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 has to do with 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.  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 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 pretty 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 somebody 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 the difference between Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) and Penal Code Section 273.5?.  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 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 will often 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 trespassing, a disturbing the peace — even just a simple battery would be better than those two.

When you try to figure out how you will deal with one of these domestic violence cases, there are several concerns.  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 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. If you don't want to make a deal in the 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 too 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.

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 talking about 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's what 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 they will 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 or not.

See related: How Can You Be Found Not Guilty in a Domestic Violence Case?

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.  It's nerve-racking to worry about what will happen with your domestic violence or spousal abuse case.

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.

See related: How Can You Challenge a Domestic Violence Protective Order?