Domestic violence” is abuse or violence committed against an adult or a minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the offender has had a child or is having or has had a dating relationship. The most common domestic violence offenses in California are domestic battery and corporal injury to a spouse.
Domestic battery under California Penal Code § 243(e)(1) involves the willful or intentional touching of another person with whom the defendant has a special relationship in a harmful or offensive manner. Because of this unique relationship, the California legislature has placed victims in a protected class of individuals.
Corporal injury to a spouse under California Penal Code § 273.5 involves the willful infliction of corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, fiancé, former fiancé, someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship, and the mother or father of the offender’s child.
For the State of California to charge someone with domestic battery or corporal injury to a spouse, the underlying action must be done willfully or intentionally. Thus, someone charged with either crime may have a valid defense if any injury to another party was caused accidentally or by other extenuating circumstances.
For purposes of California Penal Code § 243(e)(1), “willfully” means a defendant acted on purpose, or willingly. For an act to be considered willful, it is not necessary that the defendant intended to break the law or inflict injury on another person.
It is always a defense that the physical force or contact with the accused happened by accident. Because either of these offenses requires that the act be “willful,” or the application of force was intended, any accidental act does not create any criminal responsibility for domestic battery or corporal injury to a spouse. Where a defendant lacks the requisite intent, the prosecution will be unable to prove this essential element of either domestic battery or corporal injury to a spouse.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to defend any criminal charge, even a misdemeanor charge. 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.