Posted on March 11, 2017

Domestic Battery Q&A

There are two forms of domestic battery: domestic battery and domestic battery with corporal injury. Both forms of domestic battery include an unlawful touching, but differ in their requirements involving injury. The purported victim must share some form of personal or familial relationship with the defendant, otherwise the charge would be simple battery. The difference between the two charges are as follows:

  • Domestic Battery: Domestic battery is charged under Penal Code 243(e)(1) pc making it unlawful to unlawfully touch another without their consent. This charge can be accomplished by simply grabbing another by the arm or pushing someone without any visible injury.
  • Corporal Injury: Domestic battery with corporal injury is governed under Penal Code 273.5(a) pc making it unlawful to physically touch another which causes that person to be placed in a traumatic condition. This is a more elevated form of simple domestic battery because of the level of injury the District Attorney is required to prove. Choking, loss of consciousness, cuts, or some form of bleeding is ordinarily sufficient to warrant this charge.

Is Domestic Battery a Felony or Misdemeanor?

It depends. Domestic battery is a misdemeanor offense only. However, corporal injury is a wobbler offense that is punishable as either a felony or misdemeanor. Ordinarily, the level of injury is the telling factor when determining felony or misdemeanor conduct. For instance, a broken bone would likely result in felony charges whereas minor bruises is consistent with misdemeanor conduct. If the injury characterized as great bodily injury, then prosecutor may elect to allege an enhancement elevating the crime to a serious felony – strike offense.

Does Domestic Battery Require Physical Injury?

Domestic battery does not require any physical or visible injury. Simply pushing your roommate or grabbing their arm in a rude or angry manner will result in this charge. However, corporal injury requires physical injury – i.e., the purported victim must have suffered a traumatic condition.

How Can I Prepare to Defend Domestic Violence Charges?

The first step is to contact an experienced Orange County domestic violence attorney to discuss the incident. Early intervention can help preserve critical evidence that may be subject to destruction – e.g., video surveillance footage. In addition, gather all witness information is critical for a defense investigator to contact to obtain statements. Often, domestic violence charges are based solely upon the single statement of the alleged victim without any corroborating evidence. Furthermore, make sure to instruct a third person to photograph all your injuries, such as bruises, cuts, or other markings for your attorney to review. Lastly, there are several methods of avoiding court intervention by contacting the prosecuting attorney early before they elect to file formal charges.

What Happens at the First Court Appearance?

The first court appearance will be the arraignment. The court will provide an official charge sheet listing every allegation against you. The prosecutor will turn over their initial discovery consisting of police reports, photographs, or audio recordings. Any additional information must be informally requested. At this hearing, the prosecutor will move to impose a protective order (or “restraining order”) barring all contact with your accuser. This order will remain in effect until the conclusion of your case.

What is the Punishment for Domestic Battery?

Any domestic violence conviction carries life-time consequences. It is punishable by up to one (1) year in the county jail. A felony conviction carries up to four (4) years in state prison. The court typically imposes a term of probation mandating anger management and domestic violence counseling. In lieu of jail, you be ordered to complete community service or community labor. If your accuser suffered any economic losses – e.g., medical bills, you will be order to pay restitution to cover the alleged victim’s medical expenses.

How will Domestic Battery Affect my Record?

If you were arrested and booked into the jail, then your formal criminal record will reveal the notation that you were arrested for domestic battery. Any conviction within the court will be transmitted to the California Department of Justice updating your record to reflect that you were convicted of the crime. Consequently, prospective employers or licensing agency may have access to your criminal record and it could negatively affect your chances of gaining employment or earning a professional license. Furthermore, your record will subject you to scrutiny along with the social stigma of always being labeled as a domestic violence offender.

Can I Legally Own a Firearm If I’m Convicted?

Unfortunately, any conviction for domestic violence, including domestic battery, carries a life-time restriction from your owning or possessing a firearm. Contrary to popular belief, an expungement will not later restore your ability to possess a firearm. The only avenue for relief is to file an application for governor’s pardon.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been arrested or charged with domestic battery under penal code 243(e)(1) pc or other related domestic violence charge, there’s no question that you need to consult with a respected and experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers today to schedule your free confidential case evaluation.

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