What Is Domestic Battery?

Domestic violence is an overreaching problem comprised of several different criminal charges under California law. The legal definition of domestic violence is quite broad, covering a wide range of actions under a variety of circumstances. Because of this ambiguity, domestic violence charges are often poorly understood. Domestic violence is defined as a form of abuse perpetrated against a spouse or former spouse, an intimate partner such as a girlfriend, boyfriend, or fiancé, someone you live with or have previously lived with, someone you have a child in common with, or that child, or someone you are related to through blood or marriage. Abuse is characterized as an intentional or reckless attempt to inflict bodily harm, sexually assault, or make a threat to harm. Domestic battery, also known as spousal battery, is one of California's domestic violence crimes. Domestic battery is the least serious of California's domestic violence crimes because injury does not need to be present for the defendant to be convicted.

As you can see, the definition of domestic violence is far-reaching. To understand the charge of domestic battery, let's start with the legal definition of battery, as defined under California penal code 242: battery is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. Physical injury need not be sustained or actuated. Battery is a misdemeanor crime, punishable by up to six months in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Battery is a broad criminal category. Your sentencing will depend, in part, on who the victim was and, in some cases, your relationship to them. For example, battery against a protected citizen, such as a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic, can result in a longer jail sentence of up to one year. As well, if the battery actually results in serious bodily injury, you could even face prison time. Domestic battery is battery against someone whom you have or have had a close or intimate domestic relationship with. This can include a spouse or former spouse, a past or present cohabitant, a past or present girlfriend, boyfriend, or fiancé, the parent of your child, the child of the victim, or someone whom you are related to closely through blood or marriage. Domestic battery is punishable by up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. If probation is granted, the defendant may be ordered to participate in and successfully complete a batterer's treatment program or some other court-appointed counseling program for one year. In some cases, sentencing may be suspended on the contingency that the defendant successfully completes one of these court-ordered programs. Probation terms may or may not also include payments of up to $5,000 to a battered women's shelter and the payment of victim restitution, such as the costs of counseling or therapy. Repeat offenders will face harsher consequences and will be given a mandatory jail sentence in accordance with how many offenses they have.

Crucial to understanding a battery charge is being aware of the fact that the victim doesn't need to sustain any actual physical harm, as long as the defendant intended to use force or violence against the victim. No visible injury, such as a bruise or cut, is needed for domestic battery to have taken place. Force or violence must have been present, but it doesn't need to have been effective or even fully executed. Battery is the least serious of the California domestic violence charges because its lenient guidelines, but it is nevertheless a charge worth fighting. Any domestic violence charge can have serious ramifications for the defendant. If you are facing charges of domestic battery or another domestic violence charge in California, you should consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. All of California's domestic violence crimes, domestic battery included, are serious offenses that carry with them harsh sentencing. To have the best chance at fighting one of these charges, you should enlist the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney with sufficient experience handling domestic violence cases.

If you or a loved one has recently been arrested and are now being charged with domestic battery, call experienced Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can listen to your story and help you prepare a strategic defense to ensure you the best possible outcome for your case. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.