If you’re accused of domestic battery in Los Angeles, you’re facing a serious charge that can affect your reputation and result in fines and jail time. With your character in question and your freedom at stake, you need an accomplished defense lawyer in your corner.
Get the representation you need with Los Angeles domestic battery attorney Justin E. Sterling. Before opening his criminal defense practice, Sterling worked in the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, where he was known for exceptional work helping clients with the most complex criminal cases. Let him put that experience and commitment to work for you.
You don’t have to face criminal charges alone. Call or contact the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling for a free consultation with a skilled domestic battery lawyer.
What is Domestic Battery?
Per the California Penal Code, the battery is the willful and unlawful use of violence or force against another person. A person who intentionally hits or touches someone else in a violent or harmful way has potentially committed battery.
Battery committed against a member of the defendant’s household or their romantic partner is considered domestic battery. This group includes:
- A current or former fiancé/fiancée or spouse
- Anyone the defendant is currently dating or dated
- A roommate or anyone else the defendant is living with on a long-term basis
- The parent of the defendant’s child
Elements of a Domestic Battery Charge
There are two primary elements to a domestic battery charge. First, the defendant must stand accused of battery, broadly defined as intentionally using force or violence against another person or committing unlawful touching.
Second, the person allegedly attacked must be part of the category of victims that merits additional penalties under the California Penal Code. This group includes past or current intimate partners and anyone living with the defendant long-term.
Penalties for Domestic Battery in Los Angeles
The baseline penalty for battery in California is six months in county jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Simple battery is a misdemeanor in most instances. However, the penalties for domestic battery are more severe.
A first conviction for domestic battery in California also carries a penalty of up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
Repeat offenses lead to more severe penalties. For those with a prior history of domestic battery, the court will order the defendant to remain in the county jail for 48 hours. Additionally, if a defendant commits domestic battery and inflicts serious bodily injury on the victim, the charge could be upgraded to a felony. The penalty for a conviction could potentially be imprisonment for up to four years.
While the legal consequences of a conviction for domestic battery are severe on their own, there may also be collateral consequences in other areas of your life. For example, any criminal conviction can negatively impact your job prospects. Employers are generally hesitant to hire anyone convicted of a violent crime, even if the crime was a misdemeanor.
You could also lose custody of your children if you are found guilty of domestic battery, especially if you are divorced or separated from your spouse. The courts do not want children to spend time in a violent environment. A domestic battery conviction could give your current or former spouse plenty of leverage against you in a custody dispute.
Domestic Battery vs. Domestic Violence in California
Domestic battery and domestic violence are separate crimes in California. Domestic violence occurs when a perpetrator inflicts a physical injury on an intimate partner or cohabitant. By contrast, a person can be charged with domestic battery for touching someone, even if there was no visible injury.
Domestic violence is also different because it is a wobbler offense, meaning you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the injury and the facts of the case. However, a domestic battery charge is always a misdemeanor.
Defenses to Domestic Battery Charges
The defense strategies available to you for a domestic battery charge will depend on the nature of the charges you’re facing as well as the provable facts of the underlying incident. However, potential defense strategies include:
- You were acting in self-defense – If you are attacked first, you have the right to defend yourself using physical force. An experienced domestic battery lawyer can help you make a strong case for self-defense.
- You do not have a close relationship with the victim – Having an intimate or residential relationship with the alleged victim is a prerequisite for domestic battery charges. If you can establish that there was no underlying close relationship between you and the accuser, you can have the domestic battery charge reduced or dismissed.
- You did not commit the crime in question – The charges against you should be dropped if you can demonstrate that you were mistakenly identified as the assailant or that the allegations are otherwise false.
- You did not willfully injure the victim – Battery requires an intent to harm, so if you hurt the victim by accident, you did not commit battery.
- The contact was not harmful or offensive – Another component of a battery charge is that the physical contact suffered by the victim must have been inflicted in a rude or angry way. If you can show that your actions do not fall into this category, you may be able to have your charges dismissed.
Get Help from a Domestic Battery Attorney in California
Facing domestic battery charges in California can be frightening, but you are innocent until proven guilty. With the right legal support, you could have the charges against you reduced or dropped entirely. As one of the top criminal defense firms in Los Angeles, The Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling has the track record and reputation you can trust. Contact us today for a free consultation.