What Is Domestic Battery?
You and your spouse got into a fight, and it turned physical. Or, perhaps you were in an argument with your girlfriend or boyfriend and things got a little too heated. One of you may have gotten physically hurt.
Now, you’re concerned about the domestic battery or domestic violence charges you could be facing. Even if you didn’t mean to hurt your partner, you could still be charged with and convicted of a crime and have to serve time behind bars… along with other consequences.
By learning about domestic battery, as well as domestic violence, you can determine what steps you’ll take and how find the right Oakland criminal defense attorney for your case at this time.
The Definition of Domestic Battery
Domestic battery involves committing battery against someone who are in an intimate relationship with, such as a spouse or former spouse, someone who have or had a dating relationship with, a fiancé, a former cohabitant, or the mother or father of your child. Battery means “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another” under California law. Domestic battery is also known as spousal battery.
Is Domestic Battery a Misdemeanor or Felony?
Domestic battery is a misdemeanor in the state of California. It’s punishable by up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of up to $2,000.
Proving Domestic Battery
The prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of committing a crime. If they cannot, then they won’t have a chance of winning the case. They need to have evidence of the crime that will convince a jury to convict you.
When it comes to domestic battery, the prosecutor has to show that:
- You willfully touched another person
- The touching was harmful or offensive
- The person you touched was a current or former intimate partner
You must have acted on purpose when you decided to touch another person. This means that you intended to touch them. It’s not necessary to show that you intended to break the law or intended to inflict injury on the person.
Essentially, you cannot touch a current or former intimate partner in an angry or disrespectful way. You could be charged with domestic battery even if no injury occurred.
Defending Yourself Against Domestic Battery Charges
If you’ve been charged with domestic battery, there are different defenses you could use to try and show you are not guilty of this crime.
For example, perhaps there is no evidence to show that you were anywhere near the alleged victim at the time the crime occurred. You could use that in your favor. Or, maybe you have an alibi. It’s even better if you have the evidence to back up your alibi. Perhaps you were at work and your employer can attest to that, or you were hanging out with friends and have some video of the gathering.
Also, you may have been acting in self-defense. You might have thought you were in danger of getting injured, you used immediate force to combat that threat, and you didn’t use more force than was reasonably necessary. For example, your former spouse may have been charging at you, and you kicked him to prevent him from hitting you. This is a reasonable case of self-defense. But if you ran him over with a car when he was charging at your car, this would not be reasonable.
Your incident might not have involved an intimate partner. It may have only involved a friend, a neighbor, or a colleague. This could not qualify as domestic battery.
There could have been misconduct among the police. They might have stormed into your place without a warrant or they forgot to read you your Miranda rights when you got arrested.
In many of these cases, a bitter partner or former partner makes up a domestic battery incident to get back at you. You might have the evidence to show this. They could have texted you before it allegedly happened and threatened to report you for false violence, for instance. You should show any evidence you have to your Oakland criminal defense attorney so you can form a proper defense.
Domestic Battery vs. Domestic Violence
Keep in mind that domestic battery is different from domestic violence. While a domestic violence charge requires that the victim suffers from an injury, domestic battery involves offensive or harmful touching. Domestic violence is typically charged as a misdemeanor, unless it involved a child victim, it caused injury, or a deadly weapon was used. Then, it could be a felony.
Violating a restraining order or having a pattern of domestic violence can also elevate domestic violence charges to a felony. If you’re convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery, you could be sent to jail for more than one year, and if you’re convicted of felony domestic battery, you could be sent to prison for more than one year.
Another charge you could face is corporal injury to spouse or co-habitant. This involves willfully inflicting injury on your intimate partner, and it results in an injury. With this type of crime, intimate partner involves only your former spouse, your former or current cohabitant, or the mother or father of your child.
If you are convicted of misdemeanor corporal injury to spouse or co-habitant, you could go to jail for up to a year and a fine of up to $6,000. If you are convicted a felony, you could face a fine of up to $6,000 and up to four years in a California state prison.
You could also face increased penalties for these charges if you had a prior conviction from the past seven years for corporal injury to spouse or co-habitant, sexual battery, domestic battery, assault causing serious bodily injury, or assault with a deadly weapon.
What to Do When You Get Arrested for Domestic Battery
If you get arrested, do not admit to anything. Instead, tell the police you wish to remain silent until you can talk to your Oakland criminal defense attorney. When you make your phone call, either make it directly to the attorney or call a family member or friend to do it for you and explain what happened.
Even if the police are trying to intimidate you into talking, don’t say or sign anything without first talking to your attorney. When you call your attorney, or anyone else, don’t say anything about the crime or admit to anything, since law enforcement may be listening.
Do not post bail without speaking to your attorney, because you may not have to pay it. Instead, as soon as you can, write down the details about the alleged domestic battery incident and your arrest right away. You don’t want to wait on it, because you may forget what happened, especially if it was traumatic. Write down whether or not the police read you your Miranda rights – if they did not, then that might qualify as misconduct and strengthen your case.
Should You Contact the Alleged Victim?
You may be tempted to get in touch with the alleged victim to smooth everything over, to apologize, or to ask them why they called the police. No matter what the circumstances are surrounding your case, do not get in touch with the alleged victim. They could use your communication against you in court and try to show that you were trying to intimidate them, even if you weren’t.
Don’t even talk about your case to family and friends. Instead, only talk to your attorney about what happened and how you’re going to move forward.
Why Hire an Oakland Criminal Defense Attorney?
When you get arrested and charged, you’re given the choice to go with the public defender or hire your own private representation in the form of an Oakland criminal defense attorney.
You may believe that a public defender is best. After all, they are a legitimate lawyer and they are free. While this seems appealing, using a public defender can be very detrimental to your case. A public defender is often working on dozens of cases at the same time and won’t have the focus for your case alone. They may convince you to go for a plea bargain – where you plead guilty or no contest – without even fully reviewing your case or listening to what you want. It’s not necessarily their fault; they just have too much to work on at once and cannot possibly give you individualized attention.
If you hire an Oakland criminal defense attorney, they will give your case the individual attention it deserves. They will be available for you by email, telephone – whatever your favorite method of communication is – when you need them. Since you may be dealing with an emergency situation, your attorney will be available to you. They are going to be invested in your case and be able to answer any questions you have as well as thoughtfully respond to your concerns. This is especially important since you may be worried or anxious about your case.
Remember that even if you serve time behind bars and pay your fine, the penalties won’t stop there. If you’re convicted of domestic battery, or any other crime, it could have devastating consequences on your life. The first is that your family and friends may turn their backs on you because they don’t believe you. You could feel isolated and alone when you need them the most.
In addition, you could have trouble securing a job, since employers don’t want to hire people with criminal records, or you may not be able to get an apartment, since a landlord won’t want to rent to you. If you need money for college, you might not be able to secure funding from the government, which is how many students pay for tuition.
It’s not worth your future to go with a public defender. There is just way too much on the line. Instead, get in touch with an Oakland criminal defense attorney who has the experience and customer service skills to serve you in the best way possible. They will fight for you when it seems like no one else is in your corner and be there for you at all times.
Finding an Oakland Criminal Defense Attorney
You’ll want to find an Oakland criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience with domestic battery and domestic violence cases as well as the case results to back up their work. Attorney Elliot Silver is the perfect fit for you.
In one case, attorney Elliot Silver represented a man who was accused of holding his wife over a 15th story balcony, which is a serious charge. However, attorney Silver saw the situation for what it was and expedited the case to a manageable conclusion for his client. By negotiating with the prosecutor, his client agreed to plead to a misdemeanor, as well as participate in 52 weeks of domestic violence classes and time served.
In another case, when a client was awaiting trial on a federal case, he was charged with a new crime related to domestic violence. Under the terms of his release, a new charge could lead to him being locked up for the entirety of his other case. Attorney Silver dealt with the domestic violence case quickly and got it dismissed. This allowed his client to remain free on bond so he could continue living his life while he figured out the other legal matter he was facing.
Elliot is prepared to assist you as well to try and secure a favorable outcome for your case. If you’ve been charged with domestic battery or any other criminal charges and are seeking private representation, reach out to Oakland criminal defense attorney Elliot Silver today at (510) 995-0000 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He looks forward to hearing from you and assisting you at this tumultuous time.