Domestic Violence

California Penal Code 243(e)(1) P.C. & California Penal Code 273.5(a) P.C.

Domestic violence (also occasionally referred to as “Domestic Battery”, “Simple Battery Against Spouse, Cohabitant, or Fellow Parent” or “Inflicting Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner”) typically refers to violent acts allegedly committed against a family or household member, such as physical abuse of one’s spouse, against a current or former romantic/sexual partner, or a child.

What are Domestic Violence Crimes?

Under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) P.C., you can be charged with Domestic Battery/Simple Battery Against Spouse, Cohabitant, or Fellow Parent if you touch someone in a harmful or offensive manner. The alleged victim must be your spouse (wife or husband), parent, co-habitant (roommate), child, boyfriend or girlfriend (current or former), fiancée (current or former), or anyone you’re currently dating or were formerly dating or having a sexual or romantic relationship. In other words, but for this specific relationship to the alleged victim, you would be charged with simple Battery.

Domestic Battery is charged as a misdemeanor.

Under California Penal Code 273.5(a) P.C., you can be charged with Inflicting Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner if you injured a spouse, cohabitant, or fellow parent in an act of domestic violence.

Inflicting Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that the District Attorney can charge you with either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the harm, the facts of the case, and your criminal record.

If you inflicted great bodily harm, you will definitely be charged not only with a felony, but with a “strike” offense under California’s “Three Strikes Law”, which can result in sentencing enhancements and requires you to serve at least 85% of your sentence, even with good behavior.

Under either charge, the alleged victim need not even be visibly injured to justify this charge or a conviction. In addition, even if the alleged victim does not initially press charges, or later changes his or her mind after pressing charges, you can still be prosecuted if the prosecutor decides to proceed with the case.

In addition, as a result of the notorious O.J. Simpson double-murder case, you can be charged with domestic violence/Domestic Battery even if the alleged victim declines to press charges against you.

What are Examples of Domestic Violence?

Examples of situations involving Domestic Violence include the following:

  • You punched your wife in the face after an argument, giving her a black eye (corporal injury case).
  • Your ex-girlfriend claimed you shoved her against the wall, so you are arrested even though there is no physical injury (Domestic Battery).

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for a Domestic Battery Charge?

To prove that you are guilty of Domestic Violence/Simple Battery Against Spouse, Cohabitant, or Fellow Parent under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) P.C., the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 841):

  • You willfully and unlawfully touched another person in a harmful or offensive manner; and
  • That person was your spouse, cohabitant, or fellow parent.

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for a Charge of Inflicting Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner?

To prove that you are guilty of Inflicting Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner under California Penal Code 273.5(a) P.C., the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 840):

  • You willfully and unlawfully inflicted a physical injury on your current or former spouse, cohabitant, fellow parent, of someone you are or were involved in a dating relationship; and
  • The injury you inflicted resulted in a traumatic condition.

What Happens If I am Convicted of a Domestic Violence Charge?

If you are convicted of Domestic Violence under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) P.C. or California Penal Code 273.5(a) P.C., you face the following punishment (excluding any sentencing enhancements):

  • One year in county jail, or two years, three years, or four years in prison (if you are convicted of felony Inflicting Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner); or
  • One year in county jail (if you are convicted of misdemeanor Domestic Battery); and
  • A maximum fine of $6,000 (felony Corporal Injury) or $2,000 (misdemeanor Domestic Battery or misdemeanor Corporal Injury);
  • Probation of three or five years (felony or misdemeanor);
  • Imposition of a protective order to stay away from the victim;
  • Mandatory domestic violence counseling (felony or misdemeanor);
  • Victim restitution (if applicable);
  • Possible loss of custody rights (if applicable);
  • Possible permanent loss of right to own or possess firearms;
  • Possible community service (felony or misdemeanor); and
  • Possible loss of ability to obtain or maintain a professional license, loss of employment or educational opportunities, or adverse immigration consequences (if applicable).

What are My Possible Defenses to a Domestic Violence Charge?

Domestic Violence cases can often be resolved during the investigation stage even before criminal charges are actually filed. Specifically, a highly experienced and skilled Los Angeles County Domestic Violence attorney like Ninaz Saffari might be able to convince the investigating detective to not refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, or to convince the D.A.’s Office not to file charges if the case has already been referred. These are called Pre-Files, which Ms. Saffari has a great deal of experience in successfully negotiating. See her Case Results.

If you are charged with Domestic Violence, Ms. Saffari will first conduct a thorough investigation, often with the help of her private investigator, to ascertain all relevant facts. Again, if possible, she will attempt to get the charges dismissed either before or shortly after they are filed. If she takes the case to trial, she will often use an expert witness who will argue that the alleged harm never occurred, did not occur to the degree claimed, occurred but was the result of an accident or unintentional conduct, or that the District Attorney has otherwise failed to provide enough evidence to meet the high threshold to prove Domestic Violence.

The following are the possible defenses to a Domestic Violence charge:

  • Self-defense of yourself or another person. For example, the alleged victim threatened you with force, attempted to assault you, or did in fact attack you or another person, and you reasonably believed you or the other person were in danger. Under California law, you are entitled to use force against someone to prevent wrongful injury to yourself or another. However, the force must be only that which was reasonably necessary to prevent the injury.
  • Lack of willfulness. You did not act willfully; e.g., the assault or battery was the result of an accident, misfortune, or ordinary (non-criminal) negligence.
  • Lack of ability to use force (Simple Assault). At the time of the incident, you did not actually have the capacity to inflict force upon or to injure another person.
  • Parental rights (Simple Battery on a child). If the alleged victim is your own child, you were acting within the legal parameters of your rights as a parent.
  • Lack of harmful or offensive contact (Simple Battery). You did not actually touch the alleged victim in an angry, disrespectful, humiliating or rude manner. Alternatively, someone else caused the assault or battery.
  • Lack of serious injury (Corporal Injury). You did not actually cause great bodily injury to the alleged victim.
  • Lack of intimate relationship. The alleged victim is not your current or former partner. (If you succeeded on this defense, the prosecutor will likely charge you with a lesser offense.)
  • Lack of traumatic condition. The alleged victim already suffered from the traumatic condition through no fault of yours. Alternatively, he or she was hypersensitive to the incident. In other words, no reasonable person in that situation would have suffered a traumatic condition.
  • False accusations. The alleged victim or supposed eyewitness may have ulterior motives for lying to the police. Some of the most common motives include child custody disputes and romantic strife with current or former lovers.
  • Misidentification by the accuser or witness. For example, your act was misunderstood or misinterpreted, or you were not the actual person who committed the alleged offense. Eyewitness identification can be affected by many different factors, including bad lighting, witness stress, cross-racial identification, suggestions by the police, etc.
  • Constitutional defenses. These include lack of probable cause, police misconduct (coerced confession, planted evidence, falsified police report, etc.), Miranda violations (suppressing any statements you made to the police if your Miranda rights were violated), and suppression of evidence that was seized without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a valid warrant (in violation of the Fourth Amendment).
  • Insufficient evidence. The prosecutor failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of one or more charges.
  • The accuser and/or witnesses are not credible. In other words, for any host of reasons, the jury simple does not believe what the accuser and/or witnesses are claiming about your criminal culpability.

What Kind of Domestic Violence Charges Has Ninaz Saffari Defended?

Since 2005, Ninaz Saffari has successfully represented scores of clients against domestic violence charges, with allegations ranging from battery without injury to cases involving multiple stab wounds. She has also successfully defended clients who have been charged with domestic violence on previous occasions, and therefore were facing many years in prison. See her Case Results.


If you or a loved one are currently being investigated or prosecuted for this crime, it is critical that you immediately hire a highly skilled, aggressive and experienced Los Angeles County Domestic Violence criminal defense attorney like Ninaz Saffari. Contact the Saffari Law Firm, P.C. now for a free telephone consultation. If Ms. Saffari believes she can help you, she will immediately schedule a free in-person meeting or, if you are in custody, she will visit you in jail (again, for free and with no obligation to hire her).


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