What is domestic battery?

3rd December 2020
Stephen Halloran headshot

Stephen Halloran

Managing Partner

In Brief

Battery is a physical contact offence which is categorised under common assault and sentenced accordingly – generally ranging from nominal fines to prison sentences of up to six months. Where an offence of battery is domestic in nature, other factors such as the relationship between the parties involved can have an impact upon the case, and at the conclusion a restraining order may be considered even if a conviction is not secured in court.

If you have been accused of domestic battery, it is vitally  important that you take the allegation seriously and contact experienced, expert legal practitioners to represent you at a police station interview or if the case is going to court. Should you be found guilty of such an offence, the consequences can be severe – so instructing an expert team of solicitors to prepare a robust defence on your behalf can make all the difference in securing a positive outcome for you and your family.

At Lawtons we have vast experience in dealing with highly sensitive cases in a non-judgmental and methodical way, and have helped thousands of people in the same position as you. We will work closely alongside you at every step to examine the details of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us today on 0333 577 0522. It is important not to take part in any kind of police interview without the presence of a qualified lawyer, in order to protect the defence that you may present in court.

How is battery defined under UK law? 

Domestic battery is a relatively common term but it does not refer to a specific offence; instead, it combines two separate factors which may influence the outcome of a case relating to physical assault. Battery is a form of common assault, the least serious  of the varying degrees of assault under in England and Wales and is defined as unlawful offensive contact, and could include things such as poking, pushing, slapping or spitting. It can be committed recklessly or intentionally, and this will be factored into the severity of the sentence if you are found guilty. 

Just because common assault is ranked as a less serious offence under UK law than actual bodily harm (ABH) or grievous bodily harm (GBH), this does not mean that an accusation should be treated lightly  – especially if the offence has been committed domestically. Common assault is a summary offence, meaning that it can only be heard in a magistrates’ court

What constitutes an offence of domestic battery?

The umbrella term of domestic violence can refer to a wide range of offences – including common assault. It is generally defined as domestic where the involved parties are, or have been, intimate partners or members of the same family.

Where an offence of battery is domestic in nature it becomes more complicated, because there can be aggravating factors such as the impact on children and the history of the relationship between the parties involved. Previous convictions, mental illness and the influence of drugs and alcohol may also be considered as factors in a case of domestic battery. 

How are domestic battery cases dealt with in UK courts?

Domestic violence cases are heard in specialist domestic violence courts (SDVCs) which operate within magistrates’ courts. These are intended to ensure everyone working on the case has had dedicated training and knowledge of this complex area of the law. Evidence may be given behind a screen, or by a video link, and the SDVC may have a separate entrance to the other courts. At Lawtons we can help to prepare your defence for an SDVC and have experts who have experience in these kinds of cases.

What are the sentencing guidelines for domestic battery?

When deciding sentences, the Magistrates or a District judge will consider all circumstances surrounding a case of domestic battery. The maximum penalty for common assault is 6 months in prison, and the minimum sentence is a fine – usually around 50% of the offender’s weekly income. At Lawtons, we always strive for the best outcome, and we urge the magistrates to refrain from imposing prison sentences and instead place the emphasis on support and rehabilitation via a community penalty. 

Sentences for domestic offences are intended to act as both a deterrent and a punishment. The court will also consider whether to impose a restraining order against the person who has committed domestic battery – even if a conviction is not secured. These can last for several years and breaching the terms of a restraining order is a separate offence and can result in imprisonment. 

Restraining orders, as well as other types of punishment for domestic battery, can have a profound impact on your life – so do not delay in calling the team at Lawtons to secure the very best possible representation in your case. Speak to us today on 0333 577 0522.

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