Under California PC 243(e)(1), the law describes domestic battery as illegal contact with your intimate partner with the intent to harm them. Intimate partners include your former or current spouse, fiancée, or close relative. When you face domestic battery charges in Los Angeles, CA, you might wonder what to expect. The law considers domestic battery a serious offense with severe consequences. The consequences include lengthy jail terms, hefty fines, deportation, and losing your firearm rights.
So, you want to seek legal help. At the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we offer you legal advice and represent you in court. We do everything possible to ensure the court either reduce charges or drops your case. We can even negotiate with the prosecution team before they file the case with the criminal court. So, feel free to work with our team of skilled attorneys today.
Elements of Domestic Battery
Before the court convicts you with domestic battery, the prosecutor must prove all the elements of the crime. When the prosecutor fails to do so, you cannot face conviction for domestic battery. The main elements of the crime are:
Willfully Touching Someone Else
Willfully means touching someone in an offensive or harmful manner. Also, willfully means you acted with a purpose. The prosecutor must prove you touched the victim in an offensive or harmful manner.
Offensive and Harmful Touching
Offensive or harmful touching implies the touching was done in a manner that could attract physical injuries or harm. It does not matter whether the alleged victim sustains injuries. The law requires the prosecutor to prove you offensively touched the victim. A rude or slight touch is enough evidence of harmful or offensive touching.
What is an Intimate Partner?
Under the law, an intimate partner might include a family member or another family with whom you have a close relationship. The intimate partner might include your former or current spouse, siblings, parents, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and children.
Legal Penalties for Domestic Battery
When the court in California finds you guilty of domestic battery, you face misdemeanor charges. Also, you face immigration consequences. The maximum sentence is 12 months in jail. The court also orders you to serve summary probation. When the court grants you probation, they will suspend the sentence.
However, you must meet the conditions and the terms of the probation. The probation takes 12 months with no contact with the alleged victim. When you fail to comply with the conditions of the probation, the court can revoke the probation and order you to serve a jail term.
When this happens, you serve the jail term and pay fines. Under summary probation, the criminal court supervises the probation. The judge determines the conditions of the probation depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. Instead of paying the fine, the court may inflict the following conditions:
- Reasonable fines will cover the costs suffered by the victim, like counseling expenses
- Payments to shelter a battered woman
When you commit the offense for a second time and the court grants you probation, you must remain in county jail for at least 48 hours. However, if you can ascertain why you should not stay in detention, the court can drop the requirement and order you to serve probation.
Impacts of Domestic Violence on Immigrants
Domestic battery crime can have significant adverse effects on immigrants. As outlined by federal laws, the domestic battery can attract deportation. The law can also require the defendant to submit their firearms and prevent them from owning or possessing them. The conviction also attracts a criminal record. A criminal record can significantly affect you, especially when seeking a professional license.
When you are the victim of domestic battery, you also want to understand the statute of limitations. The time will ensure the court will punish the defendant for domestic violence. But the court will not consider your case when you file the case with the expired statute of limitation.
In California, all misdemeanors, including domestic battery charges, have a 12 months statute of limitation. But the statute of limitation may pause, especially when the defendant is outside the state. Also, the statute of limitation might be held when the victim acquires evidence through a search warrant.
Legal Defenses to Domestic Battery
When charged with domestic battery, you want to seek legal help from your criminal defense attorney. The attorney will help you learn about the potential penalties and the charges against you. Again, the attorney will help you know your rights and the best bargain options available. Your attorney can use a variety of strategies to help you protect your rights. The legal penalties include the following:
When you discredit the prosecutor's evidence, you may hurt their case. You might do so in several ways. The judge may dismiss the case when the court discovers the prosecutor has insufficient evidence. Your attorney may claim you were away when the alleged crime occurred. Also, your lawyer may argue the physical evidence presented by the prosecutor does not exist. Usually, the court wants to see both physical and emotional evidence.
No Willful Act
In California, the criminal court can only convict you after the prosecutor proves your willful act of committing the crime. So, you cannot face conviction when your acts were not willful. Your attorney can employ this defense to help fight the charge.
For example, Mark and Jane are lovers. An argument arises between them. Mark grabs a glass and drops it to the floor because of anger, and the glass spreads and cuts Jane. Under this case, Mark cannot face conviction for domestic battery even if Jane sustains injuries.
Acting Out of Defense
The law allows you to defend yourself when you are in imminent danger of suffering severe injuries and harm. But you can only use this defense under the following conditions:
- You strongly believed you were in imminent danger
- You applied the appropriate level of force
- You believed the force was necessary to avoid the danger
Your attorney can argue you acted reasonably within the lawful limit to avoid physical contact with the victim before applying the force. You can also provide evidence to support your claim.
It was an Accident
The defense means you committed the crime unintentionally. If you argue that your actions were a whole accident, your attorney must confirm your story before developing the defense. For example, when you claim a hammer slipped and hit the victim as you were repairing your kitchen, the attorney will investigate the repairs in the kitchen, the position of the victim during the accident, and the location of the hammer. Also, the attorney will investigate blood stains on other potential weapons.
Your attorney can use this to fight the charge when you are falsely accused of domestic battery. In many cases, spouses are involved in heated arguments, and one partner may accuse the other out of vengeance. Your competent criminal defense attorney can conduct thorough investigations and ask various questions about the crime. Your attorney can even interview eyewitnesses to know whether you are a victim of false accusations.
You can employ the defense of consent to fight the domestic battery charge. When you prove before the court that the victim consented to touch, you cannot face conviction for the crime. Since the crime involved two relatives or partners, you can argue you had consent from the victim. However, proving consent might be challenging. Ensure you work with a competent and experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges.
Mistake of Facts
Mistake of fact is another legal defense you can use to fight a domestic battery charge. Your criminal defense attorney can argue you did not aim at committing the crime but committed it due to a mistake of fact. You can provide evidence to demonstrate you committed the crime due to a mistake or you strongly believed the victim consented to the touching. When you do so, the court can drop or reduce the charges.
Domestic Battery and Domestic Violence
Although domestic battery and domestic violence are different offenses, many people use them interchangeably. Domestic violence includes ongoing abuse in a relationship, while domestic battery involves causing harm to someone with whom you are in a relationship. Domestic violence involves:
- Psychological abuse: Psychological abuse involves the use of fear to cause threats. Sometimes, one partner may threaten to harm or kill the other partner when they fail to do whatever they want.
- Physical abuse: includes kicking, biting, elbowing, punishing, or any other form of abuse that causes harm to the victim. Also, physical abuse may include forcing someone to do something they do not wish to do.
- Sexual abuse: sexual abuse includes touching intimate parts, rape, and forcible sex.
- Stalking/internet stalking: the following acts or behaviors are unlawful in California; sending love letters, Facebook stalking, following a person, sending flowers, and appearing at the other person's workplace. However, the acts are illegal when you do so, and the victim no longer wants you.
Domestic violence is a global issue that affects many families across the US. The victims of domestic violence may not know what to do when they face this type of abuse. If you are one of them, you want to learn your rights. Speak with your attorney to help you stop the act of domestic violence.
Why Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney After a Domestic Battery Charge?
To obtain the best case outcomes, like a reduced charge or dismissal of your case, you must work with a well-skilled and competent attorney. The domestic violence lawyer will help you in the following situations:
Filing a Motion
Your domestic lawyer can help you file a motion to take action within the confines of the statute. You can request the court to drop the charge through the motion as you believe the evidence was legally obtained.
The prosecution team only receives one side of the whole story. Your criminal defense attorney can examine the credibility of the presented evidence. The attorney can also review your case and identify strong evidence to challenge the prosecutor.
Your criminal defense attorney can request the court to grant you a plea bargain upon entering a guilty verdict. Once you agree to the guilty verdict, the court will reduce your charges or dismiss the case. The plea bargains come with conditions to which the defendant must adhere. Your attorney will help you understand the conditions imposed by the court and ensure you obtain the best plea bargain available for your case.
Based on the details of your case, your domestic violence attorney can use a pre-trial program or deferred entry of judgment to conclude your case. The options are available mainly when you complete the court-ordered program. Before you become eligible for the pretrial diversion, the court must consider the following elements:
- The nature and type of the charge.
- The location of your residence.
- Your past criminal records.
Other Related Offenses
In California, domestic battery is charged alongside or in place of other related crimes, including:
- Aggravated Battery
Aggravated battery occurs when you willfully touch someone offensively, impairing the victim. Aggravated battery is also referred to as battery with serious bodily injury. California laws consider the following injuries to be severe physical injuries. Loss of consciousness, disfigurement, wounds requiring stitches, bone fractures, and impairment of a body organ.
For example, a man grabs a woman's arm, trying to rob her purse. In the process, he dislocates the woman's elbow. The man would face charges of aggravated battery even if he did not intend to relocate the woman's arm.
Penalties for Aggravated Battery
Pc243(d) is a wobbler, meaning you can either face charges for a felony or a misdemeanor. Aggravated assault is usually a felony if the victim suffers severe injuries. As a misdemeanor, you serve time in county jail for one year, a fine, and you must attend informal probation.
As a felony, you must serve time in prison for two, three, or four years, paying a fine. Again, you are prohibited from opening, possessing, or purchasing a firearm.
Defenses for aggravated Battery
The following are legal defenses you may use to challenge the prosecution.
You may use this defense if you reasonably believe you are in danger of imminent bodily injury or unlawful touching. Again if you reasonably believed the immediate use of force was necessary to deflect the harm, you acted in self-defense, and therefore you did not commit aggravated battery.
No Serious Bodily Harm
California law requires the victim to suffer serious bodily harm for you to face charges for pc 243(d). Serious bodily injury refers to a physical condition or an impairment. If the victim suffered minor injuries, you could not face the charges for aggravated battery.
The Touching was Accidental
You might face conviction for aggravated battery even if you did not intend to touch the victim. However, if the touching was accidental and not intentional, then you have a valid defense. A skilled attorney will examine how the victim's contact took place. Then, the attorney will use creative arguments to argue the defense.
- Elder Abuse PC 368
California laws make it a crime to willfully cause or allow an elder or dependent adult to suffer unnecessary pain. The victim does not have to be an elder. Dependent adults refer to those who rely on others for their daily needs. They have physical and mental impairments. Dependent adults, children, and those aged 65 years or older receive special protection under PC 368.
If you are a caregiver and allow the elder to undergo unjustifiable pain, you may face charges for elder abuse. California laws seek to protect elders and offer consequences to those found guilty of abusing an elder. Elder abuse may occur in several ways, including:
Physical abuse refers to causing pain and injuries to an elder. For example, abrasions, burns, fractures, and bruises. It also includes sexual neglect.
Financial abuse is stealing and defrauding an elder's property, like forgery.
Emotional abuse includes mental suffering such as isolation and ridicule. Examples of elder abuse involve allowing an elder for whom you are the caretaker to go without enough food and water. Also, it includes misusing an elder's credit card or forging an elder's signature.
When you violate pc, you may face either misdemeanor Or felony charges.
When charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties are:
- Summary probation
- One year of jail term
- Pay restitution fees to the victim
- Mandatory counseling
As a felony, elder abuse attracts the following penalties:
- Formal probation
- State prison for four years.
- Full restitution and counseling
Legal defenses to fight elder abuse charges include:
Someone may be holding a grudge against you and then decide to make a false accusation. The false allegation may also come unintentionally when an elderly from a medical condition is misconstrued as the result of neglect. Since it is the work of the police and doctors to report all suspected abuse, they are susceptible to drawing faulty assumptions.
For you to face conviction for the charges, the prosecution wants to provide evidence fitting the allegations. Cases of injury to an elder or dependent adult may occur for other reasons. For example, negligence by caregivers results in many injured seniors yearly. Again, the injuries may result from negligence by an understaffed nursing home facility. Therefore, proving that you are responsible for abusing the elderly victim can be possible.
It may be possible to prove that you were acting in self-defense or defense of another person. Sometimes, the older adult may be physically aggressive, putting you or your baby at risk of harm. Your criminal defense attorney may prove it was reasonable to believe that you or someone else was in imminent danger of bodily injury. You, therefore, used immediate force to avoid the threat.
- Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant
Pc 273.5 refers to willfully inflicting a physical injury resulting in traumatic condition to your spouse or cohabitant. The victim may be your girlfriend, partner, cohabitant, former spouse, boyfriend, or parent of the defendant's children. Pc 273.5 may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the nature of your case. Possible sentencing elements for misdemeanor pc 273.5 include:
- One year in county jail
- Summary probation
When charged as a felony, the charges are:
- Serve time in prison from two to four years
- Formal probation
Common defense strategies used against charges of corporal injury to an intimate partner are:
Domestic disputes are often filled up with spite. Due to anger, your spouse may decide to report you to the police. Unfortunately, the case may begin when your spouse accuses you of committing the crime. The false accusations may be a way your spouse wants to satisfy their desire to punish you. You can hire an attorney to prove that the allegations are untrue.
You have a valid defense if you inflict corporal injury on your spouse or cohabitant when acting in self-defense. As per California laws, you can use reasonable force to defend yourself when attacked. You have reasonable self-defense if you reasonably believed you were in danger of being killed and used force to prevent this from happening.
Contact a Criminal Defence Attorney Near Me
When you face charges for domestic battery in Los Angeles, CA, you want to seek legal help immediately. A domestic battery offense is severe and may land you in great trouble, with harsh penalties, jail terms, and hefty fines. So, you need to hire a domestic violence attorney to help you fight the charge. The attorney will investigate your case and develop a robust defense mechanism to help you obtain the best possible outcomes.
We at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney have deep expertise in handling domestic violence cases. We have successfully handled domestic violence cases for many years. So we are ready to offer top-tier legal advice whenever you seek our help. Do not hesitate to call us today. Contact us at 424-333-0943, and we will provide the legal assistance you require.