Important California Laws To Know – Domestic Battery And Corporal Injury To A Spouse
The following are some important laws related to abuse, neglect, and violence against intimate partners, cohabitants, and family members. The California Legislature has declared that these specified crimes merit special consideration when imposing a sentence to show society’s condemnation for these crimes of violence upon victims with whom a close relationship has been formed.
In Penal Code § 242, California defines a battery as “. . . any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” Section 243 makes a battery 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 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, or by both.
Whether the alleged victim sustained a visible injury is irrelevant. Also, the intent to injure is not an element that the prosecution must prove to convict for the crime. All that is required to prove domestic battery is willful, forceful, or violent touching.
Corporal Injury to a spouse or cohabitant is a more serious crime than domestic battery. Because it is a wobbler, it may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony based on the facts and circumstances of the case. This California law makes it a crime to inflict a corporal injury that results in any physical injury, however slight, to an intimate partner or cohabitant. First-time offenders may receive a sentence of up to one year in County jail. However, repeat offenders may be sentenced to up to four years in state prison. Simply grabbing the arm of a spouse or cohabitant may be enough to constitute a criminal charge for this offense.
Probation granted for the commission of this crime requires that the court impose certain conditions of probation consistent with California Penal Code § 1203.097. Some of these stringent conditions of probation include a minimum period of probation of 36 months, which may include a period of summary probation as appropriate. Another is a criminal court protective order protecting the victim from further acts of violence, threats, stalking, sexual abuse, and harassment, and, if appropriate, containing residence exclusion or stay-away conditions.
The defendant must also attend and complete a batterer’s program, or other appropriate counseling programs if the former is unavailable, for a period of not less than one year. The defendant must attend consecutive weekly sessions and must complete the program in 18 months. The court must also order the defendant to perform a specified amount of appropriate community service. Further, the court may order the defendant to make payments to a battered women’s shelter, up to a maximum of five thousand dollars ($5,000), as well as reimburse the victim for reasonable expenses that the court finds are the direct result of the defendant’s offense. For any order to pay a fine, to make payments to a battered women’s shelter, or to pay restitution as a condition of probation, the court must make a determination of the defendant’s ability to pay.
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