Domestic battery law in California covers a wide range of potential offenses. This law makes it unlawful to cause injury to anyone considered an intimate partner. An intimate partner could be a former or current spouse, domestic partner, and cohabitant, among others. It makes no difference if the victim of the act did not suffer any apparent injuries; domestic battery is simply proven if one person intentionally touches their intimate partner in a harmful or offensive manner.

If you are involved in a domestic battery case, you can contact the Restraining Order Law Firm. Our knowledgeable Los Angeles attorneys will offer you legal counsel and ensure that your constitutional rights are upheld.

Understanding Domestic Battery Under California Law

According to California Penal Code 243(e)(i), domestic battery refers to any intentional, unlawful, hurtful, or offensive touching of someone with whom you are in an intimate relationship. Even though spousal battery is a prevalent word used to describe domestic battery, under PEN 243(e)(i), domestic battery does not have to be perpetrated only against a defendant's spouse. Instead, it can apply to any incident of violence between persons who are or were romantically involved.

Intimate partners could be someone's current or previous spouse, former or current cohabitant, former or current fiancée, former or current partner, or somebody with whom an individual shares a child.

Given that the law only needs the application of force on a spouse or dating partner for that act to be labeled domestic battery, a defendant could still be convicted of this offense even though their purported victim shows no signs of physical injuries. This is what differentiates domestic battery defined under California PEN 243(e)(i) and domestic violence resulting in serious bodily injury under PEN 273.5.

Domestic battery isn't a light offense to cope with since it includes violence and abuse occurring between individuals who are in or have been in romantic relationships. Unfortunately, people in failed relationships often resort to falsely accusing their current or ex-partner of domestic violence as a means of vengeance, especially because it is an act that is typically perpetrated in the absence of eyewitnesses.

Elements Required to Prove Domestic Battery

IForsomeone to be found guilty of domestic violence, it must be established that what they did truly qualifies as a domestic battery offense under California law. A domestic battery offense may not always apply to violent acts committed against intimate partners. The following elements must be satisfied for an act to be considered domestic battery:

  • The alleged inappropriate contact should have been damaging or insulting in some recognizable way for there to be an allegation of such conduct.
  • The individual who allegedly touched the victim in question should have done this deliberately.
  • The individual charged with perpetrating the allegedly unlawful contact is considered the victim's intimate partner described in the previous section.

Offensive or Harmful Touchin

For someone to be convicted of domestic battery in California, it has to be demonstrated that the contact was offensive and/or harmful to the victim. For contact to be deemed offensive as per California laws, it needs to be perpetrated in a way that is disrespectful, aggressive, angry, or rude. As a result, not all types of unwanted contact are considered a form of domestic battery; rather, the legal description of a domestic battery act only includes contact that is offensive or harmful.

What Qualifies as Touching?

According to the law, "touching" does not always indicate that the defendant placed a certain body part onto someone else's body. Touching is defined as any intentional use of forceful contact against another individual, even if this application of force doesn't seem particularly harmful or dangerous. If someone spits on someone else, this can be considered touching, and if the act was harmful or offensive and it satisfies the other conditions listed below, then this can be prosecuted as domestic battery.

Also, touching might include throwing something at a spouse or partner or striking them with it. Domestic violence charges can be filed in either case, regardless of whether the object utilized was dangerous or caused any actual bodily injury to the victim.

Take, for instance, the scenario in which you and the person you are dating get into a disagreement in your kitchen. Due to this disagreement, you lash out in anger at the person and end up throwing a plastic spoon in their direction and it strikes them. Even if you did not physically contact your partner or spouse, or throw anything that can be considered particularly harmful, you can still be convicted of domestic battery provided the case meets all of the other requirements that are outlined.

Deliberate Intent

It must be proven that the contact was done intentionally for a defendant to be convicted of domestic battery under California PEN 243(e)(i). In general, it needs to be clear that the individual intended to perpetrate the act for it to be deemed deliberate. This implies that domestic battery cannot be prosecuted in this situation if the contact was entirely accidental and it was obvious that the individual being accused did not intend to perpetrate the alleged contact.

However, for the offender to be convicted of domestic violence, it is not necessary to demonstrate that the accused perpetrator aimed to infringe the law or harm the purported victim. Domestic battery charges can be upheld in cases when the offending act was committed knowingly.

For instance, even if someone didn't intend to hurt their partner, they could still be convicted of domestic battery when they deliberately hurled an empty glass into a wall, causing the fragments of glass to injure their spouse only slightly. This is because even though he didn't intend to hurt them, they did perpetrate the act willfully and that led to the unlawful touching.

There are several ways to find proof of deliberate intent. This comprises witness testimonies, transcripts of written or verbal conversations, or photographic or video recordings of the battery. Hospital files of the injuries sustained as a result of domestic battery can also serve as proof in court.

Intimate Partners

To be prosecuted with domestic battery, it must be established that the alleged offender and victim previously were, or are involved in an intimate relationship. This truth is easier to demonstrate in some forms of close relationships. A marriage license can be used to demonstrate spousal relationships. Birth certificates can be used to establish parental connections if the names of the parents are recorded on the certificate.

On the other hand, it is far more difficult to provide evidence that two individuals were involved in a romantic relationship or shared a home. Communications data describing the context of the relationship as well as housing files, if they can demonstrate that two persons lived together for some time, are utilized to establish the validity of these types of relationships.

Criminal Penalties for Domestic Battery Offenses

A domestic battery charge results in a misdemeanor conviction under Penal Code 243(e)(i). While a misdemeanor charge is all that can be brought under PEN 243(e)(i), a felony charge could be brought under another penal code for more violent cases of battery. Depending on how serious the crime was, you could face a maximum fine of $2,000 or a term of one year in jail.

It is important to remember, nevertheless, that individuals charged with domestic battery typically get suspended sentences and probation. The offender on probation is required to meet with their probation officer at specific times and adhere to other terms of the probationary term.

You can be required to take part in and finish a one-year batterer's treatment program as a requirement of the probation. In addition, the judge could order you to give a contribution of as much as $5,000 towards a shelter for battered women or another charity that supports domestic violence victims instead of the $2,000 fine.

Additionally, the court could order you to cover any costs the domestic battery victim incurs as a consequence of the domestic battery, including medical costs and/or expenses for trauma treatment or other types of treatments.

The law stipulates that if you're convicted of domestic abuse subsequently and are given probation once more, you must serve a minimum of forty-eight hours in jail unless the court is persuaded that there is a compelling reason for avoiding time in jail.

In addition, even if domestic battery offenses are merely considered misdemeanor offenses, under the federal statutes they are categorized as "deportable offenses," which means that non-citizen offenders can face deportation from the U.S. for having been convicted of domestic battery. If you were recently convicted of domestic battery as a non-citizen, you could soon be the subject of deportation procedures.

Fighting Domestic Battery Charges

Below are arguments and legal defenses you can use to fight domestic battery charges against you.

No Deliberate Intent

Domestic violence charges can be contested on the grounds of an absence of purposeful intent when the accused person has a good faith belief that they did not act knowingly and intentionally to cause the alleged battery. No deliberate intent doesn't necessarily imply that the offender had no intention of breaking California laws or harming someone else in any way; as stated previously in the section on deliberate intent, it is possible to commit an act of force without intending to, or without having the intent to harm anyone.

If you can demonstrate that you had no intention whatsoever of carrying out the act that led to the purported battery, you can utilize the lack of deliberate intent as a defense in court. It should be established beyond a reasonable doubt that the act was purely accidental and wasn't the intention of the accused.

Take the following scenario: You and your partner attended a party. During the party, you were pushed from behind, which caused you to run into your partner which sent her tumbling to the floor. She then accuses you of domestic battery. Given that it is obvious that you did not intentionally crash into her but instead did so as a consequence of an accident, you could effectively argue that there was no purposeful intent.


If you are accused of domestic battery, your legal counsel can claim that the only reason you resorted to physical force was to protect yourself from the alleged victim's attack on you. It is not enough to demonstrate that you suffered injury from your intimate partner when you decided to defend yourself.

You must first demonstrate that you were compelled to defend yourself to keep yourself from incurring immediate injury. When you show that you might have avoided injury by taking advantage of alternative methods, like fleeing or utilizing verbal dialogue to ease the conflict, then your claim of self-defense will be unsuccessful.

Additionally, you should be capable of demonstrating that you did not use more force than was needed to protect yourself. Self-defense claims will be disregarded if it can be proven that you kept using force to defend yourself even after there was no longer a danger to your well-being. The claim of self-defense could also be dismissed if it can be demonstrated that the defendant reacted in an excessively violent manner, for example by reacting to a push with a firearm.

Mutual Consent

If you are accused of domestic battery, you could argue that you and your partner consented to participate in something that could potentially cause injury through abusive or offensive contact.

Some couples decide to engage in acts wherein the participants prefer to impose pain upon each other, and they do so in a way that is seen to be consenting by both parties. This act is known as sadomasochism, and it often involves lovers hurting each other on purpose for sexual pleasure.

If you've been accused of committing domestic battery but are sure your partner gave full agreement to the injury you caused, you can try to have the allegations against you dismissed by arguing that the two of you were acting in mutual consent.

False Allegations

Unfortunately, false accusations of domestic battery against the accused are not unheard of. Someone may make false domestic assault accusations against their spouse out of spite or to acquire leverage in divorce settlements. When one ex-spouse has a history of domestic abuse, the other could find it easier to get custody of the kids or more generous alimony payments.

Even though it can be difficult to demonstrate that a person is not speaking the truth regarding an allegation, our lawyers are experienced at finding flaws in the narratives that individuals make up to hurt their intimate partners. We know how to interrogate witnesses and offer evidence in a way that can persuade the court that the victim is not telling the truth.

Offenses Related to California Domestic Battery

Listed below are a few offenses related to domestic battery acts in California.

Domestic Violence Resulting in Corporal Injury, California PEN 273.5

PEN 273.5 and PEN 243(e)(i) are related to domestic abuse between persons who are or have been in intimate relationships in numerous ways. The primary distinction between both offenses is that Penal Code 273.5 requires the victim to sustain corporal injuries that lead to traumatic conditions.

Any form of physical harm, no matter how slight, can lead to a traumatic state, and this includes minor cuts and bruises as well as more severe ones. It could be anything, such as bruises, a concussion, or fractured bones.

Domestic violence resulting in corporal harm, on the other hand, is a wobbler offense meaning that its categorization depends on factors such as the perpetrator's prior criminal record and the seriousness of the victim's injuries, rather than being fixed on one or the other.

Aggravated Battery Under Penal Code 243(d)

Domestic battery and aggravated battery are both quite comparable, but there are a few important distinctions that can be made. First of all, an aggravating battery case can be brought even if it does not include two intimate partners. It doesn't matter if the victims are friends, coworkers, or strangers; aggravated violence can happen between any two groups of individuals.

In addition, to be considered an act of aggravated battery, there must be significant physical injury. Injuries that are not life-threatening are not sufficient. For injuries to be classified as significant physical injuries, they need to be the kind of injuries that hinder vital body functions from being carried out properly.

In most cases, this involves fractured bones, severe concussions, or major cuts and lacerations. In the same way, Penal Code 243(d) could be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Those who are found guilty of aggravated battery as a felony risk a potential prison sentence of a maximum of four years.

Find a Domestic Battery Lawyer Near Me

If you have been accused of domestic battery, you need the assistance of a seasoned domestic battery attorney to help you navigate the California court processes. Our attorneys at the Restraining Order Law Firm in Los Angeles are always available to help you with your case. When you contact us, our legal experts can respond to any inquiries and offer you a free no-obligation consultation. Call us today at 424-600-7691.