Domestic abuse is a term many of us are familiar with. Domestic abuse is discussed in the media at length and is the focus of many public service announcements. Domestic abuse offenses affect many Californians every year, but few people fully understand what a domestic abuse crime is and what penalties you can face. In the criminal justice system, domestic abuse is not a criminal charge in and of itself. In fact, California has multiple crimes that can be considered acts of domestic abuse. Abuse is a broad term that can include such acts as inflicting physical injury, sexual assault, making threats, stalking, destruction of property, or even simply attempting to inflict physical injury. Abuse in any of these forms is illegal when directed at anybody, but is typically considered more serious if directed toward someone whom you are close to. Domestic battery is one of California's several domestic abuse and domestic abuse related crimes.
Battery is defined as the willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another under California Penal Code 242. Simple battery is punishable by up to six months in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. If you commit domestic battery, you can face up to a year in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. You may also be ordered to complete one year of a batterer's treatment program or specialized counseling if you are granted probation and some or your entire sentence is suspended. You may also be ordered to make payments to a battered women's shelter and pay the victim of the battery restitution for medical care, counseling, or other costs directly related to the abuse. For the battery to be considered domestic battery, it must be directed at a past or present spouse, a past or present girlfriend, boyfriend, or fiancé, a cohabitant, or the parent of your child. Domestic battery is the least serious of the California domestic violence crimes. No actual physical injury need be inflicted for you to be convicted, unlike the charge of corporal injury to a spouse or intimate partner. Domestic battery must be willful and unlawful, however, so actions taken in self-defense do not constitute domestic battery.
There are a few other domestic abuse crimes in California. Some are specific to domestic abuse situation while some are crimes where anyone can be a victim. Corporal injury to a spouse or intimate partner is another domestic abuse crime. Corporal injury to a spouse or intimate partner does require that physical injury be present, unlike domestic battery. Because of this, it is a more serious crime and is typically charged as a felony, punishable by prison or jail time and/or a fine of up to $6,000. Corporal injury must result in a traumatic condition, in other words, an actual physical injury. Other domestic abuse crimes include abuse against a child or dependent elder, criminal threats, stalking, or harassment. These crimes will vary in their punishments based on the facts and circumstances of the case.
You should know that California vigorously prosecutes domestic battery and other domestic abuse crimes. There are dedicated prosecution units that strive to ensure each domestic violence offender is prosecuted and punished. Furthermore, the prosecution takes domestic abuse calls from victims very seriously and, once you are involved in a domestic violence call, the victim cannot prevent charges from being pressed on you. An experienced attorney may be able to reach the prosecutor before charges are even filed in domestic battery cases if he or she is involved your case immediately or soon after your arrest. Since no physical injury needs to be present, it is often difficult to find hard evidence of domestic battery. Even though allegations of domestic abuse are taken very seriously, the prosecution still needs evidence sufficient to convict you. It is also not uncommon for someone to be falsely accused of domestic battery. A skilled attorney can assess the evidence being held against you and may be able to negotiate a deal with the prosecution if it is in the interests of justice. In any case, speak with an attorney if you are arrested for a domestic abuse crime, including domestic battery. There may be steps you can take to defend yourself in court.
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested and are now being charged with a domestic abuse crime such as domestic battery, call experienced Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can listen to your story and help you prepare a strategic defense to help you fight your domestic abuse charge. Attorney Martens has practiced criminal defense for over ten years and can fight for your rights in court. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.