It is easy to get confused about certain terms in the law. For example, many people find it difficult to tell the difference between the crimes of “battery” and “domestic battery.”
Battery is a general category of crime that can include specific types of domestic violence.
California Penal Code Section 242 defines battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.1 The definition says nothing about causing an injury, and it does not require that contact was made to the bare skin of the alleged victim. The slightest, non-injurious contact can be enough to commit a battery if it is done in a rude or angry way.2
In addition, this crime is not dependent upon the relationship between the defendant and the victim. However, that is different when it comes to “domestic battery.”
Separating Battery from Domestic Battery
In California, “domestic violence” is a generic term that refers to any kind of violence you allegedly commit against a person who has a special relationship to you. These “special” relationships include:
- A current or former boyfriend or girlfriend
- A current or former fiancé(e)
- Family members
- Cohabitants (including roommates or tenants)
Consequently, a simple battery or aggravated battery committed against a person who falls into one of those categories becomes a special type of battery: domestic battery.
Under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1), it is a misdemeanor crime to inflict force or violence on the categories of people listed above. No visible injury is required to be convicted of this crime. The penalty for domestic battery is a maximum of 364 days in county jail and a fine of $2,000.
There is also an equivalent to aggravated battery when violence is used that causes injury against a person who you have a relationship with. Under California Penal Code Section 273.5, it is a crime to inflict corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant.
This crime involves the infliction of “a wound or other bodily injury, caused by the direct application of physical force.”3 This can be any visible injury, be it as minor as swelling and bruising, or as serious as broken bones, marks indicating that the victim was choked, or severe cuts.
Inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant is among the most serious battery crimes. It can be charged as a felony, which carries a possible sentence of up to four years in state prison and fines of up to $6,000.
Reduction to Lesser Crimes
Domestic violence laws have a special place in California’s legal system. The public policy behind these laws is to give special protections to these people because of their relationship to the defendant, and to severely punish persons who break these laws. As a result, prosecutors are given wide discretion to pursue the maximum possible penalties in these cases, even when the injury to the victim is minimal.
If you are charged with aggravated battery or infliction of a corporal injury against your spouse or a cohabitant, you should immediately consult with a Wallin & Klarich attorney about your legal options.
Contact Wallin & Klarich if You are Charged with Battery
If you are facing charges of battery or for a crime of domestic violence, you face a serious legal battle that could drastically alter the course of your life. You will need a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. At Wallin & Klarich, our team of attorneys has been successfully defending clients against battery and domestic violence charges for over 35 years. We will work tirelessly to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, West Covina, Torrance, Victorville and Ventura, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. Cal. Pen. Code § 242 html.href=”#ref1″>↩
2. CALCRIM 960: Simple Battery (Pen. Code, § 242) html.href=”#ref2″>↩
3. See CALCRIM 840. Inflicting Injury on Spouse, Cohabitant, or Fellow Parent Resulting in Traumatic Condition (Pen. Code, § 273.5(a)). href=”#ref3″>↩