The most common offense related to allegations of domestic violence, especially when charged as a misdemeanor, is a domestic battery under California Penal Code § 243(e)(1). Battery involves the willful or intentional touching of another person in a harmful or offensive manner. What is harmful and offensive touching for purposes of domestic battery? Domestic battery only requires harmful or offensive touching while domestic violence under California Penal Code § 273.5 requires that the victim suffer some injury.
The California Legislature has enacted special code sections for domestic violence crimes based on the legislature’s declaration that these offenses merit special consideration based on society’s condemnation of violence committed against victims by someone with whom the offender has an intimate relationship. These special code sections carry sentencing provisions that reflect this condemnation.
California Penal Code § 242 defines a “battery” as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” California law also criminalizes behavior against victims within a protected class of people found in § 243 (e)(1), which converts the crime of “battery” to the crime of “domestic battery.” Anyone with a prior Penal Code § 243(e)(1) conviction on their criminal record, will be ordered to serve a minimum sentence of 48 hours in county jail.
The protected class involves people who are intimate partners of an accused. This class includes the defendant’s spouse or former spouse, cohabitant, current or former fiancé, a person with whom the defendant currently has, or previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, and the mother or father of the defendant’s child.
To convict an individual in California for a charge of domestic battery, the prosecution is only required to show that the defendant touched an intimate partner in a harmful or offensive way. A prosecutor does not have to show that the touching hurt or caused physical injury to the alleged victim. Also, the slightest touching may be sufficient to be considered a domestic battery if done rudely or angrily.
The crime of battery, especially domestic battery, is troubling in and of itself. However, it is an offense that is may create liability and a conviction without causing pain to or injuring the alleged victim. The only requirement is that the defendant used force or violence against the victim. For example, pushing a victim that outweighs you by 100 lbs. and barely moving the victim would be a domestic battery under California law. A simple slap, grab, nudge, or push may constitute a domestic battery.
An accused may be found guilty of domestic battery if the touching was indirect where the defendant touched another person or object, and this person or object, as a result, touched the “victim.” For example, lunging at the victim, failing to touch her directly but touching and setting a cart in motion that strikes the victim, would be a domestic battery under California law.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to defend any criminal charge, especially a charge of domestic battery where even the slightest touching may be a criminal act. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.