Orange County Domestic Violence Attorney
With offices throughout Southern California, our criminal defense law firm handles misdemeanor domestic violence cases throughout Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties.
Domestic violence is defined as a battery against a domestic partner. The slightest touching can be enough to commit a battery if is done in a rude or angry way. Making contact with another person, including through his or her clothing, is enough. The touching does not have to cause pain or injury of any kind. The touching can done indirectly by causing an object, or someone else, to touch the person. Domestic violence that does not result in an injury is punishable by Penal Code section 243(e)(1), which is always a misdemeanor.
Elements of Domestic Violence without Injury
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove each and every one of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. The defendant willfully (and unlawfully) touched the victim in a harmful or offensive manner;
2. The victim currently had a romantic relationship with the defendant or previously had a romantic relationship with the defendant; and
3. The defendant did not act in self defense or defense of someone else.
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intended to hurt the other person.
A person can have more than one romantic relationship at a time. Neither the defendant nor the victim have to be in an exclusive relationship with the other person.
The court must instruct on self-defense if there is sufficient evidence in the record to support that self-defense may have been the cause of the touching.
Penalties for Domestic Violence without Injury
Since Penal Code section 243(e)(1) is a misdemeanor only, it can never be elevated to a felony. The maximum penalty is one year jail and/or $2000 fine. If probation is granted, the defendant must also complete a 52-week domestic violence class. There is no minimum jail time for a first offense, but if a defendant has a prior conviction for Penal Code section 243(e)(1), then a second offense may require a minimum of 2 days jail.
Other Domestic Violence Consequences
Not only can a domestic violence conviction lead to criminal penalties, but it can also have drastic employment, licensing and immigration consequences. Domestic violence crimes are considered crimes of moral turpitude, which are crimes that relate to a person’s honesty. Having a domestic violence conviction can prevent a person from finding a job or lead to a person being fired from their current job. Furthermore, many professions that require licensing from a state board, such as doctors, pharmacists, nurses, lawyers, accountants, contractors, teachers, real estate agents and stock brokers, all require background checks. A professional who has a domestic violence conviction on their record risks losing their professional license, or never acquiring it in the first place. Perhaps the most severe impact of a domestic violence conviction involves immigration consequences. There are a few crimes that immigration authorizes cannot tolerate, and one of those crimes is domestic violence. Domestic violence is one of the worst convictions possible for non-citizens. Defendants who are permanent residents, with a green card, or temporary visitors, with a visa, will be deported, with a domestic violence conviction on their record.
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