Articles Posted in Domestic Violence Issues

In a California criminal case involving the death of a six-month-old baby, a court held that the father’s confession to the baby’s mother could be admitted. According to the court’s opinion, the father was watching his six-month-old daughter by himself one day, and called her mother to tell her that the baby was not breathing. When her mother arrived, she was cold to the touch, and no one could resuscitate her. The baby died, and an exam later showed bruises, rib fractures, and a punctured lung, among other injuries.

The father later accompanied the police to the police station. He was read his Miranda rights and agreed to speak with officers in an interview room. He told the officers that the baby stopped breathing while she was laying in her crib. After the officers asked if the defendant would take a polygraph test, he asked if he could have an attorney, and repeated his request for an attorney four more times. The officers then arrested the father.

Several hours later, the police allowed the father to meet with the baby’s mother in an interview room. An officer told the mother that she might be able to get a “full explanation” of what happened” because she “[had] a right to know.” The conversation between the two was recorded. The father first gave the mother the same explanation that he had given police. An officer then came in the room and said that the autopsy showed that the baby did not suffocate, and that she was beaten to death. The officer told the parents that they both could go to jail for child neglect, and that this would be the last time they could talk to each other in person.

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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.

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