A standard battery in California requires an unlawful or unwanted touch for one to be prosecuted on misdemeanor offenses. Sometimes what may have been intended to be a simple battery can result in significant injuries to the victim. When the battery causes substantial injuries, the penalties are more severe. This offense, as found under PEN 243(d), is also referred to as an aggravated battery. If you are facing allegations of battery, causing significant injuries, you need to get a criminal lawyer to defend you against severe penalties. Get in touch with The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, who is experienced in defending clients against such offenses.
Defining Battery Causing Serious Injury According to PEN 243d
Battery that leads to severe injuries on the victim can be defined as simply the more aggravated offense of simple battery. According to the statute, the prosecutor has the burden to prove two elements or facts of the offense to be found guilty of the crime. These elements are:
- You committed the crime of battery according to the California Law
- The battery you committed resulted in significant injuries to the alleged victim.
As earlier stated, when one is accused of battery, causing significant injuries to another, he or she has just committed an aggravated simple battery. In California, battery can be defined as when a person touches the other one willingly in a manner that would be offensive or cause harm to them. To understand the definition well, we are going to discuss the various terms used in this statute.
Touched another Person
According to the law, for a person to be guilty of aggravated battery, they must have been physical contact with the alleged victim. The touch, even when it is slight and causes injuries can result in aggravated injuries. For instance, if two colleagues are arguing about something at work, one of them may shove the other slightly. Because of where they may be standing, the employee loses balance and falls, resulting in a fracture.
Even when the colleague meant no harm and did not shove them forcefully, charges of aggravated battery can be brought up against them.
With regard to PEN 243(d) violations, you are said to touch a person willfully when you purposely or intentionally do it. With the touching, you do not need to have intended to violate the law, take advantage of or harm the person.
This is essential when dealing with battery causing significant injuries. The crime does not require you to have had intentions to harm the person or violate the law. The most crucial element here is that you wanted to touch the person in an offensive or harmful manner.
Offensive and Harmful Manner
According to the law on aggravated battery, a touch can be offensive or harmful when it is violent, disrespectful, angry, or rude. Sometimes in as a show of affection, a person can hug another so tightly and cause them bruises or fractured ribs. If it happens, the person cannot be charged with aggravated battery because the touching was friendly and not offensive even though it caused harm.
Comparing Assault and Battery
Both assault and battery are crimes according to California law. However, most people confuse between battery and assault, yet the elements are different. The differences between battery and assault are:
- In assault, the perpetrator may inflict injuries to the other person or may touch them in a manner that is unwanted while
- Battery, as well as aggravated battery, is where the perpetrator inflicts force or uses violence against the other person.
With assault, there need not be physical contact while in a battery, there must be real physical contact. Some people look at assault only as an attempted battery, while the battery is when the assault is completed.
Defining Serious Injury according to the Law
When one is accused of battery resulting in severe injuries to the body, the victim must show evidence that they sustained the injuries. When an injury is described as severe, it is when the physical condition of the person has been impaired. Additionally, the law does not require the injured victim to be treated for the injury to prove it was severe.
Some of the injuries that may be termed as serious among others are
- When the victim suffers a concussion
- When the victim loses their consciousness
- When the victim suffers bone fractures
- When the victim loses the function of an organ or body part
- When the victim suffers serious wounds that require prolonged suturing
- When the victim suffers from severe disfigurement
Even with this list, the prosecutor can only bring the charges against you, but the jury is the one that decides if the injury is significant enough for the defendant to be prosecuted on aggravated battery.
Penalties for Violating PEN 243(d) Aggravated Assault
If you are facing aggravated battery charges, the offense can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony in California. The prosecutor must consider the circumstances of the offense and the criminal background of the perpetrator to decide whether to prosecute the defendant on misdemeanor or felony charges.
If you are prosecuted on misdemeanor charges and convicted, you are likely to face the following penalties:
- Be ordered to summary or misdemeanor probation
- Be sentenced to county jail time not exceeding a year
- Being charged to a fine not exceeding $1,000 alongside the jail sentence or instead of it
If you are facing felony charges, a conviction will carry the following penalties:
- Being sentenced to formal or felony probation
- Facing a county jail time for two, three or four years
- Being ordered to pay a fine not exceeding $10,000
In addition to these penalties, you lose your rights to own or use a firearm. If you already had a gun, you will be required to surrender it to the authorities. In case you try to purchase or own a gun after the conviction and are found out, you could face felony charges.
Sentence enhancement when Facing Aggravated Battery Charges
When charged with this offense, you may be sentenced to more penalties only if you are being prosecuted on felony charges. Additional penalties typically occur where the alleged victim suffered significant injuries or great bodily injury.
According to the law, great bodily injury is different from serious or severe bodily injury. In great bodily injury, the victim must suffer significant injuries to their body. This means, not every case where the defendant is accused of battery with severe injuries will be said to have substantial injuries to the victim.
In case the injuries you caused a victim are classified as significant or great, you are likely to face additional prison time lasting between three and six years. This is in addition to the sentence you will receive for violating PEN 243(d).
Legal Defenses for Aggravated Battery
A conviction in your record for battery causing serious injury will be unpleasant. If one is not careful, they could be convicted of the offense when they only touched the victim without intending to injure them. Many people, when they see your record, they will quickly assume you are a dangerous criminal when, in fact, you mean no harm.
If you find yourself facing these allegations, you need to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney quickly to help you defend yourself. An experienced lawyer understands the legal requirements, how to conduct an investigation as well as coming up with credible strategies for your defense. Some of the defenses your lawyer can use are:
You were Defending Yourself against Possible Danger
Your lawyer can argue that you touched the alleged victim while you were trying to protect yourself or others from the danger they were posing. For this defense to stick, however, you must show:
- You had reason to believe you or another person was in danger of being inflicted with physical injuries or being unlawfully touched.
- That under the circumstances, you believed you needed to use force to defend yourself or others and
- The force applied was reasonable depending on the circumstances
For instance, if John, who is married to Jane, get into an argument, it can be so frustrating that it causes Jane to shove their son away violently. When John sees this, he instinctively acts to protect his son by forcefully pushing his wife to protect his son from her anger that could cause the child harm.
If your lawyer can prove this, you then cannot be found guilty of aggravated battery.
The incidence was an Accident, not a Battery
This is another legally acceptable defense in aggravated battery charges. Sometimes you can injure a victim when it was not intentional. One of the elements of the crime a prosecutor needs to prove is that you intentionally and willingly touched the alleged victim. If this is not the case, you cannot be found guilty of the offense.
For instance, if you were practicing for a marathon and in the process, you collided with another person. The person falls and breaks their leg. The incident was an accident but not an intentional touching that led to the injuries. In this case, then, you cannot be found guilty of aggravated assault.
The Injury the Victim Sustained was not Serious
With regard to PEN 243(d), the definition of aggravated battery is when serious injuries are suffered or sustained by the victim. An alleged victim may accuse you of the offense of aggravated battery. However, the jury is the one that determines if the injuries were significant enough to be called significant.
If the injuries the alleged victim sustained were not severe, you might not be found guilty of the offense. Some victims can exaggerate their injuries to get you convicted on more serious crime. Your criminal lawyer will investigate to know the extent of the injuries and whether or not the victim is lying. If there is no evidence that the injuries were severe, your lawyer can discuss with the prosecutor to have you charged with simple battery, which is a lesser charge.
Related Offenses to Aggravated Battery
Other offenses are closely related to aggravated battery and can be charged instead of or alongside this offense. These offenses include:
PEN 242 Simple Battery
As earlier stated, aggravated battery is a more serious form of simple battery offense. In simple battery, the victim will not sustain serious injuries as it is in aggravated battery. This means a simple battery is a lesser offense prosecuted as a misdemeanor.
When there is no sufficient evidence to show that you caused serious injuries to a victim, you can be charged with simple battery instead of the more serious offense of aggravated battery.
When convicted of this offense, you will face misdemeanor charges, and if convicted, you will be charged a fine not exceeding $2,000. Additionally, you may be sentenced to county imprisonment or either of the penalties.
PEN 243 – Battery on a Peace Officer
The government believes that certain people require more protection in the performance of their duties. If you are accused of PEN 243, the penalties you receive are harsher compared to those of regular battery. These people that are protected by this statute include:
- Police officers or law enforcement officers
- Custodial officers
- Paramedics or emergency medical technicians
- Custody assistants
- Officers in charge of animal protection
- Traffic police officers
- Process servers
- Workers from the department of probation
- Members involved in search and rescue
According to the law, these individuals face danger every day in the performance of their duties. If you are convicted of a simple battery against a police officer, you will still face misdemeanor charges, but the penalties are more severe.
Proving Battery against a Peace Officer
Sometimes there are misunderstandings, and you end up being accused of a crime you never committed. However, if you are charged with battery against a peace officer, the prosecution has the burden to prove you indeed committed the offense. This they can do by establishing certain elements or facts of the offense. These are:
- The alleged battery victim was an officer of the peace, and he or she was carrying on with their duty when the offense occurred
- The accused unlawfully and willfully touched the alleged victim offensively or harmfully
- When the accused committed the offense, they were aware the person was an officer of the peace and was in the process of carrying out their duty.
When the above elements are proven to be true, then the defendant will be found guilty of the offense of battery against a peace officer.
In proving that the defendant knew the alleged victim was an officer of the peace, the prosecution must show evidence of the same. If there is no sufficient evidence to show that you knew the person was an officer of the peace, then you cannot be found guilty of the offense. Some of the facts the prosecutor must prove include:
- Was the officer of peace dressed in their official uniform?
- Did the alleged victim introduce themselves to you and state their status?
- Was the car the alleged victim driving well marked?
If the prosecutor can prove that you knew the alleged victim was an officer of the peace, then you will be found guilty of the offense. However, if there is no sufficient evidence to show that you knew the victim was a peace officer, you will not be guilty of this offense. However, the prosecutor may charge you with aggravated battery or simple battery depending on the facts of the offense.
Penalties for Violating PEN 243
If you are accused of a standard battery against an officer of the peace, you will be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges in California. The penalties you are likely to receive include:
- You may be sentenced to summary or misdemeanor probation
- You may face county jail imprisonment lasting a year or less
- You could be ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 or less alongside or instead of the jail sentence
If the battery resulted in severe injuries against a peace officer, you would likely be prosecuted on felony charges. A felony conviction carries harsher penalties compared to a misdemeanor conviction. According to the statute, any physical injury that may need to be attended to by a medical practitioner is serious. However, the peace officer does not need to have been treated for the injury for the charges to stick.
Sometimes, even when there are injuries, the offense can be charged as a misdemeanor. The prosecutor will look at your criminal background and the facts of the offense to decide how to prosecute you.
If you are convicted on misdemeanor charges, the penalties you will face are similar to when the battery resulted in no injuries. However, the fine charged increases and may be asked to pay $10,000 or less as a penalty.
If you are prosecuted on felony charges, it means the injuries caused were serious, or your criminal record and circumstances of the offense called for the kind of prosecution. The penalties, in this case, are more severe. They include:
- A possible formal or felony probation
- A county jail sentence that may last for sixteen, twenty-four or thirty-six months
- Being ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 or less
Legal Defenses for Violating PEN 243
When you are facing charges of battery against a peace officer, the penalties are harsher than those of battery against a regular person.
Nevertheless, you will require getting a criminal lawyer to defend you against these allegations. Some of the defense strategies your lawyer may use include:
Self-defense or in defense of others
A peace officer can behave in a manner that may require you to defend yourself or others against potential danger. To use this defense, you must prove that you believed you or another person was in actual danger, and the force you used you believed was necessary at the time. You must also demonstrate that the force you used was reasonable based on the situation. If your lawyer can prove this on your behalf, you will not be found guilty of the offense.
Your actions were not willful
One of the elements of this offense is to prove that you acted willfully. If your actions were not purposeful and you had no intention of causing harm, then you are not guilty of the offense.
The Alleged Victim was not Working
For you to be found guilty of this offense, there must be evidence the officer was carrying out their duties. If the officer was in a social gathering or any other place where he was off work when the offense occurred, he or she was not carrying out their duty. An officer engaged in unlawful acts such as arresting a person unlawfully, performing illegal seizures, or being involved in racial profiling, among others, is not on official duty.
If your lawyer can prove this, then you are innocent of the offense. However, you may be charged with ordinary battery or aggravated battery based on the circumstances of the offense.
PEN 273.5 – Corporal Injury against an Intimate Partner
This is a common offense in California that carries severe penalties as well. If the alleged victim of the aggravated battery is your intimate partner, you can be charged for this offense alongside aggravated battery charges.
An intimate partner, as described under this statute, will include:
- A former or current spouse
- Your child’s parent
- An old or current cohabitant
This offense can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If prosecuted on felony charges, you are likely to face state imprisonment lasting two, three, or four years.
Because the consequences of this offense are severe compared to those of aggravated battery, your lawyer can persuade the prosecution to reduce your charges to those of violating PEN 243(d).
If you are an immigrant, it is best to take a plea bargain and be charged with the lesser crime of aggravated battery. If you are found guilty of causing corporal injury to your intimate partner, it is a deportable crime, meaning you risk being deported.
Find a Criminal Lawyer Near Me
Aggravated battery allegations are not to be taken lightly. A conviction on the offense can taint your record and deny you many opportunities. Sometimes, the alleged victim may be falsifying the allegations, and without proper legal representation, you may be wrongfully convicted. Regardless, you must speak to a criminal lawyer that will help you defend yourself against the allegations. Get in touch with The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney who is experienced and ready to defend you against the charges. Call us at 310-564-2605, and let us discuss your case.