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Spousal Battery Laws – California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC


California law defines battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. If you commit battery on persons specified under California spousal battery laws, you may be sentenced to a more severe punishment. Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC1 specifies these persons as:

  • a current spouse;
  • a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting;
  • a person who is the parent of the defendant’s child;
  • a former spouse;
  • a fiancé or fiancée; or
  • a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship.

Prosecution of Spousal Battery Charges – California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC

In order for you to be convicted of spousal battery in California, the prosecution must prove all of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You willfully and unlawfully touched the alleged victim in a harmful or offensive manner; AND
  2. The alleged victim is your current or former spouse, your current or former cohabitant, your current or former fiancé(e), someone you have a dating or engagement relationship, or someone you have a child with.

Spousal Battery Terms Defined

spousal battery - 243(e)(1) PC
Are you being prosecuted for spousal battery under 243(e)(1) PC?
  • Willfully. To act willfully means that you committed the violent act on purpose. For example, if you accidentally drop a large box of books on your spouse’s foot, it is not battery because it was done by accident.
  • Cohabitant. A cohabitant is defined as an unrelated person living with you for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of the relationship. The court will consider the following factors in determining cohabitation:
    • Whether you have a sexual relationship together in the same residence;
    • Whether you share income or expenses;
    • Whether you both use or own the same property;
    • Whether you consider yourselves spouses or romantic partners; or
    • The length or continuity of the relationship.

If you have extended relationships with multiple people, they are all considered cohabitants for the purposes of your spousal battery case.

Sentencing and Punishment for Spousal Battery Charges – California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC

If you are convicted of spousal battery under Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC, you face up to 364 days in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If you are granted probation, you must participate in a batterer’s treatment program for a minimum of one year. Under Penal Code 243(e)(2) PC, your probation may also include payments to a battered women’s shelter of up to $5,000, payments for your spouse’s counseling and other expenses arising from the original offense.

Possible Defenses to Charges of Spousal Battery Under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC

punishment for spousal battery
If you are convicted of spousal battery under 243(e)(1) PC, you face serious jail time. However, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to raise several defenses in your case.

If you have been charged with committing spousal battery under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to raise several defenses on your behalf. Some of these defenses may include:

  • Self-defense. If you willfully touch or injure another in the course of protecting yourself or another person from harm, you have acted in self-defense or in the defense of another and cannot be found guilty of battery.
  • False allegations. If you did not willfully or unlawfully touch the alleged victim in a harmful or offensive manner, you should not be convicted of this crime. Your attorney may be able to challenge the credibility of the alleged victim’s or witness’ testimony in your case.
  • Insufficient evidence. In order to be convicted of spousal battery, you must have made harmful or unlawful physical contact with the alleged victim. If there is no evidence of physical contact, a skilled attorney may be able to challenge the validity of the allegations.

Frequently Asked Questions on Spousal Battery Under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC

At Wallin & Klarich, we often receive questions from clients facing charges of spousal battery in California. Some of these include:

What is the difference between assault and battery?

Under California Penal Code 240 PC2, an assault is the mere attempt to commit a violent injury on the person of another. No contact must be made for an assault to occur, but there must be a real threat (or the present ability) to constitute an act of violence. On the other hand, there must be actual physical contact for an act to be considered battery.

What is considered a dating relationship?

California Penal Code 243(f)(10) PC3 defines a dating relationship as any relationship involving frequent and intimate interactions, including affectionate gestures or sexual relations.

What if I did not intend to commit battery on my spouse?

Even if you did not have the intent to break the law, cause pain to someone, or gain any advantage, you can still be found guilty of battery. Only the fact that the act was done on purpose matters.

What if I did not actually hurt my spouse when I touched them?

Any contact, no matter how slight, with another person may constitute battery if it is done in a rude or angry way. For example, if you push your spouse on the shoulder during a heated argument, you may be convicted of battery even if your spouse suffered no harm or injury.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today If You Have Been Charged with Spousal Battery

partners 2015 - spousal battery
Contact the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today if you have been charged with spousal battery under 243(e)(1) PC.

If you are facing charges of spousal battery under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC, you need to speak to an experienced attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, we have over 30 years of experience in successfully defending those charged with spousal battery. Our skilled attorneys will work tirelessly to build a strong defense strategy in order to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With office locations in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.


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