Using force against an intimate partner is considered a severe offense in California. It attracts a lengthy prison time and a hefty fine for those found guilty. A conviction for domestic battery is also life-altering and could affect various aspects of your life, including employment and social life. If you have been arrested for domestic battery in Southern California — Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, and San Bernardino, it is advisable to try fighting your charges. An earlier release from jail gives you enough time to gather evidence and plan a strong defense. At 24 Hour Online Bail Bonds, we will ensure that you are not spending more time behind bars than you should.
Legal Definition of California Domestic Battery
Domestic battery is a form of domestic violence in California. The offense is committed against an intimate partner, including a spouse and registered partner, and involves unnecessary force or violence. You can still be found guilty of domestic violence even without causing your partner pain or injuries. The prosecutor only needs to demonstrate in court that you used violence or force against the other person. To understand the offense even better, let us look at its elements.
These are the facts the prosecutor must prove in court beyond a reasonable doubt for you to be found guilty of domestic battery:
- That you willfully touched another person in an offensive or harmful manner — This will constitute the crime of battery.
- That the other person was your intimate partner
- That you didn’t act the way you did out of self-defense or in defense of another person
Let us break down this definition further to understand better the elements of this offense.
A Willful Touch
Domestic battery requires the offender to have acted willfully and in an offensive or harmful manner. As used under this law, a willful act is done willingly or on purpose. However, you do not need to have intended to commit a crime, injure the other person or gain an advantage over them.
An Offensive or Harmful Touch
The prosecutor must demonstrate that you touched the other person in an offensive or harmful way. Again, it doesn’t mean that you inflicted pain or physical injury on the victim. It means that even the slightest touch can sustain domestic battery charges as long as it was done in an offensive or harmful manner.
Example: A verbal exchange between two people in a relationship will not be considered domestic battery. But if one of them pushes angrily at another as he/she tries to get out of the argument, that push could sustain domestic battery charges because it was done angrily or rudely.
Note that this offensive or harmful touch doesn’t have to be direct. An indirect touch can also sustain domestic battery charges if it satisfies all the other offense elements. An indirect contact could be accomplished through an object or another person. For instance, angrily throwing an object at a person you are in an intimate relationship with could result in domestic battery charges.
An Intimate Partner
Domestic battery involves an intimate partner as the victim of the offense. Under this law, an intimate partner will be any of the following persons:
- A current or former spouse
- The person you are/were living or cohabiting with
- A person you are/were engaged to
- Your child’s other parent
- A person you are in an intimate, sexual, or dating relationship with, currently or formerly.
Additionally, an intimate partner can be your partner in any of the following relationships:
- Heterosexual relationship
- Same-sex relationship
Remember that a cohabitant is any person you are not related to but have been staying together for a considerable period. It means that there is some form of permanency in your relationship. Note that one person might be cohabiting with more than one person simultaneously and during the same period.
A dating relationship is an intimate or frequent association expected to yield sexual involvement or affection without financial considerations.
What Causes Domestic Battery Arrest?
When the police are called because of a domestic violence situation, they must make an arrest. Officers do not always have the time to question the partners to determine the one to arrest. Therefore, they must consider certain factors, like:
- The person who called the police
- The one who appears more upset
- The one who is injured if the incident resulted in a physical injury.
Sometimes the police make a mistake, and other times they are biased. That is why it is possible to find yourself arrested and facing domestic battery charges while, in the real sense, you are innocent. If you are in that situation, it is best to contact a reliable bail bond agent that could secure your release from jail. That way, you will regain your freedom and enough time to plan for your defense in court.
Penalties for a California Domestic Battery Conviction
Domestic battery is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in California, punishable by:
- A maximum of one year behind bars
- A fine of not more than $1,000
- Summary or misdemeanor probation in the place of incarceration
If the judge grants you probation, you will be required to complete an intervention program for batterers, also called batterers’ treatment or domestic violence program. In the absence of a batterers program, the court will recommend a suitable counseling program that you must attend.
The judge will also issue a protective or domestic violence order to caution you against threatening, harming, or harassing the alleged victim.
Additionally, a conviction for domestic battery will affect your gun rights. Adults above 21 years in California are allowed to possess, own or buy a gun. However, your gun rights could be affected by several factors, including a conviction for a serious criminal offense. Therefore, if you are convicted for domestic battery, the judge will issue a 10-year ban on possessing, owning, or purchasing a gun, according to California PC 29805.
A domestic battery conviction will also affect your social and career life. For instance, if you spend some time behind bars, you might end up losing your job. Again, a criminal record might make it hard for you to find suitable employment. Potential employers are likely to shy away from hiring you because of your criminal conviction.
The good news is that you can have the conviction expunged from your criminal record to start life afresh. But the law will only allow this if you have completed your jail term or probation. An expunged record will not be available to the public. Therefore, you might have an easier time finding a job after the expungement.
Best Legal Defense Strategies against Domestic Battery Charges
Domestic battery is a grave offense whose conviction can affect your life in so many ways. Therefore, if you face charges for domestic battery, it could help fight those charges to avoid a conviction. The help of an experienced criminal attorney goes a long way in ensuring that your rights are protected. An attorney will also utilize the best available defense strategies to compel the court to either drop or reduce your charges. Some of the defense strategies that could help your case are:
You Acted in Self-Defense
You might have acted the way you did in self-defense or defense for another person. If that’s the case, your attorney will use a self-defense strategy to have the court drop your charges. However, the court will only accept this defense if it is convinced beyond any doubt that you needed to use force or violence against the other person to defend yourself or someone else.
First, you must have believed that you were in imminent danger and that some bit of force was necessary to protect you or another person from harm. The court will also want to establish that the amount of force you used against the alleged victim was appropriate and not more than was required under the circumstances. If your attorney convinces the court of your good intentions, the judge will drop your charges.
You Didn’t Act Willfully
The touch must have been done willfully for you to be found guilty of domestic battery. As earlier mentioned, a willful act is done willingly or on purpose. If it was accidental, you might not be guilty as charged. It is not unusual for a person to accidentally touch another one, and their actions are interpreted as offensive or rude. For instance, if there was already a misunderstanding between a couple, any action one takes against the other could be misinterpreted as offensive or harmful.
Example: Mary and John are arguing in their house one evening. As the argument intensifies, Mary decides to leave the house to cool down, even for a few minutes. She accidentally pushes John as she storms out in anger. John hits the floor hard but doesn’t sustain any physical injuries. From her actions, Mary did not willfully push her husband down. If John calls the police on her, the court may not find Mary guilty of domestic battery since her actions were not willful.
Domestic battery charges could also suffice out of false accusations. Some people falsely accuse others, which could lead to false charges for severe offenses like domestic battery. For instance, an angry partner or former fiancée could have accused you out of jealousy, anger, or a desire for revenge. Without proper defense, you might end up paying for an offense you did not commit in the first place.
Numerous emotional situations happen between intimate partners. Some of them could cause one partner to falsely accuse the other of a crime that never occurred. If that is what happened, you need a competent attorney to investigate and develop a strong defense against your charges. You also need enough time out of jail to gather the evidence, find witnesses, and any supporting evidence that could convince the court of your innocence.
California Domestic Battery and Related offenses
California laws have certain offenses that are prosecuted in place of or together with domestic battery. Some of them are:
Corporal Injury on a Spouse
Domestic battery and corporal injury on a spouse are similar offenses, but you can only be charged with one or the other. Domestic injury on a spouse is under California PC 273.5. You commit this offense when you inflict a corporal injury on a former or current spouse, co-parent, cohabitant, or dating partner. Like in domestic battery, you must have willfully committed the offense to be found guilty.
The difference between domestic battery and corporate injury on a spouse is that the latter involves inflicting an actual physical injury, resulting in a traumatic condition. A traumatic condition is a bodily injury caused by a direct application of physical force. Examples are a concussion, sprain, bruise, broken bone, or internal bleeding.
California PC 273.5 is a wobbler, meaning that it is prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, you could receive a jail term of one year. But as a felony, you might receive a prison time of four years, with a maximum fine of $6,000.
As under California PC 243, aggravated battery is a form of battery that results in serious physical injury. The offense is committed the same way as domestic battery, by striking or touching another person in an offensive or harmful manner. Both aggravated battery and domestic battery involve a willful act. However, charges for aggravated battery can include any other person other than an intimate partner.
Aggravated battery is a wobbler offense in California. It means that the prosecutor can charge it as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the injury and the offender’s criminal history. If convicted as a misdemeanor, you could receive a maximum of one year in jail. But as a felony, you might be sentenced to four years in prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000
The Need for Bail Bond Services After a Domestic Violence Arrest
If you have been arrested for domestic battery, the police might keep you in jail much longer than necessary if they feel that you are a threat to the alleged victim or someone else. However, the law grants you the right to post bail for your earlier release as you await trial. Many people can post bail for their release, except for those whose bail amount is more than they can afford.
Posting bail allows you to go back to your life, gather evidence, and prepare well for trial. It also allows you enough time to hire the right criminal attorney to represent you in court.
If your bail is more than you can afford, a bail bondsman can secure your release from jail for a small percentage of your bail amount. However, you must honor your court dates to avoid forfeiting the bail amount.
Look for a bail bondsman that is affordable and offers flexible payment options, payment plans, and financing. An arrest comes when you least expect it. It also means that you were not ready to post bail. Thus, you may not be well prepared to hire a bail bondsman. That is why you should inquire about their charges and mode of payment before signing the agreement. An affordable bail bonds company that offers flexible payment plans will make payment easier for you. Also, be sure about the total costs you’ll be expected to pay to avoid any additional costs that could increase the service costs in the end.
You also want to engage the services of a company that understands the need for confidentiality, especially in legal matters. A bonds company should be non-judgmental and should be able to keep matters private between them and the client. No one needs to know about your agreement or the legal issues you are facing.
Be sure to work with a company that is easy to reach, whether online or over the phone. You want to be able to contact your bail bonds agent anytime. The police make criminal arrests any time of the day or night. It’s impossible to tell when your arrest will happen. It could be in the middle of the night, early in the morning, or even over the weekend. A reliable bail bonds company can respond to you regardless of the time of day. It is even better to work with a bail bondsman that operates 24-hours every day. This way, you can be sure of quick help, notwithstanding your time of the arrest.
Find 24-hour Online Bail Bonds Services Near Me
If you’ve been arrested for domestic violence in Southern California — Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, and San Bernardino, you don’t have to remain in custody until the day of your trial. The law allows you to post bail for your release from jail, provided you honor your court dates. If you cannot afford to post bail, seek the help of a reliable bail bondsman near you. At 24 Hour Online Bail Bonds, we will ensure that you are not staying in custody longer than you should. Contact us at 800-930-8999 and let us begin the bail process.