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

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

It involves a couple involved in some argument or altercation, and one party is the aggressor.  One party does something illegal because they make some physical contact angrily with 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.  Most domestic violence charges are considered misdemeanor offenses, especially for a first offense.

52-Week Domestic Violence Program

The penalties include up to six months in jail.  You'll typically have to do a 52-week domestic violence program that attends 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 place a protective order against you relative to the other party involved, and they usually want to do this at the first court appearance.

So, you start to realize that this is a severe charge with pretty serious implications because if you go to get a job. They run a background check on you; they'll see that you've got this domestic violence-related offense. You may be viewed as 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 determine the difference between Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) and Penal Code Section 273.5?.  They are very similar offenses.  The 273.5 involves 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 show there is some injury — a welt, a bruise, a cut, scratches — then they'd be able to prove this offense, assuming the person wasn't defending themselves. 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 243(e)(1) can only be charged as a misdemeanor.  So, prosecutors often offer a lesser charge of a domestic battery than 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 trespassing and disturbing the peace — even just a simple battery would be better than those two.

There are several concerns when you try to figure out how to deal with a domestic violence case. I think you start with whether or not the prosecutors will be able to prove you guilty of the crime.

In my opinion, that's the first assessment you're going to want to do with your attorney because if you decide that the prosecutors cannot find you guilty, you decide that you're innocent. If you don't want to make a deal in this case, that makes it pretty easy, at least for me.

It's pretty straightforward 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 that the client is innocent.  We're going to trial, and then I wouldn't have to get into it with them.

Potential Domestic Violence Consequences in Los Angeles

Those people who have been arrested for domestic violence are usually worried about what the potential consequences are for these types of cases.

First, you must determine whether the case will be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.  If it's charged as a misdemeanor, such as Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC domestic battery, the most jail time you could get would be one year in the county jail. 

If, on the other hand, the case is charged as a felony, such as Penal Code 273.5 PC corporal injury to a spouse, you're facing up to six years in prison. In addition, if a great bodily injury is involved, an additional three years could be tacked onto the back of your sentence.

52-Week Batterers Intervention Program

As you can see, it's essential, number one, whether the case is a felony or a misdemeanor, and that's one of the things your attorney can do – to fight for you to get that misdemeanor.

Suppose you're going to be charged with a domestic violence case.  I would hire the attorney right away.  Let them start working on it to be guided to the best possible result. 

Other potential consequences in addition to jail or prison would be the 52-week domestic violence course. But, again, that course lasts one year, once a week, with 52 classes. It must be completed if you are convicted of a domestic violence charge; whether it be a felony or a misdemeanor, it doesn't matter.

Protective Order

Another potential consequence is a protective order, which means, whomever the victim is in the case, you can be ordered to stay away from that person while the case is pending. If you get put on three years of probation, you could be ordered to stay away from the other party through a protective order. 

There are ways to get a level 1 protective order, which means you can have peaceful contact with the other party.  However, these ways are a bit complicated, and another reason why you want to get the best criminal defense attorney on your side.

Community Service and Other Programs

In addition to jail time and the domestic violence program, there are other things that you could be ordered to do, such as the following:

  • Community service,
  • Cal Trans,
  • If your case involved alcohol, they can also make you to an alcohol program,
  • They can also have you do AA so you can remain sober,
  • You could be ordered to do counseling, which is usually covered by the domestic violence program,
  • Anger management courses.

So, there's a host of things that can happen. One of the biggest things that hit you is losing your gun rights for ten years on a misdemeanor case. 

If it's a felony case, you lose your gun rights for life.  So, you start to get the idea that the consequences could be dire, and the smartest thing you can do is get the best possible criminal defense attorney on your side right away. My name is Ron Hedding.  I've been doing this for a long time.  I stand at the ready to help you.

Fighting Domestic Battery Charges

If, on the other hand, we believe after a thorough discussion that you should make 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 kind of a punishment you're facing.  We're discussing what you can and can't take based on your job, life, and 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 happens in most domestic violence cases.  The prosecutors don't care if somebody says, I don't want to prosecute the person.

They will still prosecute them and force the other party to be there through the court system.  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 wants you prosecuted.

Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

You need to evaluate what type of charge you're realistically looking at, what kind of punishment you're looking at, and what mitigating things you can do.  That's where your attorney is crucial.

I talk to people about the various mitigating things that can be done to get a better charge or get a better punishment and 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.  Worrying about what will happen with your domestic violence or spousal abuse case is nerve-racking.

So, I think you must get to an attorney if you're charged with domestic battery or any domestic battery-related offense.  I do it because I have you come in the crime 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 strategy we're going to employ so that you end up with the best result.

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