BUELLTON CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY – PENAL CODE 243(E)(1) –
DOMESTIC BATTERY – SANFORD HOROWITZ CRIMINAL DEFENSE
CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 243(E)(1): DOMESTIC BATTERY DEFENSE ATTORNEY
The city of Buellton is known for their year round sunshine and temperate climate. It is the perfect weather for growing vineyards and for a day of adventure. The small town seems like heaven, however you might be surprised to learn that incidents of domestic violence have been on the rise in this area since the the stay at home orders caused by COVID.
If you have been arrested for domestic battery, it does not automatically mean that you are guilty. It’s important to vigorously fight a domestic battery charge because a criminal conviction will stay on your record and can adversely affect job and educational opportunities down the road.
As a former Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Offices in both Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties, Sanford Horowitz and his legal team will offer you a free consultation, investigate the evidence against you, and recommend practical steps to achieve the best possible results in your case.
CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 243(E)(1):
Domestic battery, also referred to as “spousal battery” and “spousal assault”, is charged under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) and is the most common misdemeanor offense pertaining to domestic violence allegations.
In order for you to be guilty of domestic battery in Buellton, the prosocuter must be able to prove that your behavior fits the legal definition of that crime.
The elements of Penal Code 243(e)(1) are:
- You willfully touched another person,
- That touching was harmful or offensive, and
- The person you touched was your intimate partner or former intimate partner
“Willfully” means you acted on purpose or willingly. You do not need to have intended to:
- Break the law, or
- Inflict injury on someone else
“Harmful or offensive” touching doesn’t even have to cause injury or pain—as long as it was done in a disrespectful or angry manner. In this way, the crime is similar to the crime of Penal Code 242 PC battery.
The crime of domestic battery can only be committed against someone with whom you have an intimate relationship. Examples of an intimate relationship include:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A person with whom you are cohabiting (i.e., someone you are living with)
- A fiancé or fiancée
- A person who is the parent of your child
- A person with whom you have, or have previously had, a “dating relationship”
Most of these relationships are easy to prove. However, it can be difficult to determine if two people were actually cohabiting, or involved in a dating relationship.
Here is an example of behavior that could lead to criminal liability under PC 243(e)(1):
A witnesses observes you hitting a woman (who is not your wife, fiancée, or live-in girlfriend) on the street outside of their home at 5 in the morning. You will be arrested and charged with domestic battery. The woman decides not to testify against you.
You argue that there is no proof that you were involved in a dating relationship. But witnesses heard you refer to her as your “girl”.
That, plus the fact that she was at your place at 5:00 a.m., is considered enough evidence for the jury to conclude that you were dating—and that you can be convicted of Penal Code 243(e)(1).
LEGAL PENALTIES FOR DOMESTIC BATTERY
California domestic battery is a misdemeanor, and if convicted, you may face the following penalties:
- Up to one (1) year in county jail,
- A maximum two thousand dollar ($2,000) fine, and/or
- Misdemeanor (summary) probation.
It is common for defendants to receive probation (also known as a “suspended sentence”). If this occurs, you will be required, as a condition of probation, to complete a minimum one-year batterer’s treatment program.
If you receive probation as a sentence, the court may decide that—instead of a $2,000 fine—you must pay:
- Up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) to a battered woman’s shelter, and/or
- Any reasonable expenses that the victim incurred as a result of the offense, including the cost of counseling.
Finally, if you are convicted of Penal Code 243(e)(1) spousal battery for a second or subsequent time—and you are given probation as a sentence—you still will be required to serve at least forty-eight (48) hours in county jail. The only way around this requirement is if you can convince the judge that there is “good cause” why you should not serve that time.
FIGHTING A DOMESTIC BATTERY CHARGE
- Defense of Others
The legal defense of self-defense/defense of others applies when all of the following are true:
- You reasonably believed that you or someone else was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or being touched unlawfully;
- You reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger; and
- You used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.
- If you can prove all of the above facts, then you are not guilty of PC 243(e)(1) spousal battery.
If the unwanted physical contact was an accident then that is a defense to the crime of domestic battery. When there is no will or purpose to create an unwanted harmful contact then there is no crime.
If you are facing a charge of domestic violence, Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense, P.C. knows the law and the best strategies to defend you. We have extensive experience representing clients throughout the Santa Barbara County area and want to help you understand the charges you are facing, as well as what your rights are under the law. If you’d like to schedule a consultation about your case, call 805-452-7214 or fill out this contact form.