Battered Person’s Syndrome in a Domestic Battery Case

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Domestic battery, more commonly called “spousal abuse” or “spousal battery,” is a California domestic violence crime that applies to intimate partners. Intimate partners may be heterosexual or homosexual, and married, divorced, living together, have children in common, dating or formerly dated. If a person willfully and unlawfully uses force or violence upon an intimate partner, he or she can be charged with battery, which is typically charged as a misdemeanor and carries a maximum of a one-year jail sentence and a $2000 fine. This charge can be brought against a defendant even if he or she used the slightest force. Any unwanted physical touching could lead to a battery charge. However, if the accuser suffers a serious injury, the battery will rise to a felony, which carries a maximum of four years in state prison.

In this, as well as many other intimate partner abuse cases, the condition known as “battered person’s syndrome” (more commonly called “battered women’s syndrome”) comes into play and can be offered as evidence through the testimony of an expert witness by either side. Although it usually refers to a woman, battered person’s syndrome can apply to a woman or a man involved in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship. Battered person’s syndrome is a recognized psychological condition that is used to describe someone who has been consistently and/or severely victimized by his or her partner. It is frequently used in domestic battery cases either to defend an abused defendant’s actions or as evidence against the defendant if the abused victim later recants his or her allegations. Because this syndrome is frequently raised in domestic abuse trials, it is vital to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer from The Kavinoky Law Firm who is familiar with battered person’s syndrome should it and its effects be introduced into evidence.

The characteristics of this syndrome all focus on the abused believing that the violence was his or her fault. In addition, the syndrome has three distinct phases that include the “tension-building” phase, the actual battery, and the “honeymoon” phase. In order to be diagnosed with battered person’s syndrome, the abused must have gone through all three phases at least twice.

If the abused has committed a crime (and therefore becomes a defendant), battered person’s syndrome may be introduced as a defense to the case. A knowledgeable attorney will likely hire an expert witness to testify that the abused either didn’t have the criminal mental intent that was necessary to commit the crime or that he or she honestly believed that force was necessary to avoid a more serious injury or even death. If either of these scenarios sound familiar, it is crucial to contact an attorney immediately to begin building a defense based on this syndrome.

If, however, the prosecution introduces battered person’s syndrome as evidence against a defendant, it is vital for the defendant to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help exclude that evidence or, at the very least, to rebut it with a defense expert witness. A defense expert witness will help discredit the prosecution’s theory that the “victim” suffers from battered person’s syndrome and will point out that the prosecution is simply using it as a way to bolster an otherwise weak case. The prosecution usually introduces the syndrome when the “victim” refuses to testify. The prosecutor then argues that the “victim” has recanted the allegations because the victim feared what would happen if he or she didn’t. A defense expert will rebut that argument, addressing the many legitimate reasons why an accuser may change his or her story.

The attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm have the training and experience to handle any battery case. They have successfully defended countless cases with skill and compassion and are well qualified to effectively tackle any and every evidentiary issue that may arise, particularly with respect to battered person’s syndrome. Click here for a free consultation and to secure the best representation available.

Darren Kavinoky
Darren Kavinoky
Founder at 1-800-NoCuffs
Darren Kavinoky is the founder of 1.800.NoCuffs–The Kavinoky Law Firm and is known as an award-winning criminal defense attorney.

The American Trial Lawyers Association has named him one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California” each year since 2007. Los Angeles magazine has identified Darren as a “SuperLawyer” every year since 2010. Darren received an “AV Preeminent Rating” by Martindale-Hubbell (a peer review ranking that signals the highest level of professional excellence and ethics); a perfect 10.0 Rating by (an independent attorney ranking site), and many other accolades.