Under California law, Domestic Violence mainly differs from Assault and Battery in that it is inflicted upon an “intimate partner”. An intimate partner can include your spouse, fiancé, dating partner, parent of your child, or another cohabitant. The charges for a domestic violence case are far more severe than those in an assault and battery case, most counties requiring a minimum of 30 days in prison, with state prison sentences spanning multiple years. In addition, a judge will more than likely require a 52-week long batterers class.

Since there are many similarities, most defenses that would be used in an assault and battery case, such as self-defense or false accusations, can be used. However, there are multiple facets and laws regarding domestic violence that should be known and kept in mind:

Domestic Violence defenseCorporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant, Penal Code 273.5, is defined as causing a physical injury that results in a traumatic (or visible) injury. Physical injuries can include hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, etc. The term traumatic injury is misleading, as it can include any visible injury. Even minor visible injuries, such as scratches, fall into this category. Other traumatic injuries include bruising, swelling, broken bones, etc.

Domestic Battery, Penal Code 243e1, is a misdemeanor that is defined as any force used upon an intimate partner. Unlike Corporal Injury listed above, Domestic Battery does not require a visible injury to be present.

Child Abuse, Penal Code 273d, is another crime related to domestic violence. Child Abuse is defined as any cruel or inhumane injury afflicted against a child. In California, leeway is given in that spanking your child is allowed, but the punishment must not be cruel or actually injure the child.

Child Endangerment, Penal Code 273a, another child-related chime, is classified as allowing a child in your care or custody to suffer harm or to have their health and safety endangered. Examples include allowing your child to play in a dangerous area, allowing a spouse or partner to beat your child, or creating an unsafe living area for your child.

Elder Abuse, Penal Code 368, renders it unlawful to abuse, injure, neglect, or otherwise mistreat a senior citizen (a person aged 65 years or older). In most cases, this crime is charged against caregivers, however anybody who commits these acts against a senior can be charged.

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