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Domestic Violence: Corporal Injury vs. Domestic Battery

CorpInjuryvsDomesticBattery

According to Jonathan Rooker, a criminal defense lawyer with the Law Offices of Nuttall & Coleman, domestic violence “has very serious repercussions.”

But what exactly are we talking about when it comes to “domestic violence”?

When someone is charged with domestic violence, they can be charged under several different laws each with different elements and consequences.

Take for example the domestic violence laws for corporal injury on a spouse, cohabitant, or co-parent as listed in California Penal Code section 273.5(a) PC and domestic battery on a spouse, cohabitant, or co-parent as listed in California Penal Code section 243(e)(1).

Although the element for an existing relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim is pretty much identical for these two crimes, domestic battery is often considered the less serious of the two crimes because it lacks an element required by the corporal injury charge.

In order to show the crime of a corporal injury on a spouse, cohabitant, or co-parent, the prosecutor will need to show an actual injury to the alleged victim. In the case of a “simple” domestic battery, all the prosecutor will have to show is a harmful or offensive touching.
In order to show the crime of a corporal injury on a spouse, cohabitant, or co-parent, the prosecutor will need to show an actual injury to the alleged victim. In the case of a “simple” domestic battery, all the prosecutor will have to show is a harmful or offensive touching. For a domestic battery, showing that the alleged victim suffered an injury is not necessary to show that the crime occurred.

For example, imagine that husband David is facing domestic violence charges in connection with an argument that he got into with his wife Victoria. During the argument, David grabs Victoria’s arm to keep her in the room after she tries to leave.

If David were charged with corporal injury, the prosecution would have to show that Victoria suffered an injury, like something as severe as a dislocated joint or even bruising on her arm, as a result of David grabbing her arm. If the prosecution can’t show any injury caused by David’s use of physical force, then the prosecution is unlikely to win a case on a charge of corporal injury.

On the other hand, if David were charged with domestic battery, the prosecution would not have to show an injury on Victoria’s side, only that the grabbing of her arm by David was harmful or offensive to her.

For more information on these two domestic violence crimes, visit our California Penal Code Section articles on Domestic Battery on an Intimate Partner (Calif. Penal Code 243(e)(1)) and Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner (Calif. Penal Code 273.5(a)).