Domestic Violence Charges Without Visible Injuries in Orange County
It is a widely accepted misconception that California PC 243 domestic violence refers to hitting or any other act that results in serious injury. Due to this misconception, you could find yourself making statements to the police that will be used to incriminate you in court.
Of the three types of domestic violence crimes that you can be charged with in California, domestic battery is the least severe. Domestic battery charges apply where you use unlawful force against someone you are having an intimate relationship with. The intensity of the force used does not matter and the battery doesn’t need to have left any marks.
For instance, assume that you and your spouse got into a heated argument and you push him or her with what you later describe to the police as ‘not much force’ or ‘a gentle shove.’ Even if your spouse did not suffer any injuries or pain, charges of domestic battery can be brought against you under penal code section 243(e)(1).
Comparison of domestic battery and other domestic violence crimes
As domestic battery is a misdemeanor offence, it carries a sentence of 1 year in county jail and a fine of $2000. Note that this type of domestic violence crime is not just restricted to a spouse but encompasses anyone else you are having an intimate relationship with.
Domestic battery compares with other domestic violence crimes as follows:
1. Aggravated Battery
Charges of aggravated battery apply when serious bodily injury has been caused to someone who is not your intimate partner.
Let’s suppose you come home to find your spouse or partner in bed with someone else. You punch this other party in the face and leave him (or her) with a swollen eye and a broken nose. The charge cannot be filed as domestic battery or corporal injury because the person you abused is not intimate with you, hence aggravated domestic battery under California Penal Code Section 243(d) stands as the appropriate charge.
2. Willful Infliction of Corporal Injury:
Unlike domestic battery, charges of infliction of injury are only limited to a spouse, former or present, cohabitant, former or present, and co-parent, and does not include someone you are or were dating, or are or were engaged to.
Unlike domestic battery, the abused party needs to have suffered a visible injury.
In the example given above, if you instead punched your spouse (or partner) and left him or her with a broken nose and a swollen eye, you can be prosecuted under California penal code section 273.5.
The prosecution’s domestic battery case
To be charged with domestic battery, the prosecutor has to prove:
- You deliberately made physical contact with the accuser in a manner that is unlawful and offensive
- You and the accuser are in any one of these relationships:
- Former spouse
- Someone you cohabited with formerly
- Current or former fiancé
- Someone you are currently dating or previously dated
- Someone you have had a child with
Possible defenses in domestic battery
After being charged with domestic violence, your attorney may defend you as follows, depending on your circumstances and the details that you share with her:
- It was an act of self defense
Your lawyer could argue that your actions were carried out in defense of yourself or other people. For this defense to apply, the amount of force you used has to be reasonable and it should also be apparent that you stopped as soon as you eliminated the threat.
For example, if your wife was physically punishing your child with excessive force and you intervened by pushing her away, causing her to fall and hit her head, your lawyer could argue that your actions were justified because you were defending your child.
Your lawyer could also argue that the battery was accidental if the circumstances show that you did not willfully apply force.
The key thing to remember when police become involved is that even if you don’t think a situation is serious, you shouldn’t make any remarks that indicate you admit wrongdoing. Rather, consult with a lawyer immediately to protect your individual rights.