Domestic Battery

Penal Code Section 243(e)(1)

Domestic battery is a misdemeanor that occurs when the defendant inflicts force or violence on the victim. The victim may be a girlfriend/boyfriend, former/current spouse, co-parent, cohabitant, intimate partner, or fiancé. There is no requirement that the victim suffer visible injury.

Elements – What elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt?

In order to be found guilty of a domestic battery the prosecution must show:


1) Willfully touched another person;
An action is willful if it is done willingly or on purpose. You need not have intended to break the law, cause injury, or gain an advantage. You can touch another person directly or indirectly. Touching another person can include touching something attached or closely connected to the person. A touching can also be causing an object to touch the person or causing another person to touch a person.


2) That touching was harmful or offensive; and
A touching that is harmful or offensive need not cause pain or injury. Instead, it is when the touching is done in a rude or angry way.


The person you touched was either:

  • A person with whom you are cohabitating;
  • The parent of your child;
  • Former spouse, fiancé, fiancée, or person you used to date; OR
  • Current spouse, fiancé, fiancée, or person you are dating;

Penalties – What are the penalties of a Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) violation?

A conviction for domestic battery can result in up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000. If you are not a US Citizen, there are also grave immigration consequences. In most circumstances, a DV crime will make you deportable and make you ineligible in most circumstances.

Defenses – What are the defenses to a Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) violation?

Common defenses to domestic battery include:


  • Self-Defense or defense of others

    You have a claim of self-defense or defense of others if you:


    (1)Reasonably believed that you or someone else was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or being touched unlawfully;

    (2)You reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger; and

    (3)You used no more force than reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.


  • Act was not willful

    One of the elements of “domestic battery” is that your actions were willful. If your actions were accidental, not willful, this may be a defense to the charge.


  • False accusations

    Because intimate relationships are complicated in nature, it is not uncommon for an arrest to be made based on false allegations fueled by anger, jealousy or revenge. A good criminal defense attorney is critical in ensuring that false accusations do not result in a conviction.


If you need help getting someone you know released from custody, contact Hamasaki Law today for a free consultation.

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