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California Battery and Domestic Battery Charges


Under California criminal law, a battery is defined as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” Battery is often conflated with the more serious charge of assault, which is defined as an “unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” When a battery is committed against a person who is not considered part of a protected class, the crime is usually considered a simple battery.

To prove a charge of simple battery, the prosecution must establish that 1.) the defendant willfully and unlawfully touched a person and 2.) the touching was done in a harmful or offensive manner. If a defendant is convicted of a simple battery charge, they can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of up to six months in length, and be fined up to $2,000.

In reality, simple battery is rather uncommon because California lawmakers have enacted a series of statutes naming many protected classes of individuals. For example, police officers, lifeguards, firefighters, children, dependent adults, bus drivers, and school employees are all considered protected classes. If a battery is committed against a member of a protected class, the potential punishment escalates. This is also the case for California domestic battery.

Domestic battery is when a battery is committed against someone who has a close relationship with the defendant. Specifically, domestic battery involves a battery against any of the following:

  • a spouse or former spouse;
  • a person with whom the defendant is living;
  • a person who is the parent of the defendant’s child;
  • a person who is in a relationship with the defendant, or has previously been in a dating relationship with the defendant.

A domestic battery is punishable by an up to one-year imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000. In addition, there may be additional conditions of a California domestic battery sentence. For example, if the judge sentences a defendant to probation or suspends a jail sentence, the judge will order that the defendant successfully complete a “batterer’s treatment program.”

If someone is convicted of domestic battery for a second time, they are subject to the penalties above as well as a presumptive 48-hour term of imprisonment that can only be avoided with a showing of “good cause.”

Have You Been Arrested for Domestic Battery?

If you have recently been arrested for a California domestic battery charge, there may be several defenses available to you. In many California domestic battery cases, the case comes down to the testimony of one witness, who is likely biased or otherwise impeachable. Attorney John W. Noonan is a dedicated California criminal defense attorney with over 55 years of experience representing clients facing all types of crimes, including California domestic violence cases. To learn more about how Attorney Noonan can help you defend against the charges you are facing, call (925) 886-4281 to schedule a free consultation today.