California Penal Code Section 243(e) – Domestic Battery
The crime of “domestic battery” is defined under California Penal Code Section 243(e) and commonly known in Los Angeles County Criminal Courts as “spousal battery” and one of the most common domestic violence related charges. It’s described as any willful and unlawful offensive touching on another person who is your current or former spouse, fiancé, cohabitant, someone you have or had a dating relationship, or parent of your child. It’s important to note you can be convicted on PC 243(e) domestic battery charges even in cases where the victim did not sustain any actual physical injuries. By definition, it’s only required that you used some type of force or violence against the victim. As stated, misdemeanor domestic battery charges are by far the most common form of charges related to a domestic violence incident. A common domestic violence incident in Los Angeles County includes a situation where a husband and wife become engaged in a verbal argument and during the heat of the moment, the husband grabs her wrist or pushes her. In this example, even though the wife was not injured, it would still meet the criminal definition of domestic battery because the husband used force that could be considered offensive touching. Unfortunately, in reality, this example is far too common and domestic violence calls received by law enforcement are their most common calls for service. A seemingly routine verbal argument quickly turns into a domestic battery charge. A conviction for Penal Code 243(3) can have life-altering consequences as it’s considered a crime of moral turpitude.
If you are facing domestic battery charges, you should consult with the experienced Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers at the Goldstein Law Group to review your case and legal options. Our law firm has a track record of success defending our clients against any type of domestic violence related charges. For example, in one case, our client who was a successful corporate executive was arrested by Santa Monica Police Department after his girlfriend called 911 and claimed he placed his hands on her during an argument. The police offered her a protective order, but she declined it. The girlfriend proceeded to retain a civil lawyer and made threats to sue our client for a percentage of his real estate holdings. Our law firm conducted an independent investigation and were able to discover the victim had filed prior civil lawsuits for similar alleged incidents which supported our position her motivation was primarily money. After we presented our information to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, they decided not to file criminal charges against our client. Now that we have covered a general overview of domestic battery charges, let’s take a more thorough review of the legal definition, penalties and defenses below.
Legal Definition of Penal Code 243(e) Domestic Battery
California Penal Code Section 243(e) legally defines the misdemeanor crime of domestic battery as follows:
(e) (1) When battery is committed against a spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, a person with whom they have, or previously had a dating relationship, or parent of the defendant’s child, the battery is punishable by a fine up to $2,000 or up to one year in county jail, or both fine and jail. If probation is granted, or a sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition the defendant participate in a one-year batterer’s treatment program described in Penal Code Section 1203.097 or another counseling program designated by the court.
In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to convict you of PC 243(3) domestic battery, they must be able to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, the “elements of the crime” including:
- You willfully and unlawfully touched another person
- The touching was considered harmful or offensive
- The victim of your unlawful touching was your current or former intimate partner
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key words in the legal definition. The term “willfully” simply means it was on purpose and not an accident. “Harmful or offensive touching” is essentially any form of a touch done disrespectfully or out of anger. As stated above, it’s not necessary for the touching to cause injury or pain. An “intimate partner” simply means the act was committed against someone you have had an intimate relationship with; including a spouse or former spouse, someone you are living with, fiancé, fiancée, dating relationship, or they are the parent of your child.
Legal Penalties for Penal Code 243(e) Domestic Battery
If you are convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic battery in violation of California Penal Code Section 243(e), you could be sentenced up to one year in a Los Angeles county jail, fined up to $2,000, and misdemeanor summary probation. If the judge decides to grant you probation and a “suspended sentence” you will be required to complete a 52-week batterer’s treatment program. The judge could decide that instead of paying the fine, you have to pay a battered woman’s shelter and any expenses the victim had to pay as a result of your crime. Additionally, if you are not a legal immigrant, a domestic battery conviction could lead to deportation because it’s considered a deportable crime under federal immigration laws.
California Penal Code Section 242 – Battery
California Penal Code Section 243(d) – Aggravated Battery
California Penal Code Section 273.5 – Corporal Injury on Spouse
California Penal Code Section 368 – Elder Abuse
California Penal Code Section 422 – Criminal Threats
California Penal Code Section 415 – Disturbing the Peace
California Penal Code Section 601 – Aggravated Trespassing
California Penal Code Section 602 – Trespassing
California Penal Code Section 646.9 – Stalking
California Penal Code Section 653m – Making Annoying Phone Calls
Legal Defenses for Penal Code 243(e) Domestic Battery
If you have been accused of domestic battery in violation of California Penal Code Section 243(e), our skilled Los Angeles domestic battery defense lawyers could use a wide range of strategies to obtain the best possible outcome on your case. These include:
Self-Defense: In some cases, our attorneys may be able to make the argument you had a reasonable belief you were in danger of suffering bodily injury and only used the force necessary to protect yourself. In other words, you were protecting yourself, or another person, and were acting in self-defense and didn’t use any more force than necessary.
No Willful Touching: In some cases, we may be able to make a reasonable argument the touching on the alleged victim was not willful, rather it was an accident. Remember, one of the key elements of the crime is that the prosecutor has to prove your touching was willful. Our goal is to cast reasonable doubt. If successful, you have a good chance of avoiding a conviction or least have your charges reduced to a lesser offense.
False Allegation: It’s not uncommon for people to face false allegations of domestic battery. In some cases, our clients have been accused of domestic battery from an alleged victim out of revenge, anger, jealously, or as a perceived advantage in a bitter child custody case.
Contact our Criminal Defense Law Firm
If you have been facing allegations of committing domestic battery that violates California Penal Code Section 243(e), you have much at stake. A conviction could have tremendous impact on your personal and professional life. You should consult with our highly experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at the Goldstein Law Group who have a history of success in any type of domestic violence related charges. We will work aggressively to obtain the best possible outcome on your case. We serve clients throughout Los Angeles County from our office in Hollywood located at 1645 Vine St #809 Los Angeles, CA 90028. Contact our law firm at 323-461-2000 to review the details of your case.
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