Domestic Battery - California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1)

Actual Case

Jay and Celine had lived together for about two years.  They had had a relationship that at times became argumentative.  Once time, in the heat of an argument, and after he had been drinking, Jay put his hand on Celine’s face and pushed her backwards.  Celine lost her balance and fell over, but did not injure herself.  The police were called and Jay was arrested.  When Jay and Celine came to see me, Celine no longer wanted to have Jay prosecuted.  I had my investigator take a statement from Celine which I presented to the District Attorney.  Also, I had Jay attend both alcohol and drug counseling and anger management classes. After I provided proof of the classes to the District Attorney I was able to get the charges dismissed.


P.C. 243(e)(1), or domestic battery, also known as spousal battery, is any willful and unlawful touching that is harmful or offensive committed against a defendant's current or former spouse, fiance or cohabitant, the parent of their child or a person they used to have a dating relationship with.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of assault under PC 243(e)(1), the prosecution must prove the following facts or elements:

  • The defendant willfully touched another person;
  • The touching was harmful or offensive; and
  • The person the defendant touched was their intimate partner or former intimate partner.


Much like simple battery, the harmful or offensive touching does not need to cause any injury to result in a P.C. 243(e)(1) charge, as long as it was done in an angry or disrespectful manner. Here as some examples:

Brian and Pam are a married couple shopping at a mall. Brian is tired and wants to leave, but Pam insists on going into another store. Brian yells at her and roughly grabs her arm to prevent her going into the store. Brian has committed a domestic battery even though he hasn't injured Pam.

Jane and Ed have a 6 year old daughter together, but were never married. Ed is late with his child support payment and Jane refuses to let him visit their daughter. Ed pushes her out of the way to get to the child. Ed has committed a domestic battery. If Jane shoves Ed while trying to slam the door on him, she has committed the domestic battery.

PENALTIES FOR P.C. 243(e)(1)

P.C. 243 (e)(1), domestic battery, is a misdemeanor and can result in the following penalties:

  • Three years Summary probation;
  • Up to one (1) year in county jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2000.)

It is common for defendants convicted of domestic battery to receive a suspended sentence and probation with the condition of completing a one year minimum batterers treatment program. The court may also require the defendant to pay any reasonable expenses the victim incurred as a result of the incident, including the cost of counseling.

Domestic battery is considered a "deportable crime," so a non-citizen may face deportation proceedings after a conviction.


Self-defense or Defense of Others:

If the defendant reasonably believed that they or another individual was likely to suffer physical harm from an application of force from the official and the force used was proportional to the threat, then there is a defense against prosecution.

Lack of Intent:

A defendant who did not willfully intend to commit the domestic battery can use the lack of intent as a defense against prosecution.

False accusations:

With domestic battery it is not uncommon for the "victim" to make a false allegation due to anger, jealousy or a number of other factors.


I have been practicing criminal defense for over 35 years.  I have represented people on hundreds of domestic battery cases and have a proven record of success.  I will begin by combing the police reports for any helpful information and inconsistencies and then will meet with you to discuss your side of the story and to determine possible defenses.  I employ a team of investigators, legal researchers, and expert witnesses that will help present the strongest possible case.  Often, in their attempt to find someone responsible for a crime the police will arrest the wrong person. Sometimes the police will take an innocent situation and charge someone with a crime.  I served for over sixteen years as a Judicial Officer of the Sacramento Superior Court and have established key relationships that can be used to greatly benefit my clients.  I will aggressively fight for you to get you the best possible result on your assault case including taking the case to trial if needed.  Call our criminal defense lawyer at (916) 779-3500 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a no-cost initial consultation."