What are the Legal Defenses to PC 273.5(a)?

January 21, 2023

Penal Code 273.5(a) makes it a crime to inflict corporal injury on an intimate partner. The punishment for violating this law can range from probation to four years in prison, depending on the circumstances of the case. However, there are several legal defenses that a defendant can raise in order to avoid conviction under this statute.

It is important to note that these defenses are not mutually exclusive and can be used in combination depending on the specific case. It is also important to consult with a criminal defense attorney who can help evaluate the specific facts of the case and determine the best defense strategy


Self-defense applies when the defendant used force against the alleged victim because they reasonably believed that they were in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm. In order to successfully raise this defense, the defendant must show that the force used was necessary to prevent harm and that the force used was proportional to the perceived threat.

Falsely Accused

This can happen in situations where the alleged victim has the motive to make false allegations, such as in the context of a custody dispute or a bitter breakup. In order to raise this defense, the defendant will need to present evidence to support their claim, such as witness testimony or text messages that suggest that the alleged victim was lying.


This defense applies when the defendant broke the law in order to prevent greater harm from occurring. For example, if a defendant used force against their partner because they believed that their partner was about to commit suicide, they could potentially raise the defense of necessity.

Mental Disorder

This defense can apply when the defendant’s mental disorder caused them to be unable to understand the nature of their actions or to control their behavior. In order to raise this defense, the defendant will need to present expert testimony from a mental health professional who can attest to their condition.


This defense applies when the defendant was forced to commit the crime by another person who threatened to cause them harm. In order to raise this defense, the defendant will need to show that they had a reasonable fear of harm and that they had no reasonable way to escape the situation.

Contact an Experienced Domestic Violence Attorney in Southern California

PC 273.5(a) accusations are a serious matter, and anyone facing domestic violence charges should seek the advice of an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can help you understand your rights, evaluate the strength of the case against you, and develop a strategy for challenging the charges. Give the Law Offices of John D. Rogers a call today to schedule a free confidential consultation.

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