According to California Penal Code Section 242, battery is defined as “any willful and unlawful use of violence upon the person of another”. However, this doesn’t imply that the use of force must have been severe or violent. It is also not a necessity for the acts to have yielded substantial bodily harm, injury, or pain to the victim for it to qualify as battery. According to the statute, any form of offensive or harmful touching qualifies to be an unlawful use of force or violence. This, therefore, means that even the slightest unlawful touching could amount to battery. The defendant may face severe penalties if the victim suffers serious bodily injuries resulting from their unlawful acts. If this is the case, then the charges are changed from simple battery to battery causing serious bodily injuries.
The force being referred to in this case could either be direct or indirect touching. When contact is made by either tripping, kicking, or punching another person, it is referred to as direct touching. Indirect touching, on the other hand, occurs by either forcing one to jump from a moving vehicle or window or causing or using an object or instrument to unlawfully touch the person of another. In addition, touching a victim with a bag, clothing, or purse amounts to touching another person.
Elements of Battery
To prove you guilty of committing battery, the prosecutor must demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that;
- You touched the person of another
- in a willful manner and
- in a harmful or offensive way
Touched the person in another
To satisfy this element of the crime, there must be physical contact with someone else. Under the California Penal Code 242, there is more to touching than it sounds. Touching not only include direct touching but also indirect touching. In other words, actions, like kicking another person or punching them, are considered as a direct contact. Others like forcing an individual in a manner that makes them commit the touching on another person or causing an object to touch another person are referred to as indirect touch.
This element means that you deliberately or purposefully committed the act that leads to the battery. You will be convicted of battery even in the event that you did not breach the law or caused injuries to another person, provided that your act is proven to have been intentional. For instance, if there is a disagreement between a couple, and one couple gets angry and throws a glass aiming at the wall and it happens to hit the other on the head, this is considered a willful act. Well, it’s clear that they did not intend to hit their partner, it’s, however, clear that they purposefully threw the glass.
Harmful or offensive
One can be convicted of battery if the prosecution can prove that the defendant’s actions were harmful or offensive. This means that during the occurrence the defendant’s manner of action was either rude, ferocious, angry or insolent. Basically, when determining whether defendant touch to the victim amounts to battery, more focus is directed to the manner in which the touching was done. This shows that it is not a primary requirement for the casualty to have sustained injuries in order for the defendant to be charged with battery. Nonetheless, if the victim was hurt or underwent substantial pain, bruise, or injury, this can be used as evidence in building up a strong case against the defendant. However, there are other actions that might not be as harmful as stated above, acts like spitting at another person. Even though the act itself does not cause any injury to the victim, spitting on another person is empirically viewed as offensive, which amounts to battery. Also, you can be charged with battery if you are found to have instigated a harmful or offensive contact to something that is an extension of another person.
Penalties for Battery under the California Law
Given that there are disparities of battery that you can be charged with, the potential penalties you face may be determined by the evidence of your case. The penalties for simple battery, sexual battery, elder abuse, domestic battery, battery causing serious bodily injury, and battery on a peace officer vary.
Simple Battery under California Penal Code 242
Simple battery is prosecuted as a misdemeanor crime that does not in any way lead to severe injury to someone else. If you are charged with simple battery, here are some of the potential penalties you are likely to face;
- Informal or Summary probation
- A maximum of 6 months in a county jail, and/or
- A fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000)
Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury PC 243(d)
This is battery that results in serious damages to the victim. Battery causing serious bodily injury is also referred to as aggravated battery. With it comes severe penalties compared to a simple battery. Serious bodily injury, according to California law, involves severe physical impairment like a broken limb. This crime can be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony. When one is convicted of a misdemeanor under PC 243 (d), they may face a maximum of one year in county jail. As a felony, the defendant is likely to face 2, 3, or 4 years in a state prison.
Sexual Battery under California Penal Code 243.4
The act of willful and unlawful touching of the person of another in an unsolicited intimate way, and in an offensive and harmful manner, is what is referred to as a sexual battery. Depending on the prosecutor's will and conditions of the case, sexual battery may be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or felony, given that it’s a wobbler. Under California Penal Code Section 243.4, penalties for sexual battery constitutes up to one year in county jail, and a fine not exceeding $2,000. If one convicted of a felony under PC 243.3, the potential penalties that they could face include two years, three years or four years in state prison or a fine not exceeding $10,000. Furthermore, a conviction of sexual battery would require the defendant to register as a sexual offender.
Domestic Battery (Penal Code 243[e] )
This form of battery involves willful and unlawful acts committed against a cohabitant or ex-cohabitant, former or present spouse, former fiancé or fiancé, the other parent of your kid or an individual you had an intimate relationship with. This crime is charged as misdemeanor which comes with the following penalties;
- One year in county jail
- A fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000)
- A mandatory batterer’s treatment program
Battery on a Peace Officer Penal Code 243[b] and 243[c] )
This is basically a crime of battery that is committed against professionals whose job is to maintain peace and enforce the law. a good example of these professionals include firefighters, peace officers, security officers, lifeguards, nurses and doctors offering emergency services, animal control officers, custody assistant, traffic officers, custodial officer, emergency medical technician (EMT) paramedic, code enforcement officers, employee of a probation department, search and rescue member, and process servers. When there are no injuries sustained during the incident, the defendant may face a penalty of one year in county jail, but if the crime turns out to be a felony they may end up facing 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in county jail.
Elderly Abuse (Penal Code 368)
Elderly abuse is basically abuse imposed upon persons aged 65 years and above. The most interesting thing about this crime is that it can be charged as PC 242 and PC 368. Elderly abuse crime can be charged as felony or misdemeanor since it is considered a “wobbler.” The prosecution of this crime also relies most on the prosecutor’s discretion and circumstances of the case. There are two possible penalties one can face if convicted of felony elderly abuse and this includes two, three or four years in state prison and a fine of up to $6,000.
Common Legal Defenses to Battery (PC 242)
Apart from facing the potential penalties under penal code 242, the criminal charges can be reflected in your personal criminal records if charged with this kind of crime. The worst part about this is that criminal records can hinder you from getting a decent job since no employer would wish to sign up an individual with a criminal record especially after carrying out a criminal background check. It’s, therefore, important to seek the service of a qualified lawyer. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney we have a team of experienced criminal defense lawyers qualified in handling battery crimes in the greater Pasadena area. Our attorneys will scrutinize your case in detail and build a legal defense that could be used in fighting the charges against you.
The following are some of the legal defenses Pasadena Criminal Attorney will use in fighting the battery charges against you:
- You acted in self-defense or defense of another person
This defense can be affirmed if you rationally believed you or another person was exposed to the danger of being touched illegitimately or suffering an injury, and you equally believed that the only way to put an end to this is by acting with immediate force in defending yourself or somebody else from the threat. Remember you can only claim self-defense if the force you applied during the incident was reasonably necessary and relative to that which was used on you or the other person. The force should only be what another reasonable person would use if faced with the same circumstances.
- Lack of willfulness
In order for you to be convicted of battery, the prosecutor must demonstrate that the touching was not only unlawful but also purposeful. If you did not act deliberately during the incident and the battery was accidental, then you can’t be found guilty of the crime. The most significant step to take is to contact an attorney when faced with kind of charges if you believe that you did not act in bad faith. Our Pasadena Criminal Attorney will work hard to ensure that we establish a strong defense against charges.
- Parental right to discipline a child
There are many incidents here in California where parents have been charged with child abuse under PC 273 [d]. Child abuse is basically battery against a minor. Building a defense against this kind of battery charge would require one to demonstrate that the parent was exercising their rights as parents to discipline their child provided the force applied was reasonable and not extreme under the circumstances.
- Wrongfully accused
There are a number of incidents where victims have falsely accused others of committing battery on them when in the real sense their allegations are only on the basis of revenge, anger, or jealousy. The best way to contest wrongful accusations is by contacting a qualified criminal attorney who clearly understands how to defend you from this kind of allegations. Your attorney can check the background of the alleged victim in order to establish whether they have a history of force allegations. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney we know what is best for our clients and we will work hard to ensure your charges are dismissed or reduced.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we understand that most individuals facing battery accusations find it hard to narrate their side of the story. It’s imperative to understand that the authorities involved can establish incorrect assumptions concerning what conspired during the occurrence based on the statement by the purported victim. If you hire us, we will carry out our own investigations to establish whether all the vital aspects that must be taken into account were considered before the battery charge against you was filed. It’s through this exercise that our criminal attorneys will be able to determine whether the following concerns were considered;
- Was the purported victim drunk when the incident occurred?
- Was the attack provoked by the victim?
Unlike other law firms, the lawyers at Pasadena Criminal law firm ensure that such critical questions are answered. We’ve come across numerous cases wherein the defendant is facing charges of the battery when in the real sense they were only acting in self-defense from an imminent attack. With an experienced criminal attorney on your side, you will be able to get a fair hearing. Seeking our legal representation won’t be in vain since our professionals have unsurpassed knowledge in handling battery charges.
If you’ve been accused of battery and you are looking for an experienced criminal attorney who will handle your case with absolute contemplation and concern, please contact Pasadena Criminal Attorney at 626-689-2277 and schedule a free, confidential consultation.