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What is domestic battery?

Anyone, including those in the public eye, could face criminal allegations. Recently, television actor Heather Locklear was arrested on suspicion of committing domestic battery against her boyfriend at their California home. Although Locklear posted bail and information on this story is sparse, readers may be left with questions regarding how the state defines battery in the context of domestic violence.

First, there are at least two relevant sections of the California Penal Code that may come into play when a victim suffers physical harm at the hands of a domestic partner or relative. The first is the general battery statute, which applies in all battery cases. In California a perpetrator commits battery when they willfully and unlawfully commit force against another person. A special section of this part of the code applies specifically to individuals in relationships and who are family members.

Second, the California Penal Code also includes domestic violence as a separate crime from battery. Domestic violence involves willful conduct on the part of the perpetrator that causes physical injury and that results in a traumatic condition. Depending upon the conduct alleged against the perpetrator, they may face a range of criminal charges including these and other statutes under the Penal Code.

In sum, battery generally involves physical harm, but as readers of this family law and domestic violence legal blog know, not all forms of domestic violence involve physical injuries. Victims of domestic violence may carry all of their scars on the inside and also deserve protections under the law from their aggressors. To this end, victims of domestic violence are encouraged to get help from trusted legal professionals who can guide them through their options of seeking relief and breaking the patterns of abuse that control their lives.

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