Domestic battery—sometimes referred to as spousal battery—is one of the most common domestic violence-related charges in Santa Barbara and involves harming or threatening to harm an intimate partner, including a current or former spouse, a fiancé or fiancée, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, or the mother or father of the defendant's child. If you've been arrested for domestic battery, consider connecting with a criminal defense lawyer who may help protect you against the penalties that may stem from a conviction.
How Is Spousal Battery Defined in California?
California Penal Code 243(e)(1) describes domestic battery by the following terms:
“When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant's child, former spouse, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year...”
To garner a conviction of spousal battery in California, the prosecution must prove all of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You willfully and unlawfully touched the alleged victim in a harmful or offensive manner, and
- The alleged victim is your current or former spouse, your current or former cohabitant, your current or former fiancé or fiancée, someone you've dated or to whom you've been engaged, or someone with whom you've had a child.
“Willfully,” in this case, means that the defendant committed a violent act with specific intent to harm the victim.
What's the Difference Between Domestic Battery and Domestic Violence?
In California, domestic violence is a term that refers to any kind of violence committed against someone close to you. According to PC 273.5, a domestic violence charge would require that the victim suffer some sort of injury. In cases of domestic battery, however, a defendant may be convicted of the offense even without causing pain to or injuring the alleged victim. All that's required is the use of force or violence.
A domestic battery charge, according to Penal Code 243(e)(1), is a misdemeanor offense. That means that if convicted of the crime, a defendant may face a fine of up to $2,000, imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, or both. Domestic violence, however, is considered a “wobbler,” meaning that it may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the case.
Defenses to Spousal Battery Charges in Santa Barbara
There are several possible defenses to the crime of spousal battery in California. They include:
- Self-defense: Your attorney could argue that you touched or injured the alleged victim in the course of protecting yourself or another person from harm. This justification may only apply if you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you or another person would have suffered great bodily injury if you hadn't defended yourself.
- It was an accident: If you battered another person accidentally, you're not guilty of domestic battery; the offense requires the violence to be “willful.”
- False allegations: Your attorney may choose to challenge the credibility of the alleged victim's or witness' testimony in your case by stating that you were falsely accused.
- Insufficient evidence: It's not uncommon for there to be no physical evidence when a person makes allegations of spousal battery. In this case, a prosecutor may have a difficult time proving the crime occurred based solely on the victims' testimony.
- Mental incapacity: If the defendant in a spousal assault case proves that they weren't in their right mind at the time of the battery, a judge may give them a more lenient sentence.
It's important that you don't try to attack this case alone. An expert Santa Barbara spousal battery defense attorney may best be able to help you understand the law and choose a winning defense strategy based on the circumstances of your case.
Consult an Experienced Santa Barbara Spousal Battery Attorney
If you're facing accusations of spousal battery, contact an experienced Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer who understands California law and may help protect you against your allegation.
The trusted attorneys at the Aron Law Firm are dedicated to safeguarding clients from their accuser by examining their case in detail and constructing a strong defense. Our legal team recognizes how to protect clients from spousal battery charges and is committed to helping them avoid the consequences that stem from this offense.
Our firm takes a client-centered approach and aims to make the legal process as straightforward as possible. To speak with a Santa Barbara spousal battery defense attorney, schedule a free confidential consultation by calling us at (805) 618-1768 or by completing our contact form today.