Whenever you are facing criminal charges for Battery, you need to contact the California Criminal Lawyer Group. Battery charges can lead to serious consequences, including jail time and fines. In addition to these consequences, your criminal record will remain on your record for some time, which affects your educational and career pursuits. A lawyer will help you understand the charges against you and prepare you for your defense against these charges.
Overview of Battery
Battery is the crime involving intentional, unlawful, and unwanted touching or use of physical force on someone else. California Battery laws are covered under PC 242. Battery involves the following elements, which the prosecution must prove for you to be convicted:
- You touched the victim in an intentional, offensive or injurious manner
- You knew that the act was offensive or hurtful
The law defines touching as physical contact with another person. Physical contact can be through the person’s clothing, or by the use of another object to touch the person. Touching the person willfully means you acted on purposes with, without the intention to break the law, hurt someone, or take any advantage.
When prosecuting Battery, courts look at the evidence of general intent. This means that acts committed in negligence or gross negligence also contribute to criminal Battery.
A harmful or offensive manner means touching someone in a way that is rude, violent, disrespectful, or angry.
Medical Battery is a form of Battery increasingly on the rise. It refers to the doctor’s violation of the patient’s right to choose the type of treatment or medical procedures they wish to be performed on them. If you are a doctor, performing a medical procedure that is different from the one the patient consented to, or one he or she did not consent to, then you are guilty of medical Battery. In most cases, medical Battery may expose you to medical malpractice lawsuits as well as criminal charges, especially if the patient suffers harm or injury.
Types of Battery
Battery is an umbrella term for crimes that involve the actual touching or infliction of physical force on another person, in an offensive or harmful manner. Battery can be in various forms such as:
Simple Battery involves the unlawful use of physical force or unwanted touching that causes little or no injury to the victim. If the victim is not a peace officer or a protected person, then the crime is Simple Battery. Simple Battery is a misdemeanor under California laws.
The penalties for Simple Battery include:
- Summary probation
- Not more than six months in county jail
- A fine not exceeding $2000
Aggravated Battery PC 242 (d)
Aggravated Battery involves:
- Touching another person in a willful, offensive and hurtful matter
- Resulting in serious bodily injury
The law defines physical injury as any severe impairment to the physical condition of another person, which requires them to get medical treatment. Serious bodily injuries include concussions, fractures, loss of consciousness, and serious disfigurement.
Aggravated Battery is a wobbler offense, and the penalties depend on the circumstances of the crime and your criminal history. Misdemeanor aggravated Assault includes the following penalties:
- Misdemeanor probation
- A maximum county jail term of one year
- Up to $1000 in fines
Felony aggravated Assault includes penalties such as:
- Formal probation
- 2,3 or 4 years in county jail
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Loss of firearm rights
Where Aggravated Battery causes great bodily injury (significant injury), then you get sentence enhancements on your felony charges. The sentence enhancement includes an additional and consecutive term of 3 to 6 years.
Battery on a Peace Officer PC 243 b & PC 243 c
Committing Battery against a peace officer is a serious crime under California law. A peace officer or other protected person employed by the government, state or local government and is responsible for dealing with crime or reporting crime. Peace officers and protected persons include the police, officers in the sheriff’s department, highway patrol officers, harbor and port police, custodial officers, lifeguards, firefighters, security officers EMTs, animal control officers, and doctors or nurses giving medical care.
Before you are prosecuted, the prosecution must prove that:
- You battered a peace officer or a protected person
- The peace officer was performing his or her duties at the time of the act
- You knew or should have reasonably known that the victim was a peace officer
To determine whether you knew, or should have reasonably known that the victim was a peace officer, the prosecution will consider:
- Whether the victim was in distinguishing uniform
- Whether the victim clearly identifies him or herself
- The victim had a clearly identifiable and marked vehicle
The penalties for Battery depend on the circumstances of the crime. Simple Battery on a Peace Officer is a misdemeanor in California. The penalties include summary probation, maximum of a year in county jail, and a fine of up to $2000.
Battery resulting in injury on a peace officer is a wobbler offense. Whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends on your criminal history and the details of the case. The penalties for a misdemeanor include a maximum county jail term of one year, fines of up to $10,000 and summary probation.
When charged as a felony, the penalties are:
- Felony probation
- 16 months, 2 or 3 years in county jail
- Fines not exceeding $10,000
Spousal (Domestic) Battery PC 243 (e) (1)
Spousal or Domestic Battery is the willful, unlawful and offensive or harmful touching committed against a current or past intimate partner. Such person’s against whom you may commit Spousal Battery include:
- A former or current spouse or cohabitant
- A former or current fiancé(e)
- A person you are currently or formerly dated
- The father or mother of your child
To be convicted of Domestic Battery, the victim does not have to suffer any physical injury. The touching should be offensive or harmful, especially if it were done in anger or disrespect.
Domestic violence is a misdemeanor punishable by a county jail term not exceeding a year, up to $2000 in fines and summary probation. You may also have to pay $5,000 to a battered women’s shelter and victim restitution, especially if you are placed on informal probation. Domestic Battery is a deportable crime.
Sexual Battery PC 243.4
Sexual Battery or Assault is the crime of touching the intimate parts of another person for sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse against the will of the victim. Sexual Battery does not necessarily involve penetration or intercourse. You may also be charged with Sexual Battery if you force the victim to touch your intimate parts, those of an accomplice or another person for sexual gratification, arousal or abuse.
The degree of Sexual Battery ranges from simple to aggravating. Simple Battery involves actions such as brushing against someone’s intimate parts. Aggravated Sexual Battery involves other violations or taking advantage of someone’s situation. Aggravating factors include:
- The offender or another person restrained the victim unlawfully
- The victim is institutionalized for medical treatment and has a severe physical disability or medical incapacitation
- The offender disguises the nature of the act by fraudulent representation
- The victim was made to touch the intimate parts of the perpetrator or another person when unlawfully restrained, institutionalized, or the act was fraudulently represented.
For the conviction, the prosecution has to prove that:
- You touched the victim directly or indirectly through clothing or using an object to touch him or her
- You touched the intimate part(s) of the victim. Intimate parts include a woman's breast, the anus, buttocks, groin or sexual organs of another person
- You touched the intimate parts of another person against their will. Consent in Sexual Battery means that the victim agreed voluntarily and freely with knowledge of the nature of the act. Falsely representing touching as necessary for a professional purpose is aggravated Sexual Battery.
- You touched the intimate part of the victim, against their will for sexual abuse. Sexual abuse refers to the intent to harm, humiliate, or intimidate the victim or hurt his or her private parts.
- You restrained the victim unlawfully by the use of words, actions, or authority to control the freedom of the victim without his or her consent. When the victim is lawfully restrained, taking advantage of his or her situation for sexual gratification, arousal or abuse, then the victim is unlawfully restrained.
Aiding or abetting Sexual Battery is punished as Sexual Battery. An accomplice to Sexual Battery is one who:
- Knows that the defendant is acting in a criminal manner, and
- Helps in any way in the commission of Sexual Battery
- Participates in the act
Misdemeanor Sexual Battery is punishable by:
- Up to six months in county jail
- Up to $2000 in fines, or $3000 if the victim was your employee
- Summary probation
- At least a ten-year registration as a tier one sex offender
Aggravated Sexual Battery is a wobbler offense. When convicted for a misdemeanor, the penalties include misdemeanor probation, a county jail term of up to one year and fines of $2000 or $3000 if the victim was an employee.
The penalties for felony sexual Assault include:
- Formal probation
- A California state prison term of 2, 3, or 4 years, and an additional and consecutive term of 3-5 years if the victim suffered significant physical injury
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Lifetime registration as a tier three sex offender
Common defenses for Battery
When you are facing Battery charges, your best chance is having a solid defense strategy. Your lawyer may use one or several strategies depending on the evidence against you and the circumstances of the crime. The most common defenses for Battery include:
Self Defense or Defense of Someone Else
You have the right to protect yourself, a loved one, or another person from harm. In such a case, you are allowed to use force or violence when appropriate. Therefore, if you battered someone when protecting yourself or another person, you may not be guilty of Battery.
You have to prove that:
- You had a reasonable belief that you or another person were in danger, whether or not the aggressor attacked or not
- You had a reasonable fear (your lawyer must prove that under the circumstances, a reasonable person would have been afraid).
- You used a reasonable amount of force against the aggressor
- You did not provoke the aggressor
- There was no reasonable escape from the situation
In case you used excessive force than was reasonable, your lawyer can also use the defense of imperfect self-defense to minimize the severity of the offense.
The Act Was Not Intentional or willful
A conviction for Battery requires that you intentionally touch the victim. Therefore, if you had no intent or accidentally touched someone, you can use a lack of intent as a defense. When you use an accident as a defense, it shows that:
- You did not intend to cause harm
- You did not act negligently
- The accident happened while engaged in lawful conduct
When someone tricks you into consuming an intoxicating substance, which impairs your judgment leading you to commit a crime, then you may not be guilty of Battery. You may be involuntarily intoxicated from illegal drugs and prescription drugs. Involuntary intoxication can be used to explain the lack of intent in committing Battery.
You can also use the defense of duress to lack of intent or willfulness in committing Battery. If you were under threat or intimidation from someone, which led to a reasonable fear for your life or that of another person, then the defense of duress is applicable. Duress is similar to self-defense, and you have to prove that you had no alternative except to commit Battery.
The Victim Gave Consent
Battery involves unlawful, offensive, or harmful touching that is against the will of the victim. However, if the victim gave consent to the touching, then you are not guilty of Battery. Your lawyer will have to prove that the alleged victim gave voluntary and informed consent and that the defendant acted within the limits of the acts to which the victim gave consent. Your lawyer can also show proof of sanity and the capability of the victim to understand the kind of the act to which they gave consent.
In addition, your lawyer must prove that the victim is of the right age to give consent. For instance, a minor cannot legally contest to sex.
The defendant can also cite implied consent as a defense. For example, if the Battery occurred in a boxing ring, the “victim” cannot sue the defendant, since they gave their consent by accepting to be in the ring.
If you are charged with Battery during a sports event, then your lawyer will have to prove the consent of the victim by:
- The circumstances the victim consented to do not involve serious bodily injury
- The harm is a reasonably foreseeable aspect and presents a risk that is reasonable and acceptable
- The victim receives some benefits from the conduct to justify the consent
You were Exercising Your Parental Right to Discipline Your Child
It is possible to be reported with Battery charges against a child, by a member of the community. Most parents are reported for inflicting corporal punishment on their children. California allows parents to choose the form of discipline appropriate for their child as long as it is reasonable.
If you are charged with Battery in a child abuse case, you can use the defense of the right to discipline your child. The defense applies when the act was reasonable and not excessive for the situation.
The court uses various factors to determine whether the discipline is reasonable, including:
- The age of the child
- The punishment given
- The child’s comprehension of the reason for the discipline
- The harm the child is exposed to or suffers injury
The Action Was Necessary For Performing Your Duties
In some professions such as law enforcement, you may need to use force in the performance of your duties. You may use force to prevent someone in custody from fleeing or to prevent injuries and fatalities. However, the use of excessive force could lead to Battery charges.
To prove that you were using force in the performance of your duties, you have to prove that:
- The victim resisted arrest or attempted to escape custody
- The amount of force was reasonable under the circumstances
In charges of Battery, it is possible for the “victim” to make false accusations in pursuit of revenge, anger, jealousy, mistaken identity, police misconduct, or out of malice. You and your lawyer will have to show evidence that indicates the plaintiff is making a false accusation against the defendant.
A lawyer will likely cross-examine witnesses and the plaintiff to establish inconsistencies or evidence supporting that you were falsely accused.
In some cases, you may be accused of committing Battery based on mistaken identity. In such a case, you can call on an alibi to prove that you were at a different place than the victim.
If the defense notices a weakness in the prosecution’s case, they take advantage of it. One such weakness could be insufficient evidence to prove that you committed Battery against the victim. The prosecution has the responsibility of proving each element of Battery beyond a reasonable doubt.
Plea Bargaining in Battery Cases
A plea bargain is a pretrial motion where you plead guilty to one or all of the charges for a sentence or charge reduction. The prosecution usually presents an offer that the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge for lesser sentencing. The prosecution will offer this alternative when the evidence against the defendant is insufficient, or the prosecution cannot obtain the statement of a witness. When a sentence is reduced, you are likely to be placed on probation instead of jail or prison.
Assault is the crime of intentionally and willfully attempting, or threatening to inflict physical harm or injury on another person. To be charged with Assault, you do not have to inflict injury or even touch the victim; the required standard is that you engage in intentional conduct that places a reasonable fear of bodily harm on the victim.
Simple Assault is a misdemeanor whose penalties include summary probation, six months in county jail, and fines of up to $1000. In the presence of aggravating factors such as an Assault on a peace officer, the penalties are a maximum county jail term of one year and fines of up to $2000.
Elder Abuse PC 368
Inflicting physical pain on a person aged above 65 years is a crime in California. Committing Battery on an elder can result in charges of Battery and Elder Abuse at the same time. Elder Abuse is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony.
The charges for misdemeanor Elder Abuse include
- Up to one year in county jail
- Informal probation
- $1000 in fines ( fines could exceed to $6000-$10,000 for subsequent offenses)
As a felony, the penalties include:
- 2 to 4 years in state prison
- Formal probation
- Fines not exceeding $10,000
- Victim restitution including counseling fees for the elder
Corporal Injury on a Spouse PC 273.5
Corporal Injury on a Spouse refers to the crime of willfully inflicting physical injury or a current or former intimate partner, and the injury results in a traumatic condition. PC 273.5 differs from Battery in that the victim must suffer a traumatic condition. The crime is more serious that Domestic Battery charges. Corporal Injury on a Spouse can, therefore, be reduced to Domestic Battery.
Corporal injury is a wobbler offense. Penalties for misdemeanor PC 273.5 violation include summary probation, a year in county jail and a fine of up to $6000. For a felony, the penalties are formal probation, 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison and a fine of up to $6,000.
Find a Battery Attorney Near Me
Hiring a criminal defense attorney should be the first step when you are arrested for Battery. Your lawyer will help you in preparing a solid defense strategy to have you acquitted, or the charges reduced or dismissed. The California Criminal Lawyer Group specializes in criminal defense and will help you fight any type of Battery charges. Call us today at 408-622-0204 for a free consultation.