Domestic Battery – California Penal Code 243(e)(1)

This is a misdemeanor charge for domestic violence or spousal abuse.  It can either be between boyfriend and girlfriend, girlfriend and girlfriend, boyfriend and boyfriend.  It doesn’t really matter.

It really just has to do with a couple who get involved in some sort of an argument or altercation and one party is the aggressor.  One party does something illegal in the sense that they make some sort of physical contact in an angry manner against the other person.

This particular Penal Code Section does not require that the prosecutors prove that there’s an injury.  So, if you shove somebody, you hit them, you push them — even if you strike them — if the police come and there’s no injury, but they still believe that you did something physical to the individual, you could be arrested under Penal Code Section 243(e)(1).  You could be prosecuted.  It’s a misdemeanor.

52-Week Domestic Violence Program

The penalties include up to six months in jail.  You’re typically going to have to do a 52-week domestic violence program which is attending once a week for a year.  You’ll usually be put on three years of probation.  You’ll have a weapon ban for ten years if you’re convicted of this crime.  The prosecutors will typically also put a protective order in place against you relative to the other party that was involved and they usually want to do this at the first court appearance.

So, you start to get the realization that this is a pretty serious charge with pretty serious implication because if you go to get a job and they run a background check on you they’re going to see that you’ve got this domestic violence-related offense and you may be viewed as somebody who is dangerous, violent, quick-to-anger or whatever other stereotypes come along with this type of an offense.

Misdemeanor vs Felony Domestic Violence

One thing that confuses people is that they can’t figure out what the difference is between Penal Code Section 253.(e)(1) and Penal Code Section 2735.  They are very similar offenses.  The 273.5 has to do with a domestic violence case usually involving married people when that offense is charged.Domestic Battery - California Penal Code 243(e)(1)

Also, for that offense, the prosecutors need to actually show there is some sort of an injury — a welt, a bruise, a cut, scratches — then they’d be able to prove this offense, assuming the person wasn’t defending themselves and they got mad and attacked the other person.

Another difference between these two Penal Code Sections is that 273.5 can be charged as a felony.  Whereas, the 243.(e)(1) can only be charged as a misdemeanor.  So, a lot of times prosecutors will offer a lesser charge of a domestic battery  instead of a 273.5.

In my experience and opinion, I think that would be a better offer but it’s still very close to a domestic violence charge.  Offers, in my opinion, that would be a lot better than a 273.5 or even a 243.E1 would be a trespassing, a disturbing the peace — even just a simple battery would be better than those two.

When you try to figure out how you’re going to deal with one of these domestic violence cases there are a number of concerns.  I think you start with whether or not the prosecutors are going to be able to prove you guilty of the crime.

That’s the first assessment in my opinion that you’re going to want to do with your attorney because if you decide that the prosecutors cannot find you guilty or you decide that you’re innocent and you don’t want to take a deal in the case, then that makes it pretty easy, at least for me.

It’s pretty straight-forward because we know that we’re going to trial.  We don’t even need to talk about the different Penal Code Sections that you could be convicted of, that the prosecutors could drop the case to, because my answer to the prosecutors is, the client is innocent.  We’re going to trial and then I wouldn’t have to get into it with them.

Fighting Domestic Battery Charges

If on the other hand, we believe after a thorough discussion that you should take a deal on the case because they’ve got the evidence to prove you committed a crime, now we need to move to the next step and start talking about what type of a charge you would have to plead guilty or no-contest to, and secondly, what type of a punishment you’re facing.  We’re talking about what you can and can’t take based on your job, your life and your situation.

But, just burying your head and saying the other party doesn’t want me prosecuted so I’m not even going to worry about an attorney is not the best strategy because that’s what happens in most domestic violence cases.  The prosecutors really don’t care if somebody says, I don’t want to prosecute the person.

They’re still going to prosecute them and they will force through the court system the other party to be there.  They’ll issue a subpoena on them.  They’ll send the police out to threaten them to make them come to court.  They don’t care in most cases whether or not the person really wants you prosecuted or not.

Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

You really need to evaluate what type of a charge you’re realistically looking at; what type of a punishment you’re looking at and what mitigating things you can do.  That’s where your attorney is crucial.

I talk to people all the time about the various mitigating things that can be done to get a better charge or get a better punishment and to get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible and that’s probably one of the most important things that most people want.  They don’t want to be involved in the criminal justice system.

It takes time.  It takes money.  It’s nerve-racking worrying about what’s going to happen with your domestic violence or spousal abuse case.

So, I think it’s crucial that if you’re charged with domestic battery, or any type of domestic battery-related offense, get to an attorney.  The way that I do it is I have you come in the offense with your paperwork.  We sit down and talk about your whole situation from the beginning to the end and then we decide what type of a strategy we’re going to employ so that you end up with the best result.