Who Can Be Charged with Domestic Battery?
California, like many states, legally differentiates domestic violence against intimate partners from other batteries. But who counts as a domestic partner, and how does that affect charges and sentencing?
The law has a broad definition of intimate partner that includes just about anyone with whom you may have a sexual, romantic, or cohabitation relationship. If you are convicted of domestic battery, you will have to avoid further interactions with the victim in addition to other criminal punishments.
What Is Domestic Battery?
To convict you of the crime of domestic battery, a California prosecutor must prove that you did all the following:
- You willfully made contact with or touched another person in a harmful or offensive way.
- The other person was an intimate partner of yours.
- And you were not acting to defend yourself or any other person when you touched your intimate partner.
Many domestic battery cases revolve around whether the contact was “in a harmful or offensive” manner. California law does not require that anyone be harmed or injured for you to be convicted of domestic battery.
Instead, the contact can be extremely slight, especially if it is considered offensive. For example, touching another person’s private parts, even barely, could be construed as a battery. Likewise, a push, shove, or slap could be grounds for domestic battery charges even if it causes no visible injury to the other person.
Who Is Considered an Intimate Partner?
What differentiates domestic battery from other types of battery is that the victim is an intimate partner of the alleged criminal. In California, an intimate partner can be any of the following people:
- A spouse, fiancé, ex-spouse, or ex-fiancé.
- The other parent of a child.
- Anyone in a dating relationship, whether current or former.
- Anyone in a sexual relationship, whether current or former.
- Anyone who is cohabitating together.
Intimate partners may be those engaged in either a hetero or homosexual relationship. Additionally, cohabitants may have no romantic link. Instead, two unrelated roommates living together can be considered cohabitating. You can also cohabitate with more than one other person at the same time.
Dating relations that are not sexual can also be considered an intimate partner. So long as there is an expectation of affection between the parties, the relationship can form the basis for a domestic battery charge.
Punishments for Domestic Battery in California
In California, domestic battery is a misdemeanor crime. If you are convicted of domestic battery, the maximum punishment you will face is up to a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine.
However, the judge has the power to order that you serve summary probation instead of jail time if you are convicted. Probation can replace some or all of your sentenced time behind bars. If you receive summary probation for a domestic violence conviction, you will need to complete California’s batterer’s intervention program or counseling in addition to other conditions. These conditions can include community service, drug or alcohol screening or treatment, and avoiding additional criminal charges.
Additionally, if you are convicted of domestic battery, you will also be subject to a protective order or restraining order that prohibits you from unnecessary contact with the victim. These orders will specifically bar you from any threatening or harassing conduct towards your intimate partner.
Have you been charged with domestic battery in Irvine, California? The skilled defense attorneys at Chambers Law Firm should be your first call. You can set up an obligation-free meeting with our team by calling 714-760-4088 or emailing email@example.com today.