From a legal perspective, committing assault or battery, or making a criminal threat against another individual is illegal. However, when the victim is a cohabitant, dating partner, engaged partner, fiancé, parent of a child, or a spouse, it is referred to as “domestic violence” and is a serious allegation. Almost every California District Attorney’s office has a special group or unit that has dedicated themselves to the prosecution of these cases. In some instances, the accuser will insist on recanting the charges or dropping them. However, the prosecution unit will usually proceed anyway.
Types of Domestic Violence
In the state of California, a person can be charged with the crime of domestic violence in any of the following ways:
Aggravated domestic battery – according to Section 243(d) of the California Penal Code, you will be charged with this form of domestic violence if you inflict serious bodily injury on an individual by committing battery. The degree or seriousness of the injuries that the victim sustains will determine if it’s aggravated or simple domestic battery.
Corporal injury to cohabitant or spouse – Section 273.5 of the California Penal Code refers to this form of domestic battery as the willful infliction of physical injuries to an intimate partner thereby resulting in a traumatic condition. In other words, this charge is limited to a:
current or former cohabitant
father or mother of a defendant child
former spouse of the defendant
These charges cannot be brought against an individual that you are or were dating, or to whom you were engaged, if they do not fall under one of the above categories. Furthermore, unlike the other two types of domestic violence, the victim must have suffered with a traumatic condition. In this case, “traumatic condition” is defined under California Penal Code § 273.5(d) as a minor or serious bodily injury or wound that has resulted from the application of physical force.
Simple domestic battery – this falls under Section 243 (e)(1) of the California Penal Code. This states that simple domestic battery is when a person “inflicts force or violence to their intimate partner.” In this case, your intimate partner is defined as:
the person you are or were dating, the parent of your child, or your current or former cohabitant, fiancé, or spouse.
Domestic battery or domestic violence is a very complex area of Family Law and usually requires the interpretation skills of a family law attorney. In many cases, temporary restraining orders will be issued to prevent the accused from doing more harm than he or she already has. This becomes important for the safety and security of the partner. In many cases, if left unattended, it can lead to serious injuries and even fatalities. In addition to this, Strong Family Law often sees domestic violence cases that lead to legal separation and/or divorce.
An experienced and skilled defense attorney knows that there are two defenses that can be used to defend a person from domestic violence charges including:
Accidental battery – the battery must occur by intentional or willful force in order for the person to be convicted of domestic violence. Therefore, if the person is injured accidentally or unintentionally, the person would not be guilty as charged. However, if the case is reported, legal representation is a must.
Defense of another or self-defense – a charge of domestic violence can be dropped if the person was defending another person or themselves. However, the force used to repel the assault or battery must be proportionate to it, in other words, not excessive or unreasonable in response to the threat. However, you will need lawyer to defend your rights.
In most California counties, a charge of domestic violence will result in a significant fine and jail time. This holds true even if it is the person’s first misdemeanor. Unfortunately, there are times when innocent individuals are wrongly accused and they will need an experienced defense attorney. For more information regarding California’s domestic violence laws, contact Strong Family Law today.