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Domestic Battery: What is the law and punishment?

California Penal Code 243(e)(1) "Domestic Battery" is a misdemeanor.  Domestic battery is a common misdemeanor that can have serious consequences for a defendant in terms of employment, child custody and visitation, and jail time.  Domestic battery is one of the few misdemeanors that will require bail to be posted prior to being released from custody. 

What Must Be Proven in a Domestic Battery Case?

PC 496(a)requires the following to be proven:

  1. the defendant committed a battery upon the victim; and
  2. at the time of the battery, the victim was the defendant's spouse or fiance, or is or was in a dating relationship.

 The prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt that a domestic battery occurred.

What are the penalties for a Domestic Battery?

 PC 496(a) has a maximum fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to 1 year in county jail.  

A conviction or guilty plea will result in a lifetime prohibition on owning firearms.

What are the defenses to Domestic Battery?

Self-defense and defense of others

A reasonable fear of imminent harm is a justification for using force.  The force can only be that which is required to prevent the harm.  A similar justification applies if the reasonable fear is that another is in imminent harm and the force is used to prevent harm to the other person.  This may be a valid defense if the victim lunged at the defendant, was or is about to throw objects, or raising fists to prepare to hit the defendant or another.  

The battery was not willful

The alleged battery must proven to be done on purpose.  If the contact was accidental or not intended, a domestic battery has not occurred. 

The victim is falsely accusing the defendant

Domestic battery cases are often he said, she said stories.  If it can be proven that the victim's story is not factually correct, it may be proven the defendant has been falsely accused and the case should be dismissed.  In order to prove this, the defense may present witnesses that observed events differently from the victim, video or audio recordings of the events, and the victim's own statement to the police can be used to prove a false accusation.

Bottom line, you need an experienced attorney who is willing to walk you through the entire process, evaluate your case effectively for weaknesses and exploit the issues in your case to achieve the best results.  The Law Offices of Steven McNicholl has that experience and will get you through your case in the best shape possible.

See also

PC 273.5(a) "inflicting corporal injury on spouse or cohabitant" 

Contact Us Today!

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, call the Law Offices of Steven McNicholl at (951) 405-0990. We have the skill and experience in San Bernardino County to protect your rights and get the best results in your case.

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