- What is Domestic Violence?
- What are the necessary elements to be found guilty of Domestic Violence?
- What is the sentence / punishment for Domestic Violence?
- What are possible defenses to charges of Domestic Violence?
What is Domestic Violence?
What are the necessary elements to be found guilty of Domestic Violence?
To prove the defendant committed Domestic Violence, the state must show that the defendant:
- The victim had a relationship with the defendant (including present or past: spouse, dating relationship, fiancee, parent of defendant's child, etc.);
- Touched someone in a harmful or offensive manner; and
- Did not act in self-defense or defense of others.
What is the sentence / punishment for Domestic Violence?
Here, we are dealing with battery on a person the defendant lives with or dated. That type of batter is a misdemeanor and carries up to one year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. Often, the court also requires the defendant to attend a domestic violence counseling program. Cal. Pen. Code s. 243 (e)(1) .
The court can also require payment of up $5,000 to a battered women's shelter and order the defendant to pay for the victim's costs of counseling and other expenses directly attributed to the battery. Cal. Pen. Code s. 243 (e)(2) .
If this conviction is for a repeat offense of PC 243 (e)(1), there is a minimum of 48 hours in jail that is required. Cal. Pen. Code s. 243 (e)(3) .
What are possible defenses to charges of Domestic Violence?
To prove someone committed a crime, the state (through its prosecutors) must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed each element of the crime. Therefore, defenses to any crime start with negating one or more of the elements of the crime. Additionally, some crimes allow for “affirmative” defenses which, if the defendant can prove the defense applies, will result in a verdict of “not guilty” even if the prosecutor proves the defendant met each of the elements of the crime.
For Domestic Violence, convincing the jury that the prosecutor failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant touched the victim, that the touch was rude or offensive, that there was relationship required by the statute, etc., would be enough to get a not guilty verdict.
If the prosecutor can prove all the elements of Battery, however, the defendant must prove that one or more justifications for his actions existed (i.e., it is the defendant’s burden to prove an affirmative defense). For Domestic Violence, some of these justifications include:
- Defense of another;
- Duress / Threats;
- Entrapment; and
- Statute of limitations.