Even Touching Your Ex Can Be Domestic Battery in CA
Domestic battery is a criminal offense in the domestic violence category. Under California law it is defined as battery committed against an intimate partner. This offense, which involves harmful or offensive touching, is always charged as a misdemeanor. Domestic battery is different from domestic violence, a crime in which some injury is caused to the victim. Domestic violence may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the level of injury and the circumstances of the case.
Who Qualifies As an Intimate Partner in Domestic Battery Cases?
A person who willfully or unlawfully touches an intimate partner and inflicts force or violence commits domestic battery. In criminal law, battery is defined as a physical act that results in harmful or offensive contact with another person without that person’s consent. An intimate partner is someone with whom the defendant has had an intimate relationship. It may be:
- Defendant’s spouse or former spouse
- Defendant’s fiancé or ex-fiancé
- The other parent of defendant’s child
- Person with whom the defendant has or has had a sexual relationship
- Defendant’s current or former cohabitant
- Person the defendant is dating or has dated in the past
How Does a Prosecutor Prove Domestic Battery?
To convict a person of domestic battery, the prosecution must prove all the elements of the crime. To accomplish this, the prosecutor needs to show that:
- Defendant willfully and unlawfully touched the accuser in a harmful or offensive manner; and
- The accuser was an intimate partner of the defendant – a current or former spouse, fiancé, or cohabitant, the other parent of the defendant’s child, or a person with whom the defendant currently is or previously was in a dating or sexual relationship.
What Are the Defenses Against Domestic Battery Charges?
Defenses raised by your San Diego criminal defense lawyer will depend on the circumstances of your case. Common defenses against domestic battery charges include the following:
- It was an accident: If you battered a person accidentally, it was not domestic battery. This offense requires that the act be willful or intentional.
- You acted in self-defense or defense of another: If you reasonably believed that you or someone else would suffer great bodily injury if you failed to defend yourself or that person, it could be a defense against domestic battery. The force used in self-defense must be reasonable and not excessive and must stop when the threat subsides.
- You were falsely accused: Your accuser could have fabricated the story, claiming you did something you did not do.
- The prosecution cannot prove the charges: The prosecution has the burden to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor fails to prove you committed the crime, you cannot be convicted.
- Police misconduct or errors occurred: Your attorney may be able to have the charges dismissed if the police failed to follow proper procedures or violated your constitutional rights.
What Should You Do Before Entering a Plea on Domestic Battery Charges?
A person charged with domestic battery may accept a plea bargain at the urging of the prosecution, thinking it the lesser of two evils. Before pleading guilty to a criminal charge, it is important to consult with an experienced lawyer. A guilty plea could impact your rights and opportunities in the future.
At jD LAW, P.C., we can advise you of your available legal defenses and explain how we can fight the charges. Contact us at (760) 630-2000 to get a San Diego criminal defense attorney on your side, for a better chance of obtaining the best possible outcome in your case.
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