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Domestic Battery: California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1)

We handle criminal cases in Santa Rosa, Napa, San Rafael, Lakeport, Ukiah, & Eureka

  • Domestic battery is its own crime with its own requirements and carries a punishment greater than a simple battery.
  • The increased punishment has been established in recognition of society's particular disdain for this area of violence. Parts of the law are clear in this regard:
    “The Legislature finds and declares that these specified crimes merit special consideration when imposing a sentence so as to display society's condemnation for these crimes of violence upon victims with whom a close relationship has been formed.” [1]
  • Domestic battery is the crime of simple battery committed on someone with whom you have (or used to have) a specific type of close relationship.

Elements of the Crime (What it takes to be convicted)

  • In order to be convicted of domestic battery, the prosecution must first show beyond every reasonable doubt that you have committed a simple battery. See Elements of Simple Battery.
  • The prosecution must then prove that the person that you committed battery against was [2]:
    • Your spouse (or former spouse)
    • Your cohabitant (or former cohabitant)
      • The term cohabitants means two unrelated persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of the relationship. [3] Factors that may determine whether people are cohabiting or have cohabitated include, but are not limited to [4]:
        • sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same residence;
        • sharing of income or expenses;
        • joint use or ownership of the property;
        • the parties' holding themselves out as (husband and wife/domestic partners);
        • the continuity of the relationship; AND
        • the length of the relationship.
      • A person may cohabit simultaneously with two or more people at different locations, during the same time frame, if he or she maintains substantial ongoing relationships with each person and lives with each person for significant periods. [5]
    • Your fiancée (or former fiancée)
    • A person you have or had a dating or engagement relationship with
      • The term dating relationship means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement independent of financial considerations. [6]
    • The mother/father of your child
      • A person is considered to be the mother or father of another person's child if the alleged male parent is presumed under the law to be the natural father. [7]

Defenses to a Domestic Battery Charge

Experienced domestic violence attorneys in Santa Rosa, Napa, Lakeport, Ukiah, San Rafael and Eureka can provide substantial insight into these types of defenses regarding the required elements of the crime.

Punishment for a Domestic Battery Conviction

If convicted of domestic battery, you may face:

  • A fine of up to $2,000; OR
  • Imprisonment in a county jail for up to 1 year; OR
  • Both a fine of up to $2,000 and imprisonment in a county jail for up to 6 months.

Remember, Ronald Dinan and Associates, is a firm of experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyers, who can help in achieving the best outcome in your case. Many times criminal case dispositions will include reduction or outright dismissal of the number and/or severity of criminal charges, diversion programs, probation, reduced fines with installment payments, alternatives to jail, etc.

To get immediate help with your legal matter, we invite you to call us at one of our conveniently located offices to discuss your case. We answer all telephone calls in a polite, professional, and helpful manner.

  • Santa Rosa  707-294-1968
  • Napa             707-927-1056
  • Marin            415-570-4810
  • Lakeport       707-294-1629
  • Ukiah             707-294-1960
  • Eureka           707-294-1968

Related Offenses

The Law Itself: California Penal Code Section

§ 243. Punishment for battery generally; Punishment for battery against specified officers or others


(1) When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant's child, former spouse, fiance, or fiancee, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of the sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that the defendant participates in, for no less than one year, and successfully complete, a batterer's treatment program, as described in Section 1203.097, or if none is available, another appropriate counseling program designated by the court. However, this provision shall not be construed as requiring a city, a county, or a city and county to provide a new program or higher level of service as contemplated by Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution. [8]

[1] Cal. Penal Code §243(e)(4)

[2] Cal Penal Code §243(e)(1)

[3] Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, 1-800 CALCRIM 841

[4] Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, 1-800 CALCRIM 841

[5] Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, 1-800 CALCRIM 841

[6] Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, 1-800 CALCRIM 841

[7] Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, 1-800 CALCRIM 841

[8] Cal Penal Code §243(e)(1)

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