If I Shove My Partner, Is That Domestic Battery?

What’s Next?

As we already talked about in our “What is Domestic Violence?” article, domestic battery is just one of several charges that prosecutors can bring for domestic violence incidences. Domestic battery can also occasionally accompany sexual battery charges. Section 243 of the California Penal Code defines battery as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” Domestic battery narrows down the “person of another” to a current or former spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, or people who are currently or were once engaged in a dating relationship. To prove domestic battery, prosecutors must show that the defendant:

  1. Willfully and unlawfully used force or violence against the victim
  2. Is a current/ former spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, or someone that the defendant was or is currently involved in a dating relationship

But how much force is considered domestic battery? Where does the state of California draw the line with domestic abuse?

The main difference between domestic battery and domestic violence charges is that the former does not require victims to show evidence of inflicted corporal injury. In addition to this, the victim is not required to show his or her offender’s intent to injure. For an incident to qualify as a domestic battery charge, the law only requires that the defendant willfully used force in a rude or angry manner against his or her victim.  

To put this into perspective, here are two simple scenarios:

Example 1:

Peter and Jane are married. They both have an argument, and Jane forcefully pushes Peter against the wall as she is leaving the room, but this doesn’t harm Peter physically.

Example 2:

Mary and Michael are engaged. Both have a heated argument about something. Michael pushes Mary, but she lands on a soft couch without getting hurt. 

In both scenarios, neither victims have sustained injuries, but the offenders can still be prosecuted for their actions. 

Domestic battery is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 1 year in county jail and up to $2,000 in criminal fines. In some cases, the court might decide upon a maximum of 1-year probation. Our article on “Domestic Battery” has more information on the penalties and possible defenses. 

For a successful case against domestic battery charges, a skillful criminal defense lawyer like Attorney Don Hammond can help you get ahead of the narrative and explain the incident in question. For any inquiries about domestic battery criminal defense, please chat with us online or call +1 323-529-3660.