The domestic violence laws of California make it a criminal offense to harm or threaten to hurt your partner. A partner, in this case, must be intimate, and you can easily face allegations of PEN 243(e)(1) violations. A conviction of this offense carries severe penalties in addition to other lasting consequences. When you intentionally cause harm to your partner, charges of domestic battery can be leveled against you. Unfortunately, many people are wrongly accused of this offense and face wrongful convictions. When you encounter these allegations, seeking legal advice is the most important thing. A criminal attorney will help by investigating the claims and formulating a defense strategy to defend you against the allegations. At the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we have helped many clients beat these allegations and can help you as well.
Who Does the Law Recognize as an Intimate Partner?
For the allegations of domestic battery to stick, the crime must have been committed against an intimate partner, according to PEN 243(e)(1). Not everyone is described as an intimate partner. However, the law recognizes the following as intimate partners:
- A former or current spouse
- A previous or current registered domestic partner
- Past or current fiancé or fiancée
- Past or current cohabitant (romantic partner)
- A person that you share a child with
- A person that you have been involved in a serious relationship with previously or currently.
In addition to intimate partners, there are other victims that the law recognizes that can be domestically abused according to the family code of California. Some of the other persons that can bring a domestic battery charge against an individual include:
- Your child or
- Any individual related to you either by blood or through marriage. These may include
- Your sisters or brothers
- Your half-sisters or brothers and even step-siblings
- Your grandparents and grandchildren
- Your uncles and aunties
- Your nieces and nephews
Overview of PEN 243(e)(1) Domestic Battery
This statute in California makes it a misdemeanor crime to use violence or force or inflict injuries to an intimate partner or any of those listed above. However, the law does not require there to be a visible physical injury for one to be convicted of this crime.
Charges of domestic battery are different from those of domestic violence, although similar in specific ways. Domestic battery allegations are always prosecuted as misdemeanor offenses, while domestic violence is a wobbler offense.
For a conviction of this offense, however, the prosecutor must prove two elements of the crime to be true. These are:
- You unlawfully and willingly offensively touched the alleged victim or made verbal threats to them
- The person must have been an intimate partner to you either currently or formerly
Understanding Unlawful Violence or Application of Force Upon an Intimate Partner
The domestic battery happens when a partner or former partner is accused of using unlawful force against their current or former partner. This, in simpler terms, is the illegal physical contact with a said partner and does not have to be painful or have caused injuries. The alleged victim only has to show the defendant made illegal physical contact out of disrespect or anger towards them.
When the physical contact is made upon the victim, it means touching the body of your intimate partner, their clothing, or anything that is closely connected to them. This may include their purse, hat, crashing their windshield, or hitting something out of their hand.
The act must also have been committed willfully. This means that you planned to commit the act of unwanted physical contact. The prosecution is not burdened to prove whether you intended to cause harm or commit an offense. However, unwelcome physical contact is all it takes for one to be accused of the offense.
When the Prosecutor is Unable to Prove the Elements of Domestic Battery
Sometimes, it may be challenging to prove some elements of the offense, but still, one can be prosecuted for assault or battery. When the prosecutor cannot prove that the alleged victim and the defendant are or were intimate partners, an assault charge can still be leveled against the defendant. For instance, the defendant may have tried to hit the intimate partner who managed to get away before physical contact.
If the prosecution fails to show the person to be an intimate partner, the defendant can still face charges of assault. All the prosecution will be required to show is that the defendant used unlawful force against another person.
Penalties for PEN 243(e)(1) Domestic Battery Violations
As earlier stated, violations of this law is a misdemeanor offense. When one gets convicted of this offense, they face severe penalties that may include:
- County imprisonment for not more than a year
- A cash fine not in excess of $2,000
- A misdemeanor probation
- Both a cash fine and misdemeanor probation or either
When one is sentenced to probation, there are various conditions to it. Probation is standard for domestic battery charges and is also referred to as a suspended sentence. If sentenced to probation, one of the requirements is for the defendant to complete a treatment program for batterers. This program should go on for not less than a year to complete.
Additionally, a probation sentence may require you to pay a fine of $2,000. However, the court can decide against the fine but order the defendant to pay:
- A shelter for battered women up to $5,000
- Expenses incurred by the victim because of the offense such as legal costs or therapy costs
If you are a repeat offender of domestic battery and are sentenced to summary probation, there will be a mandatory requirement for 48-hour imprisonment in county jail. However, if your lawyer can convince the judge that you should not serve jail time, the judge may waive the sentence.
Consequences of Domestic Battery to Your Immigration Status
In many ways, spousal or domestic battery is a minor crime, and the subsequent penalties are not harsh. However, this is not the case for non-citizens. The potential consequences of a conviction for an immigrant are severe.
Domestic battery is an offense under domestic violence, which makes it a deportable offense according to the federal laws on immigration. Even when a person is legally in the United States, a conviction of this crime may result in deportation proceedings being brought against you.
As an immigrant, when you face these allegations, it is best to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to formulate strategies to counter the claims.
Legal Defenses for PEN 243(e)(1) Violations
When facing these allegations, your skilled Los Angeles lawyer can formulate various strategies that will help you fight these allegations. Some of the popular strategies used include:
Self Defense or in Protection of Others
This defense can be used in cases of domestic battery. However, the strategy only applies when some of the following facts are true:
- The defendant reasonably believed they were in danger, or another person was in the possible risk of harm from the alleged victim.
- The defendant reasonably believed the use of force was required to protect themselves or other potential victims from the danger
- The defendant did not use unreasonable force to defend themselves or others from the imminent threat
Through a lawyer, if the defendant can demonstrate the above facts as factual, then they cannot be found guilty of domestic battery.
There was no Willfulness to Commit the Offense
One of the elements of the offense is that the defendant committed the crime willingly. However, if the defendant can prove that they did not willfully get into contact with the alleged victim, they are not guilty of the offense.
For instance, in the process of arguing, a partner can pick a glass and smash it against the wall. Unfortunately, a piece of the glass jumps and hits the other partner accidentally. In such a case, the partner did not intend to injure the other, and the glass was not directed at them.
False allegations are common in domestic battery cases. Every day, arrests are made on false allegations out of anger or the need to get revenge against your partner. When your partner accuses you of battery falsely, it can be devastating and confusing at the same time. However, it is not advisable to leave things to chance. Talking to a defense lawyer is essential because they are familiar with the situations.
A lawyer will know the kind of questions to ask. This is essential to create doubt as well as the evidence to gather. A skilled lawyer will ensure that the truth comes out in court and help you avoid a conviction.
Domestic Battery Related Offenses
There are various offenses in relation to the domestic battery that a person can face under domestic violence. Crimes of abuse, battery, neglect, or threats all fall under domestic violence crimes. While the domestic battery is prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense, other related offenses can be felonies.
Many domestic violence cases are wobbler offenses meaning they can be a misdemeanor or felony offenses. The decision on how to prosecute the offense depends on:
- The seriousness of the offense or how significant the injuries are
- The facts and circumstances of the crime
- The criminal record of the defendant if they have one.
Below, we discuss some common domestic violence offenses that are related to domestic battery.
PEN 273.5 Violations – Corporal Injuries to a Partner or Spouse
Under this law, it is a criminal offense to cause corporal injuries to your intimate partner. When a person injures their spouse or intimate partner as described earlier, felony charges can be preferred against them. A conviction of this offense can lead to harsher penalties compared to those of domestic battery.
When convicted of the offense, the defendant will face likely state imprisonment ranging between a year and four years. When facing these allegations, hiring a skilled defense lawyer is vital to avoid the harsh penalties that follow as a result of a conviction.
PEN 273d Violations – Child Abuse
The law prohibits the inflicting of corporal punishment or injuries to a minor. This is a related offense to a domestic battery that also falls under domestic violence. In one of the defenses for domestic battery, the defendant can argue they committed the offense while protecting another person in most cases a minor. If a minor is facing imminent danger from the alleged victim who can be a parent, the other parent, to protect the minor, may commit a domestic battery offense.
PEN 273d constitutes Child Abuse laws in California. The law allows for reasonable punishment like spanking, but cruel punishment that may result in injuries is prohibited. If a parent or a caregiver inflicts injuries to a minor, child abuse allegations can be brought against them.
A conviction for child abuse carries severe penalties, just like other domestic violence cases. The offense is punishable as a felony, and the defendant faces likely state imprisonment of between one and three years.
PEN 273a Violations – Child Endangerment
It is a criminal offense to willingly allow a minor under your care to suffer any harm physically or have their health and safety at risk. This law can be used in defense of a domestic battery case. For instance, a father can be accused of domestic battery when they were protecting their child from their live-in girlfriend.
When a partner is faced with domestic battery charges, they can counter the charges by demonstrating they were trying to protect a minor from endangerment. Charges of child endangerment can even be filed against the alleged victim of domestic battery in this case.
When a person faces child endangerment allegations, misdemeanor or felony charges can be preferred against them. However, most prosecutions are carried out as misdemeanor, and a conviction may lead to county jail imprisonment for not more than six months.
PEN 270 Violations – Child Neglect
This is another offense under domestic violence that is related to domestic battery. When a parent willfully fails in their duty to provide to the needs of a minor can face charges of child neglect. The law expects a parent to provide shelter, clothing, and medical care, among other necessities to their child.
Sometimes a person can commit a domestic battery offense while they are trying to protect their child from neglect by the other parent. For instance, if two people share a child, and one has primary custody, he or she may not provide the necessary care as expected by the law. If the other parent notices this, they may try to protect their child from the abuse, but in retaliation, they get accused of domestic battery.
Ordinarily, child neglect charges are prosecuted as misdemeanor offenses. When a person is convicted of the crime, they may be punished by being ordered to pay a fine not exceeding $2,000. In addition or an alternative to the fine, the defendant can also be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than a year.
PEN 422 Violations – Criminal Threats
This crime is related to domestic battery. Although it is an independent crime, it can also fall under domestic violence. When a person is charged with domestic battery, it may be because they issued threats to their intimate partner. An intimate partner can also issue criminal threats to another.
The law prohibits a person from threatening another by causing them harm. Violations for PEN 422 can be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor offenses. If one is convicted of a misdemeanor offense under this law, they can be imprisoned for not more than a year.
A felony conviction, on the other hand, carries more penalties. A defendant can face a possible jail sentence not exceeding four years. Under the law of three strikes in California, a felony conviction, in this case, will lead to a strike.
PEN 591 Violations – Destroying a Telephone Line
It is a crime to damage or cut a phone line or phone equipment. During a domestic misunderstanding, a partner can disconnect or cut off the telephone line to prevent their partner from making a call. If a partner feels threatened by the other, they may need to use the phone to call for help. If the other partner disconnects the phone to prevent them from calling for help, they can be charged with this offense.
Allegations against PEN 591 violations can be either a felony or misdemeanor charges. If the charges brought against a defendant are prosecuted as felony offenses, the penalties can be steep. A conviction, in this case, can result in three-year imprisonment or less and a fine not exceeding $10,000.
PEN 601 Violations – Aggravated Trespass
A person can be accused of violating this law if they issue criminal threats and, in thirty days, enter the home of the person to fulfill the threat. This offense can be charged alongside domestic battery offenses. For instance, a couple can be divorced or separated, but one is not happy with how the situation is.
The unhappy partner can threaten to come and take items they believe to belong to them rightfully. After some time, they come to the home of their former partner uninvited to carry out their threat. In the process, they can also commit domestic battery against their former partner. This can result in both domestic battery charges and aggravated trespass charges being leveled against them.
Aggravated trespass is prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor charges. A felony conviction can carry more severe penalties, with one of them being possible three-year imprisonment.
Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
Domestic battery charges are common and, in some cases, can be out of spite from one partner. Regardless of why the allegations are brought against you, a lack of proper defense can result in a conviction and penalties. It is in the interest of the defendant to fight against the allegations and avoid a criminal record. Talking to a defense lawyer is essential to fight against the charges successfully. At the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we can offer you excellent defense to overcome these allegations. Call our office at 424-333-0943 and let us defend you against these accusations.