Battery Defense

California law makes it a crime to touch another person without their consent. Even if the alleged victim does not suffer any injury, you can still be found guilty of this crime of battery. Just the fact that you touched them – or caused an object to touch them – in a harmful or offensive way is enough to break the law, and California District Attorneys will aggressively pursue a criminal charge against those accused.

Battery in California

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:

  1. You had intent; and
  2. The touching was harmful or offensive.

If the district attorney is unsuccessful in proving either of these elements, the charges against you will not hold up.

The Act Must Be Willful

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.

Penalties for a Simple Battery

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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.

Penalties for Aggravated Battery in California

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.

Battery Causing Great Bodily Harm 

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.

Battery Against a Peace Officer

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.

Defenses to Battery in California

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.