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Name: People v. Dealba
Case #: B250771
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 12/07/2015
Summary

There was sufficient evidence of indirect touching to support battery conviction where the force of a car collision that defendant intentionally caused required the victim to wrestle with her steering wheel to avoid losing control of her vehicle. Dealba, who was separated from his wife and fighting a custody battle for their children, followed his wife’s car and repeatedly rammed his car into hers. The force caused his wife to almost lose control of her car. Dealba was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(1)) and spousal battery (Pen. Code, § 243, subd. (e)(1)). A prior serious felony was found true. On appeal, he challenged the sufficiency of the evidence for the spousal battery conviction because the evidence showed that his vehicle struck his wife’s vehicle without making any direct or indirect contact with her. Held: Affirmed. Penal Code section 242 defines a battery as the willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another. Any harmful or offensive touching is unlawful use of force or violence under the statute. The force may be applied directly or indirectly. No California case discusses the type of indirect touching that occurred in this case—the defendant’s vehicle striking the victim’s vehicle without making direct contact with the victim. After analyzing out-of-state cases involving similar facts, the Court of Appeal here concluded that the fact that Dealba’s car did not touch his wife or cause her car to touch her did not render the evidence of harmful or offensive touching insufficient. His wife’s struggle to control her car and prevent it from hitting other cars and pedestrians was proof of the unprivileged “touching” inflicted on her by Dealba.