Battery

Battery is made unlawful under Penal Code sections 242 and 243. You often hear the term “assault and battery” as if it is one crime. It is not; each are distinct crimes. You may be surprised to learn that assault is an attempt to use force upon another whereas battery is the actual “harmful or offensive” touching of another.

Orange County battery defense attorney William Weinberg explains California’s battery laws.

1) SIMPLE BATTERY (Penal Code section 242)

Most people aren’t aware that simple battery can be charged for even the slightest touch. Simple battery only requires that the touch be done in a “harmful and offensive manner.”

In order to be charged with simple battery, the touching:

  • must have been done on purpose; an offensive touch that happened entirely by accident is not battery,
  • was not done in self-defense or in an attempt to defend another, and
  • was not done in the reasonable disciplining of a child.

2) AGGRAVATED BATTEY (Penal Code section 243(d))

Aggravated battery is the purposeful touching of another person in a harmful or offensive manner that causes the other person serious bodily injury.

In order to be charged with aggravated battery, the touching:

  • must cause a serious bodily injury to another person,
  • must have been done on purpose; a touching, even one that resulted in a serious injury, that happened entirely by accident is not an aggravated battery,
  • was not done in self-defense or in an attempt to defend another, and
  • was not done in the reasonable disciplining of a child.

Serious bodily injury is an injury that impairs a person’s physical condition. For example, it could be a deep wound, a bone fracture, or a coma. However, there is no prerequisite that the serious bodily injury required medical care.

The term is not well-defined beyond requiring that the injury has somehow impaired the injured person’s physical condition and it is left to the trier of fact (judge or jury) to determine whether the injury falls under the definition of serious bodily injury. As an experienced battery defense attorney in Orange County, William Weinberg has succeeded in getting many felony battery charges reduced to a simple misdemeanor battery because the prosecution lacked substantive evidence to prove a serious bodily injury.

3) BATTERY ON A POLICE OFFICER, FIRST RESPONDER AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS (Penal Code section 243 (b) and (c))

When a battery is committed on a peace officer, a first responder, or a number of public servants or health care workers listed in the statue, the battery carries enhanced penalties and in certain instances can be charged as a felony with a possible prison sentence if convicted as a felony offense. It may be charged as felony battery if the officer or other professional is injured during the course of the battery. This crime requires that the offender knew, or should have reasonably known, that the professional was performing his or her duties, although there is no requirement that the victim was officially on duty or in uniform at the time he or she was battered.

In order to be charged with this crime, the touching:

  • must have been done on purpose; an offensive touch that happened entirely by accident is not battery,
  • was not done in self-defense or in an attempt to defend another,
  • must be committed upon an officer, first responder, or other enumerated professional while that person was performing his or her duties, and
  • if charged as a felony, must have caused an injury to the victim.

An injury sustained under this code section is one that “requires professional medical treatment.” However, there is no requirement that the victim actually obtained medical treatment for the injury. Conversely, even though the victim did seek medical attention for the injury where none was required, the injury is not considered serious under this code section.

Battery charged under this section can be a serious charge with unpleasant consequences, including incarceration in prison. It is important that a person who has been charged with battering one of these protected persons (which includes not only police officers, firefighters and other first responders but also lifeguards, process servers, animal control officers, probation department employees, health care workers performing emergency care and sworn peace officers employed as private security guards) consult with a knowledgeable battery defense attorney.

Examples of Battery
  1. Sheila and June get into an argument. As the argument heats up, June gets in Sheila’s face and starts pushing Sheila on her shoulder. Sheila is not injured but June has committed a simple battery by pushing Sheila’s shoulder in an offensive manner. Even though both women participated in the argument, June crossed the line when she purposely started pushing Sheila’s shoulder.
  2. Jimmy pushes a woman on the ground as he steals her purse. The woman sprains her ankle requiring that she stay off it for several days. Jimmy has committed an aggravated battery (as well as other crimes) because he pushed the woman causing her to sustain a serious bodily injury.
  3. Paramedics are attending to a woman injured in a vehicle accident. Her distraught husband interferes with their efforts by trying to pull the paramedics away from his wife. Although his acts are driven by his emotional distress, he has still committed a battery against a person protected under Penal Code section 243(b). If one of the paramedics is injured in the scuffle, to a degree that the injury is one that requires medical care, the husband has violated Penal Code section 243(c)(1) and may be charged with a felony battery.
Defenses
  • The battery was in self-defense or in the defense of others.
    Touching another person in a harmful or offensive manner, whether the touching causes an injury or not and even in some cases if committed on a person listed under Penal Code sections 243(b) and (c), is not a battery if the touching was necessary to defend yourself or another innocent person.
  • The battery was not done on purpose.
    Even if the touching causes a serious injury or is committed upon a person listed under Penal Code sections 243(b) and (c), but occurs purely by accident, it is not a battery.
  • Reasonably disciplining a child.
    If the touching of a child, even one that causes a serious injury to the child, occurred in the course of reasonably disciplining a child, it is not a battery. This defense—particularly if the child suffered an injury—would only be available in very special circumstances, such as grabbing a child who is about to step in front of a moving car. It is not available as an excuse for child abuse.
  • If the injury sustained by the victim was not actually serious, it is not an aggravated or felony battery.
    Orange County battery defense attorney William Weinberg has many years of experience developing defenses to battery charges. Each case is unique and it often takes a trained eye to recognize a defense where none appear on the face of the evidence.
Penalties

1) SIMPLE BATTERY

Simple battery is always charged as a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence not to exceed six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.00. In most cases, a person convicted of simple battery will be sentenced to a term of informal probation rather than incarceration.

2) AGGRAVATED BATTERY

Aggravated battery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. When a crime can be charged as one or the other, it is known as a wobbler.

An aggravated battery charged as a misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to one year in county jail and/or fines. Often the sentence will be suspended and the defendant will be ordered to serve a term of informal probation.

An aggravated battery charged as felony can result in a two, three, or four-year sentence in prison and/or fines. The judge may suspend the sentence and order a term of formal probation.

3) BATTERY ON PERSONS LISTED IN PENAL CODE SECTION 243(b) and (c)

If the victim did not sustain an injury, the offense is a misdemeanor that carries a possible term of incarceration in county jail for up to one year and/or fines. A grant of informal probation is often ordered instead of incarceration.

If the victim sustained an injury, the offense is a wobbler. If charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is imprisonment in county jail up to one year and/or fines. A grant of formal probation may be ordered instead of time in jail.

If charged as a felony, the maximum punishment is 16 months, two, or three years in prison and/or fines. The court may order formal probation instead.

Often the court will also order the defendant to attend anger management classes or counseling whether the battery caused injury or not. This is often included in the terms and conditions of probation.

Related Offenses

CONTACT ORANGE COUNTY BATTERY DEFENSE
ATTORNEY WILLIAM WEINBERG FOR HELP.

For almost 25 years, Mr. Weinberg has been defending those accused of battery in Orange County. He is pleased to offer a free confidential consultation to discuss your matter. You may contact him at his Irvine office at (949) 474-8008 or email him at bill@williamweinberg.com.