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Domestic Battery PC 243(e)(1)

Garcia Law Group > Domestic Battery PC 243(e)(1)

Domestic Battery PC 243(e)(1) – What is it and How is it Different from Domestic Violence?


Domestic battery is a serious crime that is committed within an intimate relationship. The law pertaining to domestic battery is located in California penal code section 243 (e)(1) PC.


WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF PC 243(e)(1) domestic battery?

To prove the crime of domestic battery under PC 243(e)(1), the prosecution must prove each element of the beyond a reasonable doubt:


(1) The defendant willfully touched the victim in a harmful or offensive way, AND

(2) the victim is the defendant’s current or former spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, co-parent, or someone with whom the defendant previously had a dating relationship.


California law states that domestic battery is an offense committed against a person with whom you are engaged in an intimate relationship. Domestic battery is committed when you illegally and willfully inflict force or violence when you touched your intimate partner.


To prove that domestic battery has occurred, the prosecutor must be able to prove that the defendant willfully and unlawfully touched the alleged victim. The touch must have also been offensive, aggressive, or harmful in manner.


For more information about California Penal Code 243 (e)(1) please explore the web page here.


In addition to proving the statements above, the prosecutor must also prove that the victim was an “intimate partner” of the defendant.



It is important to define what an intimate partner is to fully understand the extent of the domestic battery penal codes in California. People considered intimate partners are the defendant’s:


-former spouse,

-the defendant’s former cohabitant,

-the person with whom the defendant currently has or previously had a dating relationship with,

-a person with whom the defendant currently has or previously had an engagement relationship,

-or the mother or father of the defendant’s child.


Essentially, if the defendant and the alleged victim/complaining witness have had an intimate relationship at some point in their lives, then the domestic battery can occur.


Another important note about domestic battery law is that you can be charged with domestic battery against an intimate partner without causing pain or injury to your partner. Simply making physical contact by touching or grabbing a partner is enough to classify as domestic battery. Physical contact can happen through their clothing or directly to their skin, and still counts as domestic battery.




A conviction for violating California Penal Code section 243(e)(1) PC is punishable as a misdemeanor (PC 19 and PC 18.5). People convicted of domestic battery charges can be fined no more than $2,000 or be imprisoned in county prison for a maximum of one year. Some defendants will find themselves sentenced to one year in county jail and a fine. Once a person who is accused of domestic battery has served their time in jail and paid the fines to the court, they have an informal probation period (also referred to as “summary probation) of up to 3 years. There are specific conditions for domestic battery probation.


If probation is granted, the court will typically sentence a defendant to complete the following:


-the defendant must attend a batterer’s program for a minimum of one year (52 classes at a rate of one class per week),

-the defendant must repay or reimburse the victim of the domestic battery for reasonable costs of legal counseling and any other reasonable costs that the court deems are a result of the domestic battery.

-A criminal protective order that prohibits/limits the defendants contact with the victim


Additionally, a conviction of PC 243(e)(1) will prohibit the defendant from purchasing, owning or possessing a firearm. Effective January 1, 2019, Penal Code Section 29805 was amended (under Assembly Bill 3129) to prohibit anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense from owning or possessing a gun for life.




An example of a domestic battery situation would be a couple having a fight and one partner reaching out and pushing the other partner away. Although the other partner may not have suffered any physical injury or substantial mental harm, they can still pursue legal action to charge their partner with domestic battery. The slightest touch a willful and unlawful physical touching is enough to commit battery. Especially so during a fight or an angry or hot situation.


Another crucial differentiation to make is the difference between domestic battery end domestic violence. Domestic battery under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) is always classified as a misdemeanor.


Domestic violence however is categorized under California Penal Code 273.5 and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The charge will be either depending on the circumstance of the situation, the case itself, the level of injury sustained, and the duration of the violence.


Unlike domestic battery PC 243(e)(1), domestic violence under PC 273.5 require that the victim of domestic violence suffer some sort of physical injury during the domestic violence incident. The domestic battery charges only require offensive physical contact or harmful touching.




One of the most common defenses against domestic battery charges is claiming that you were acting in self-defense. Self-defense applies to most situations where you have the reasonable and logical belief that another person is going to harm you significantly if you do not defend yourself against them.


Self-defense only qualifies if the force used to repel danger was proportionate to the force of the danger. The self-defense force cannot be excessive or extreme when compared to the force of physical danger. Additionally, once the danger has been prevented, the self-defense must stop and the person cannot continue.


Additionally, the self-defense claim must be true. It is illegal to lie under oath in a courtroom. Lying under oath is committing perjury, which can end you in jail for a long time if convicted. Do not invent self-defense as a way to avoid domestic battery charges.


An example of a legitimate self-defense situation would be one partner harming another person, and the other partner pushing the aggressor off of the other person, accidentally harming their partner in the process of defending the other person.


Another common defense against domestic battery is that the accused accidentally committed battery as the behavior was not willful. This requires the defendant to have accidentally applied too much force but did not have the intention of touching, harming or pushing anyway their partner.


In a situation like this where a prosecutor is unable to prove the point that the accused committed battery in a willful way, then the defense will win because each element of the crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.




Some believe that the accuser (victim) can decide not to “press charges.” This belief is not correct. The power to prosecute or NOT prosecute lies with the prosecutor, NOT with the victim (alleged victim) in the case.  Prosecutors often assume that the alleged victim is dropping charges only because:


(a) The victim is being threatened or coerced by the defendant, or

(b) The defendant is emotionally manipulating the victim; or

(c) The victim relies on the defendant’s income.


So it is likely that the prosecutor will file charges anyway.




Sometimes an alleged victim of domestic violence refuses to testify against the defendant at trial. But the prosecutor has the “subpoena power” of the court. This means that the accuser can be forced to come to court and testify even if s/he does not want to. The prosecutor must personally serve the witness with a subpoena to appear This means they must find the witness and personally hand him/her papers informing the accuser that he/she must appear in court. If the witness still refuses, the judge can issue a bench warrant for his/her arrest.

Similar offenses include:

Domestic Violence/Corporal injury to spouse or cohabitant PC 273.5

Criminal threats PC 422

Disturbing the Peace PC 415

Dissuading a Witness PC 136.1

Domestic Violence PC 243(e)(1)

Extortion PC 518

Stalking PC 646.9




Appearing in front of a judge by yourself can be an intimidating experience. Additionally, the laws are complicated. If you are facing a criminal case, Garcia Law Group is here to help you. We’ve handled hundreds of cases and represented individuals in your situation. We are here to help you get through this stressful situation.

Call now and speak to attorney Joel Garcia for a FREE CONSULTATION.


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