Battery, which is usually referred to as Simple Battery, is the willful and unlawful application of force or violence on another person. Most people associate Battery with severe beatings and infliction of bodily harm. However, you may be guilty of Battery even when you did not bruise or cause any pain on the victim. In assessing Battery, you may be guilty if you offensively touched the victim. At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we assist clients facing all kinds of Battery charges. Our attorneys fully understand the California Battery law and can handle any case related to Battery.

Overview of Battery

California law regarding Battery is outlined under California Penal Code 242 PC. Often, people use the phrase Assault and Battery. However, California Assault and California Battery are two distinct crimes. Assault is an attempt to use force or violence on another person, while Battery is the actual use of force or violence on another person. Under California Battery law, you may be guilty of Battery for seemingly harmless actions such as pushing another person.

Penalties for Battery

Under California Penal 242 PC, Simple Battery is a misdemeanor, and the penalties may include a fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000). You may also spend up to six months in county jail. In some instances, the court may require you to serve jail time and pay the fine.  

You may face additional charges if you commit Battery against a police officer, EMT, firefighter, or certain public servants. If violence against such people results in any kind of injury, your Battery charges will be more severe. 

Battery on a Peace or Police Officer

California Penal Codes 243 (b) & 243 (c) (2) PC outline Battery on a Peace or Police Officer. Willful, unlawful touching of a peace officer or any other protected person in an offensive or harmful manner while the officer is executing his/her duties is punishable by law. Under California law, you are guilty of Battery on a Peace or Police Officer if at the time you committed the offense, you were aware, or reasonably, you should have been aware that the person is a peace, police officer, or any other protected person.

Who is a peace officer under California's law on Battery? A peace officer refers to persons employed by law enforcement agencies, and they may include police officers, California Highway Patrol officers, transit police, officers with sheriff's departments, and harbor or port police. This group may also include people working as part-time or private security guards as long as they are performing peace officer duties.

California laws on Battery on peace officers also extend to some public officials and professionals who do not perform law enforcement duties. The people include firefighters, custodial officers, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and paramedics, security officers, lifeguards, employees of a probation department, animal control officers, code enforcement officers, and search and rescue officers among others.  

Penal Codes 243 (b) and (c) PC only apply if Battery on a Protected Person happens when the person is engaged in the performance of his or her duties. For example, if you hit a peace officer at an entertainment joint, you may not be charged with Battery under Penal Code 243 (b) as a peace officer was not in the course of performing his/her duties. However, you may face Battery charges under Penal Code 242; Simple Battery.  

The definition of Battery, even under Penal Code 243 (b) or Penal Code 243 (c) (2), includes touching a person in an offensive manner. This may include even a slight touching as long as it is done angrily or rudely. The touching does not have to result in an injury or even pain and discomfort to qualify as a Battery.

You only face Battery charges if you acted willfully.  Acting willfully means that you executed the Battery willingly and on purpose. Even if you did not intend to break the law, hurt the victim or gain any advantage, as long as you acted willfully, you are guilty of Battery. 

How Can You Know a Person is a Peace Officer?

In assessing Battery on a Peace Officer, Police Officer, or a Protected Person, you are only liable if, at the time of carrying out the Battery, you knew, or you should have reasonably known that the victim was a peace officer or protected person. In deciding your case, a jury may examine factors such as if the law enforcement officer or the protected person was in official uniform at the time of the Battery. The jury may also consider whether the officer clearly announced his/her position to you and if the victim was operating a clearly marked vehicle such as a police vehicle or an ambulance.

Penalties for Battery on a Peace Officer

Under California Penal Code 243 (b), Simple Battery on a Peace or Police officer is a California Misdemeanor. The consequences for a conviction for PC 243 (b) Battery on a Peace Officer include misdemeanor summary probation, which is an alternative to jail. Misdemeanor summary probation allows low-risk offenders to serve all or most of their sentences out of jail but under court supervision.

In California, summary probation mainly lasts for one to three years. However, depending on the circumstances, the probation may extend to five years. During probation, an offender must honor certain requirements, such as attending counseling or performing community labor. Failing to comply with probation conditions may make the judge revoke an offender's probation and send him/her to jail. 

Apart from summary probation, Battery on a Peace Officer under PC243 (b) may be punishable by one year in a county jail or a fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000). 

Penalties for Felony Battery on a Peace Officer Causing Injury

Under California Penal Code 243 (c), you will face enhanced penalties for Battery on a Peace Officer if the officer sustains injuries. An injury is any physical harm that calls for medical attention. It is important to note that this does not mean that a victim needs to have sought medical treatment for the harm to qualify as an injury. It also does not mean that an injury is automatically deemed to have occurred if a victim seeks medical attention, albeit unnecessarily. 

If the Battery on a Peace Officer causes injury, it is a wobbler under California Penal Code 243 (c). This means that the offense may be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony. The classification of the offense will depend on factors such as the criminal history of the offender and the circumstances surrounding the offense, including the extent of the injuries.

If a Battery on a Police Officer Causing Injury qualifies as a misdemeanor, consequences may include summary probation, one year in county jail and a fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000). In some instances, if the victim is a peace officer as opposed to a firefighter or other protected officer, the fine may rise to ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

If the Battery on a Peace Officer Causing Injury qualifies as a felony, the potential penalties under Penal Code 243 (c) may include:

Felony formal probation- In California, felony probation mostly lasts between three to five years. It is an alternative to prison and allows an offender accused of a felony to serve part, or the entire sentence out of prison but in the community under supervision. While on probation, the probationer must report to a probation officer regularly. The probation may also include doing some time in the community prison. Violating the terms of probation may make the judge revoke the probation and send the offender for part or full term.

A felony Battery offense may also attract a sentence of sixteen months, two years, or three years in a county jail in line with California realignment. Realignment refers to Assembly Bill 109 (AB 109) passed by California voters in 2011.  The bill sought to divert people convicted of less serious felonies from state prison (Department of Corrections) to local county jails.  Realignment is not applicable for serious crimes such as murder or sex crime, and these crimes are still eligible for state prison. 

Apart from formal felony probation and serving jail time in county jail, a felony Battery offense may also attract a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000). 

Defense for Battery on a Peace/Police Officer Charges

Despite the severe consequences for Battery on a Peace/Police Officer, you can still defend yourself against the Battery charges with the help of a competent criminal defense attorney. An attorney can weigh your options and help you erect some of the applicable defenses that may include:

  • Self Defense

While facing a Battery of a peace officer charges, you can assert that you acted in self-defense or defense of others. You may argue that you had a reasonable belief that you or another person was in imminent danger of suffering being touched unlawfully or suffering bodily injury.

You may outline that you had a reasonable belief that the use of force on a law enforcement officer or another protected individual was crucial and would prevent the imminent danger from occurring.

You may argue that you did not use more force than was crucial to defending against the imminent danger. 

You can only seek defense on the grounds of self-defense or defense of others if indeed there was imminent danger posed by the peace/police officer. Under Penal Codes 243 (b) or 243 (c) PC, you cannot claim danger if the peace/police officer used offensive language. Words, no matter how harsh or offensive, cannot justify Battery against a peace/police officer.

  • You Did Not Act Willfully

You may defend yourself on the grounds of willful acting especially in a scenario where you were facing arrest by a police officer. Your attorney may argue that you were uncomfortable as a law enforcement officer was placing handcuffs on your hands, or as you were being shoved into the back of the patrol vehicle. The attorney may argue that as you tried to adjust your position, you accidentally struck a police officer.

  • The Officer Was Not Performing Official Duties

You may defend yourself because the officer was not performing official duties. The official duties of a law enforcement officer do not include unlawful arrests and detention of people, police brutality, conducting unlawful seizures and searches, unlawful racial profiling. Under the provisions of Penal Code 243(b) and Penal Code 243 (c), battering an officer under the mentioned situations is not punishable as a Battery on a Peace/ Police officer but may qualify for Simple Battery charges.

PC 243 (d) Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury

Under Penal Code 243 (d), also known as Aggravated Battery, you may face additional charges if you commit Battery that inflicts serious bodily injuries on the victim. A serious bodily injury refers to the impairment of an individual's physical condition. Broken bone or concussion may qualify as serious bodily injury. 

An Aggravated Battery is a wobbler under California law and may attract misdemeanor or felony charges. 

If the Battery qualifies for a misdemeanor charge, the offender may face one year in county jail.

For a felony Battery in California, the offender may face two, three, or four years in prison, depending on the extent of the injury on the victim.

PC 243 (e) (1) Domestic Battery

Domestic Battery is a common crime. It refers to willful and unlawful touching in a harmful or offensive manner directed to:

  • An offender's spouse or a former spouse
  • An offender's cohabitant or former cohabitant
  • An offender's fiancé or a former fiancé
  • An individual with whom the defender has or used to have a dating relationship
  • A father or mother of the offender's child

A person may face Domestic Battery charges, also known as Spousal Battery even when the victim has not suffered any bodily harm. As long as the offender used force or violence against a victim, the offense qualifies as a Domestic Battery.

Domestic Battery is distinct from corporal injury on a spouse, fellow parent, or cohabitant under California Penal Code 273.5 PC, where the victim must suffer some form of bodily injury. For domestic injury, the presence of bodily injury is not mandatory. 

Penalties for Domestic Battery Charges

Under California law, Domestic Battery is a misdemeanor. The penalties may include spending one year in county jail. The applicable fines do not exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000).  You may serve a misdemeanor summary probation. 

In most cases, defendants convicted with Domestic Battery in California receive suspended sentences also known as probation. One requirement for probation is to complete a minimum of one-year batterer's treatment program.

If the court awards you probation as a sentence, the court may also decide that instead of paying the two thousand dollars ($2,000) fine, you should make payments of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) towards the battered victim's shelter. The court may also require you to pay for all the expenses that the victim may have incurred due to the Battery, including the cost of counseling.

If you face a second or subsequent conviction for Domestic Battery, and you receive probation as a sentence, the law may still require you to serve a minimum of forty-eight hours in county jail. The only way you can avoid serving the jail time is if you successfully convince the judge that there is a good cause as to why you should not serve a sentence.

Non-citizen offenders may face immigration consequences because of Domestic Battery. Therefore, although the Domestic Battery is deemed as a minor offense that does not have severe consequences; the case is different for non-citizens. Under federal immigration law, domestic violence is a deportable crime. Therefore, even if an offender is in California legally, he /she may face deportation after a Domestic Battery conviction. 

If you face Domestic Battery charges as an immigrant, it would be wise to seek the counsel of a criminal defense attorney before you plead guilty of the offense. 

Defense for Domestic Battery Charges

When charged with Domestic Battery, you can defend yourself in various ways to have the charges suspended altogether or reduced.  The various defenses include:

False accusations - Daily, many people are wrongly arrested for domestic violence.  It is common for spouses to accuse each falsely on the grounds of revenge, resentment, and jealousy. Spouses may also claim Domestic Battery to gain a favorable ruling in child custody or divorce cases. 

A competent criminal defense attorney may help unearth all the false allegations in court. The attorney would know the kind of questions to ask the victim and the necessary evidence to gather.

Accident as Legal Defense - You may also assert that the Battery against your partner was an accident and not willful. For example, an argument arises between a couple, and one spouse throws a beer bottle at the wall in anger. On hitting the wall, the bottle shatters, and a piece of glass hits the other spouse bruising him/her. In defense, the offending spouse may argue that he/she did not willfully touch the other spouse. Instead, the offender may assert that a piece of glass accidentally hit the victim.

Self-defense - Some situations may qualify as acting in self-defense or the defense of others from imminent danger. For example, if a child's mother starts hitting a child fiercely, the father of the child may come to the rescue of the child and injure the child's mother in the process. If the child's father faces Domestic Battery charges, he may argue that he was acting in defense of the child from imminent danger.

Penal Code 243.4 PC Sexual Battery

Also referred to as California's Sexual Assault law, Sexual Battery law prohibits touching an intimate part of another individual for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. Sexual Battery may either attract misdemeanor or felony charges. Felony charges may apply if:

  • The victim was not aware of the nature of the act as he/she was falsely convinced that the touching was lawful and for professional purposes such as therapeutic or medical purposes
  • The victim of Sexual Battery was unlawfully detained
  • The victim was institutionalized, incapacitated, or seriously disabled
  • A victim was forced to touch his/her intimate parts or masturbate. The victim may also have been forced to touch the intimate parts of another person.

Sexual Battery may be either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the nature of the crime. For instance, a misdemeanor Sexual Battery may entail touching another person's intimate part either directly or through his or her clothing. Concerning felony Sexual Battery, the offender must have had direct contact with the skin of the victim.

An offender violates California's Sexual Battery law by touching a victim against his/her will, which means the victim did not consent to the touch. To consent, the victim must act out of a free will and be fully aware of the nature of the act to which he/she is consenting. Therefore, if an offender misleads the victim to consent to the touch, the offender will be guilty of Sexual Battery.

You will be guilty of Sexual Battery is you unlawfully restrain a person and control their freedom through words, actions, or authority to accomplish the sexual touching. The restraint does not have to be physical but may also be through words.

You may not be the primary culprit in a Sexual Battery offense, but instead, you may be an accomplice who assists the main offender execute the claim. As an accomplice, you are equally guilty of Sexual Battery as the main offender. This is because you were aware that the primary culprit was acting unlawfully, you intended to, and you did assist him/her to accomplish the Sexual Battery.

The main defenses for Sexual Battery include claiming consent by the victim, asserting that your false accusation of the crime, and lack of sufficient evidence.

Battery on a Senior Person

If you perform Battery on a person who is above the age of 65 years, you may face charges under Penal Code 368 PC Elder Abuse. It is unlawful to inflict unjustifiable pain or injury on a senior person. Battery on an elderly or a senior person may be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the extent of the Battery.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we would be happy to assist you if you face accusations for a Battery of any kind. Our attorneys are experienced and fully understand California criminal law relating to Battery. Contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at 310-564-2605 and speak to one of our attorneys. Allow us to negotiate on your behalf for a better outcome of your Battery case. 

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