Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is an extremely serious offense in California. The impetus behind the domestic violence laws was to punish abuse between spouses and cohabitants and to prevent the possibility of escalated violence between couples and family members. Known also as domestic assault, domestic battery, domestic violence, spousal abuse, spousal battery and spousal assault, a California Penal Code section 243(e)(1) violation can result in significant incarceration. If you are a non-citizen who pleads guilty to 243(e)(1), you are risking deportation or inadmissibility.

Under California Penal Code section pc 243 (e)(1), it is a misdemeanor offense to inflict “any willful application of force or violence on your intimate partner.

What does the prosecutor have to show in order to prove that I committed “Domestic Battery” under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1)?

In order to prove that you are guilty of “domestic battery,” the prosecutor must prove as follows:

  1. That you willfully inflicted
  2. force or violence
  3. upon your intimate partner.

The definition of “intimate partner” does not distinguish between heterosexual and same-sex couples. Under California Penal Code Section 243 (e) (1), “intimate partners” can include fiancé(e)s, your ex- or current spouse, your current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, your child’s mom or dad, or cohabitant (that is, a person with whom you live).

Does the amount of force or degree of touching matter?

No. Your liability is not determinant on the amount of force or violence inflicted on your spouse or significant other. It’s enough that you perpetrated any unwanted physical. This is what is known as simply (domestic) battery. In other words, your liability does not depend on whether you actually physically harmed your partner because the statute criminalizes the unwanted touching, whether it results in bodily injury or not.

For example, let’s say Bob and Bonnie are taking a romantic stroll on the beach, when Bonnie catches Bob staring at a beautiful woman that passes by. Bonnie, consumed with jealousy, angrily pulls Bob’s earlobe and smacks him upside the head. Bob does not sustain any actual physical injury beyond the initial fleeting pain of the pulling and smacking. Bonnie will still be criminally liable under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1).

How does Domestic Battery differ from other California Domestic Violence Offenses?

Under California Penal Code Section 243 (e) (1), domestic battery is charged as a misdemeanor. It is actually among the least severe of the domestic abuse laws in California. However, if there was injury involved, the prosecutor has the discretion to file other charges, including:

  1. File charges under California Penal Code Section 243 (e) (1), i.e., simple misdemeanor domestic battery, or;
  2. File charges under California Penal Code Section 273.5, i.e., intentional infliction of corporal injury, or;
  3. File charges under California Penal Code Section 243(d), also known as aggravated battery.

What is “Aggravated Battery?”

Aggravated battery, under California Penal Code Section 243(d), is what is known as a “wobbler.” What is a wobbler? It is an offense that can be filed either as a felony or a misdemeanor. There are factors that make the “scales tip” in either the direction of a felony filing or a misdemeanor filing and they are as follows:

  1. what, if any, bodily injur(y/ies) did the alleged victim suffer;
  2. the nature and circumstances of the incident (i.e., the alleged battery), and;
  3. your criminal background or lack thereof.

What does Penal Code Section 243(d) require that Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) does not?

Two things:

  1. the alleged victim must have suffered serious bodily injury, and;
  2. the alleged victim does not have to be your intimate partner, as it can be anyone.

What does “serious bodily injury” mean?

It means severe and egregious harm to a person’s body. Examples of such bodily injury include broken bones, cuts requiring lengthy stitching, heavy bruising, a concussion, etc.

For example, let’s say, using the aforesaid example, that Bonnie smacks Bob upside the head. Bob loses balance and suffers a concussion. Bonnie would be liable for felony battery under Penal Code 243(d) because Bob sustained a serious bodily injury.

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Contact the Law Offices of Robert Ernenwein to fight a Domestic Violence charge

If you or a loved one has been accused of Domestic Violence, don't wait until it's too late. Robert Ernenwein, an expert and experienced Torrance criminal defense lawyer, will use any and all available defenses to protect you against a conviction. He has over 30 years of experience defending persons accused of Domestic Violence.

Mr. Ernenwein is a former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys and is Certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. He has been named as a “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine and has appeared as a legal analyst on multiple cable news programs, including Fox News. The experience and capabilities Robert Ernenwein will bring to your Conspiracy Defense are unmatched.

If you are charged with Domestic Violence, call us at 310-375-5858 or e-mail us immediately for your free consultation.