California Penal Code Section 242 defines battery as “the willful or unlawful use of force or violence” against another person. The district attorney handling your case will have to prove the following elements of the offense in order to get a conviction:
If the district attorney is unsuccessful in proving either of these elements, the charges against you will not hold up.
The act of battery must have been done willfully, though this does not necessarily mean that you intended to harm the victim or break the law. It only means that you intended to touch the other person. You cannot be found guilty of battery if you did not act intentionally.
Remember, only contact that is harmful or offensive is a crime.
If convicted of a simple misdemeanor battery, you may face up to 6 months in a California county jail, a $2,000 fine, and probation.
What happens when the victim does suffer an injury or if the victim is a member of a protected class? In those cases, you can face charges for aggravated battery, and the penalties associated with this crime are much greater than those associated with simple battery.
Great bodily harm is defined as “any serious impairment of physical condition,” though it is important to note that the term is subjective, and the finder of fact (the judge or the jury) will determine if the victim’s injuries are sufficient enough to warrant aggravated charges.
If it is determined that the battery victim did, in fact, suffer great bodily harm, you can be charged with battery as a misdemeanor or a felony.
A misdemeanor battery causing great bodily harm conviction can result in up to one year in a California county jail, whereas a felony conviction can result in two, three, possibly even four years in a California state prison.
If the victim of a battery is a member of a statutorily protected class, under 243(b) PC, you can be charged with an aggravated battery offense carrying up to three years in jail.
In other words, you may be charged with aggravated battery if you knew, or should have known, that the victim of the battery was a peace officer, custodial officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic, lifeguard, security officer, custody assistant, process server, traffic officer, code enforcement officer, animal control officer, search and rescue member, probation department employee, or a doctor or nurse giving emergency medical care.
A battery charge does not automatically mean a battery conviction. Hiring an attorney like Donald Gray Drewry to handle your case is the best way to reduce the potential criminal consequences you face. He finds the best defense for each individual case, whether it’s arguing in favor of self-defense or arguing that the charge does not meet the one of the required criteria.