Living in the beautiful city of Santa Barbara may seem like a dream to most people, however, even in a city like this, nightmares can still arise. Unfortunately, incidents of domestic violence have been trending upward since the the stay at home orders caused by COVID-19 and are a valid concern.

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.



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 Santa Barbara, 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:


  1. You willfully touched another person,
  2. That touching was harmful or offensive, and
  3. 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


  1. Break the law, or
  2. 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.


Examples of behavior that could lead to criminal liability under PC 243(e)(1):

  • You push your boyfriend during a fight
  • You are feeling frustrated with your ex-wife and grab her shirt, ripping it
  • You are angry with your girlfriend for cheating, so you pull her hair and scratch her face


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:


  1. Up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) to a battered woman’s shelter, and/or
  2. 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.



There are a variety of legal defenses that can be used against domestic battery charges. Some of the most common are:

  • Self-Defense
  • Defense of Others

The legal defense of self-defense/defense of others applies when all of the following are true:


  1. You reasonably believed that you or someone else was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or being touched unlawfully;
  2. You reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger; and
  3. You used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.
  4. If you can prove all of the above facts, then you are not guilty of PC 243(e)(1) spousal battery.

self defense

Under California law, self defense is a defense to domestic battery. If you have a reasonable belief that you will suffer harm from your intimate partner if you don’t fight back, then you may be able to claim self defense.


People often falsely accuse their intimate partners of domestic battery. When involved in a passionate argument, one partner may falsely accuse the other of battery out of rage. If you feel that you have been falsely accused, we will ask questions and investigate the facts to demonstrate that to the prosecutor.


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 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.


What is "upon" the person?

“Upon” means to touch your intimate partner's body, clothing or something closely attached to or closely connected to them. This can include touching their hat, purse, knocking something out of their hand, or smashing their windshield as they drive away from you.

What is "unlawful use of force or violence"?

"Unlawful use of force or violence" refers to any illegal physical contact inflicted upon your intimate partner. The prosecution does not have to show you caused pain or harm, they only have to show that the physical contact was made out of anger or disrespect.

domestic violence DEFENSE ATTORNEYS IN santa barbara

Don’t wait to contact Sanford Horowitz to ensure that your legal rights are protected.