California Penal Code §243 (e)(1) makes it unlawful to commit a battery against someone that you have some familial relationship with. It differs from the general definition of battery as it specifically defines the relationships the person being charged, and the alleged victim have. If they do not share a relationship specified under this code section, is it not a domestic violence batter.
To understand the components of a domestic violence battery, it is important to read the code section under which it is defined. California Penal Code §242 defines battery as a “willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another”.
California Penal Code §243 simply defines the relationships that will cause it to be considered domestic violence. To be charged as domestic violence, the person being charged and the alleged victim must be one of the following:
- A spouse
- A person with whom the defendant is cohabiting,
- A person who is the parent of the defendant’s child,
- Former spouse, fiance, or fiancee,
- A person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship
The California Penal Code §243 (e)(1) in addition to defining the relationships, also specifies the range of potential consequences a person who has been convicted under this code section may face. The potential consequences are a fine not to exceed $2,000 and imprisonment not to exceed one year in county jail, or both. In addition, it is necessary that the person who has been charged attend a batterer’s intervention program which is generally a 52 week program.
It may seem strange that the potential sentence is defined by the statue as a range, and is not specifically stated. That is because each case is different. The background facts for each case and each persons criminal history will vary, and one set sentence may not be suitable for each case. It is up to the Judge’s and the Prosecutor’s discretion as to what the sentence will be.
It is very important to note that for a person to be charged and convicted of battery, it is not necessary that the alleged victim suffer from any actual injury.
Let’s consider an example. Harry, and his wife, Wendy, have an argument one night. Out of anger Harry yells at Wendy and throws a beer bottle at the wall directly behind her. The beer bottle nearly misses Wendy head, and shatters behind her. Wendy calls the cops as she is scared and Harry is arrested and charged with domestic violence battery. Harry has no previous criminal record, and this is the first time he has been charged with any criminal offense.
Harry can still be tried for domestic violence battery, even if Wendy was never touched or harmed. Harry acted with violence and force. If Harry is convicted, his charge will be on the lower end of the scale because he has no criminal history, Wendy was not significantly harmed, and the facts were fairly straightforward, without any serious injury.
If you face a domestic violence charge, do not delay, immediately contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case.