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Penal Code Section 243 e –Battery



In every household we come across petty squabbles on regular basis. However, so long as they are verbal it is absolutely fine as far as implications of lawsuit are concerned. The minute the things start getting rough and come to level of physical abuse, it becomes a matter of worry.

Domestic violence is common all over the world and we come across many cases filed in court and police complaints made to report this crime. Domestic violence is the extreme step when the victim is harmed seriously with grave wounds and bruises. Nonetheless, domestic battery is milder with no injury occurring during the action.

WHAT IS “DOMESTIC BATTERY”?

As per definition, “domestic battery” implies any unlawful and willful physical contact with the victim, even though there is no injury involved. The victim should be defendant’s former spouse, former co-habitant, mother or father of the defendant’s child, fiancé or person with whom the defendant is / was engaged or had intimate relationship.

The law is applicable for both – homo-sexual and heterosexual relationships. The co-habitant means person who has been in a live-in arrangement with the defendant on various terms like sharing finances (income & expenses), co-owner of place, the period for which they are together and sexual intimacy shared.

PENAL CODE SECTION 243 (e) (1)

Domestic battery is commonly charged crime in the court of law in California. This domestic violence act falls under Penal Code Section 243 (e) (1). The prosecutor can charge the defendant of unlawfully or willfully touching the victim in an offensive or harmful manner, not necessarily resulting in injury.

In California, domestic battery is punishable in three ways. The judge can decide on what is the most suitable punishment as per the case and argument. The act is punishable by

1. Imprisonment for up to 1 year in county jail

2. A court fine of maximum $2000

3. Community service or/and community labor

4. Informal probation of around 3 years that include classes in anger management, prohibition of taking jobs that involve caring for children / sick people, and others. This also indicates that the defendant is not permitted to be in possession of any firearms.

DEFENSE AGAINST CHARGES

It is a common practice that the defendant never consents to pleading guilty. The criminal defense lawyer will always try to safeguard his client by putting forth following arguments. Under some circumstances they are held valid by the judge and no action is taken against the defendant.

· It was an act of self defense or protecting others: Suppose a mother is hitting the child for misbehavior and the father intervenes by pushing the mother aside, then it is considered an act of defending others from bodily harm being caused to the child. In this case, it is definitely not a case of domestic battery but perceived as self defense / protection of others.

· It was a mere accident: This is another argument well put forth by the criminal defense. No doubt that there was argument between the two and by mistake if the defendant happens to touch or push aside the victim during movement, then again it cannot be an act of domestic battery as this was not a “willful” or “deliberate” act. The contact happened by mistake.

Domestic violence is on the rise and this not-so-serious act of domestic battery is enough to encourage the “victim” to file a case. If such situation arises, it is better to have an experienced lawyer to handle the criminal defense because even if the victim drops the charges, the prosecutor will go ahead with the case.

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