to warrant a conviction for battery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

9 − = three

In the Media
abc 7 kcal 2 kcal 9 LA Weekly Los Angeles Times NBC

Contact Us For A Free Case Evaluation

(949) 625-4487
4000 MacArthur Blvd. East Tower Suite 615 Newport Beach, CA 92660

Contact Us

24 Hour Response Time