You can be accused of battery even if you barely came into contact with another person and he/she finds it offensive. It makes no difference if the individual was not physically injured. If you are facing simple battery charges, contact the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney today for a free consultation. We recognize how trying this kind of situation could be for you and your loved ones. We will dedicate our full attention to your case and make sure you get the support and assistance you deserve.
An Overview of California Simple Battery
Under PEN 242, a battery is defined as any purposeful and illegal use of violence or force against another person. Even though this explanation is straightforward, understanding actions that could lead to these charges can be difficult. It might not always be obvious that you acted violently or utilized force against someone purposely.
The law doesn't demand that the purported victim have any injuries, which makes the case even more complicated. To face simple battery charges, you don't even need to touch the victim. A battery according to Penal Code 242 can be committed when you purposefully spit or hurl something at someone.
The Difference Between Assault and Battery Charges
The term "assault and battery" is commonly used together, which could give the impression that they are interchangeable, making it difficult for many individuals to understand the distinction between the two.
In actuality, California battery and assault are two very separate charges. The distinction includes:
- California PEN 240 assault is defined as any activity that has the potential to cause bodily harm or inappropriate physical contact against another person (this definition includes more complex forms of assault crimes, such as assault using caustic substances), while
- California PEN 242 defines battery as the actual use of violence or force against another person
The difference between an assault and a battery is that an assault need not always entail direct physical contact. In other words, a battery could be viewed as an already executed assault, while an assault is viewed as an attempted battery.
Proving the Defendant is Guilty of a Battery Offense
A battery offense is defined as the willful and uninvited touching of someone else under California PEN 242. The prosecutors have to prove the following beyond a shadow of a doubt to convict you of this crime:
- You touched another person
- You did that willfully, and
- In an offensive manner
The prosecutor cannot convict you of battery if they are unable to establish every one of these criteria. It should be noted that a battery charge under penal code 242 does not require a violent beating. You could face battery charges even though the victim didn’t sustain any physical injuries. The prosecution only needs to demonstrate that you were in contact with the plaintiff unpleasantly.
You Touched Someone Else
This ingredient of the crime can be satisfied by any contact with another individual. You don't need to hurt the person. The tiniest amount of touch can suffice for this charge. For example, spitting is seen as an example of a battery offense. Spitting is regarded as an offensive type of contact or touch even when it doesn't harm the other individual.
Keep in mind that the contact doesn't need to be done directly. When you use something to touch someone else, you run the risk of committing a battery. For the sake of PEN 242, touching/contact" or "touching" has satisfactorily taken place if, for instance, you throw a pen towards someone and it hits them. According to California battery laws, coming into contact with any item that’s closely tied to the victim's person constitutes battery. An example of this is ripping off someone's clothing.
Willfully translates as having meant to carry out the offense that led to the act of battery. Willfully doesn't necessarily imply that you planned on causing harm or breaching the law. For instance, you might pick up a lamp and toss it on the floor during a heated disagreement with your partner. The lamp then hits your partner's leg. Even though you didn't mean to hit or injure your partner with the vase, you intended on tossing it in his/her direction. You also knew—or at the very least, you should be aware —that the lamp would hit them. You could be charged with battery for this act.
In an Unpleasant Manner
The contact should be offensive for it to qualify as a battery. Any physical contact that's violent, unpleasant, or rude is offensive. A common instance of a battery offense is spitting at someone. Spitting at someone is objectively seen as offensive even when it doesn't hurt them.
Examples of Battery Offenses
- Two colleagues get into an argument, and one of them picks up a stapler from her desk and throws it at her colleague, hurting her. Since she hurled the stapler, which caused it to make unpleasant contact with the other person, the first party could be accused of and found guilty of battery
- A man spots a member of a rival gang, pulls out his revolver, and fires at him. The bullet misses the target by a whisker. Given that there was no unpleasant or harmful contact, that man can't be found guilty of battery. Nevertheless, the man could be prosecuted with assault using a lethal weapon
- Due to her child's misbehavior, a parent is summoned and requested to visit her daughter's school. The parent is upset by the teacher's comments, and as a result, she spits on the child’s teacher. Even though the teacher was not harmed, the parent can undoubtedly be accused of and found guilty of battery since she touched the teacher with her saliva
- A man approaches a woman he is interested in and takes a seat next to her in a pub. She refuses to engage with him despite his attempts to speak with her. He takes her by her waist and continues to flirt as she stands up and starts to move to get away. Due to the unpleasant nature of the touch, he initiated on her, this man could be accused of and found guilty of battery
A simple battery charge is often considered a misdemeanor and is punished less harshly than crimes classified as felony crimes. Nevertheless, there are several situations in which a battery charge will result in harsher punishments and possibly a felony prosecution. These situations are referred to as aggravating factors.
There are 3 main categories of aggravating factors for the battery offense.
The first category focuses on the battery victim nature. More severe punishments for battery could be applied when the victim was:
- A firefighter
- Law enforcement officer
- Correctional officer
- Emergency medical technician
- traffic officer, or
- Another member of a related public service occupation, while actively doing their duties
Secondly, when the victim suffers serious physical injury as a result of the offense, the battery charges will be handled more harshly and likely lead to harsher punishments. This aggravating factor instead examines the type of the battery as well as the impact it left on the victim, rather than the victim's nature.
Lastly, and once more focused on the victim's nature, more serious penalties could be applied where the victim is the defendant's girlfriend, spouse, boyfriend, ex-spouse, ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, and so forth. Domestic violence is the common term used to describe this.
Penalties for Simple Battery
Simple battery is charged as a misdemeanor. However, the battery could be prosecuted as either a minor or a misdemeanor when one or even more aggravating factors are present. Particularly, battery causing significant bodily injury as well as battery perpetrated against a peace officer acting in the course of their duty can both be punished as felony offenses.
Without any aggravating factors, domestic violence is often prosecuted as a misdemeanor, although it comes with additional conditions and penalties. Penalties for a misdemeanor or a simple battery include the following:
- 3 years of summary or misdemeanor probation
- A county jail sentence of a maximum of 6 months
- Fines amounting to $2,000 could be imposed
Penalties for simple battery on a peace officer that does not lead to injuries include:
- 3 years of summary/misdemeanor probation
- A county jail sentence of a maximum of one year; or
- Fines amounting to $2,000
Penalties for felony battery against a peace officer that results in injury include:
- Formal or felony probation for 5 years
- Maximum sentence of three years behind bars
- Fines amounting to $10,000
Felony battery that causes significant physical harm could lead to the following fines and penalties:
- Formal or formal probation for 5 years
- A state prison sentence of two, three, or four years
- Fines amounting to $10,000
If you are found guilty of misdemeanor domestic abuse battery, you could face the following sanctions:
- 3 years of summary or misdemeanor probation
- County jail sentence for up to a year
- Fines amounting to $2,000
Additionally, after receiving probation for a domestic violence battery conviction, the offender is obliged to participate in and finish a batterer's therapy program (or another similar and qualified program) for at least a year. They could be mandated to pay fines amounting to $5,000, and refund counseling charges to a shelter for battered women.
Simple battery is charged as a misdemeanor offense, but pleading guilty or being convicted will result in a permanent criminal record. This record follows you throughout your life as you submit applications for jobs, housing, and school. A simple battery conviction could scare off potential employers, teachers, or landlords by giving them a reason to worry that you're violent, which could cost you valuable opportunities.
Fighting battery charges is essential for several reasons, but avoiding getting a criminal record is important for preserving your potential to pursue an education, build a career, and raise a family.
Simple Battery And Related Issues
Simple battery charges are often filed against parents or guardians who without ill intention try to discipline their child. As a parent or guardian, you could use physical force to discipline your child so long as the force used is not excessive and reasonable under the conditions.
For instance, pulling your child's arm as he/she is preparing to run away into the middle of the road is a justifiable force used to protect and discipline your child. Slapping a child across the face simply because he or she fails to finish his/her food is regarded as an excessive and unreasonable force.
Legal Defenses For Simple Battery
The best approach to defend yourself against California battery charges is with the assistance of a professional criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with California battery laws. He/she understands how to use the following—and other—legal defense arguments to help fight these charges:
You Acted in Self-Defense or the Defense of Another Person
The legal argument of self-defense/protection of others applies to California battery charges where all of the following factors are true:
- You had a reasonable belief that you or another individual was in danger of sustaining bodily harm or being illegally touched
- You had a reasonable belief that immediate use of force was required to protect you or the other individual against that danger
- You used a reasonable amount of force that was necessary to protect you or the other person against the danger
However, no matter how unpleasant the words used are, they are not sufficient to support a simple battery charge. You could only justify acting in self- or others' defense if you had a reasonable belief that an individual was in imminent danger of being illegally touched for no reason or suffering physical harm.
Parental Rights to Discipline a Child
Simple battery charges are often filed against parents in conjunction with California PC 273(d) child abuse. In such cases involving parents' actions against their child, the purported "battery" is often a legal act of disciplining their kids. Battery charges, like child abuse allegations, can be countered by proving that your actions were within the legal parental rights to discipline your young one. Physical force can be used by parents to discipline their children as long as it is "appropriate" and not excessive.
You Didn't Act Maliciously
It is not necessary to have had malicious intent to commit battery under PC 242, but you must have perpetrated the act "willfully" to be found guilty. So, if the offense was entirely unintentional, you could be able to argue that you committed the act accidentally.
Offenses Related to Simple Battery
The following crimes are related to PC 242 simple battery.
A Battery Act on a Peace Officer
If you are accused of battery against a peace officer, you risk facing severe consequences. These officers include any law enforcement or police officer, firefighter, custodian officer, emergency technician, parking enforcement officer, process server, probation officer, animal control officer, any other employee in the probation department, and a nurse or doctor offering emergency services.
To find you guilty of battery on a peace officer, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you were aware or should have known that your target victim was any of the above-mentioned professionals. Also, he or she should have been active in the execution of their duties at the time when the alleged battery took place.
If the alleged battery on a peace officer didn't lead to an injury, you could be prosecuted with a misdemeanor charge and face up to one year in jail. On the other hand, if the purported battery against a peace officer led to injuries, the alleged battery could be punished as either a misdemeanor crime or a felony crime, depending on the facts of the crime and the nature of the injuries. When accused of a felony, you could spend 16 months, two years, or three years in prison.
Battery Causing Significant Bodily Injury
If you cause serious bodily harm to another person while perpetrating battery, you could be convicted under PC 243d. Battery under this provision is often referred to as "aggravated battery."
A "serious bodily" injury involves any serious damage or impairment of the physical body's condition, like a shattered bone. It's important to note that "great bodily injury" and "severe bodily injury" are different in that the latter inevitably involves physical impairment whereas the former does not.
An aggravated felony under PC 243(d) is classified as a wobbler, which implies it could be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the specifics of the crime and your criminal record. PC 243(d) as a misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to one year in jail. On the other hand, PC 243(d) as a felony offense carries a prison sentence of two, three, or four years.
The nature of the injuries caused, the type of weapon used to perpetrate the harm, and your criminal record will all influence whether you receive a low term of 2 years, a mid-term of 3 years, a high term of 4 years, suspended, probation or a combination of a jail time and suspended time for aggravated battery. This combination is normally referred to as a joint suspension.
Domestic Battery Under PC 243e(i)
Domestic battery, like a battery on a peace officer, is normally characterized by the victim's class or type. You'll be convicted of domestic battery under PC 243e(1) if the claimed battery was perpetrated against a former or current spouse, cohabitant, the parent of your children, or any individual you once dated or are currently in a relationship with.
Simple domestic battery, as defined by PC 243e(1), is a misdemeanor punishable by hefty fines of not more than $2000, a jail term of up to one year, and informal probation along with a batterer's treatment program for one year.
This is defined under provisions of California PEN 243.4 as a battery act on another individual's "intimate part." To convict the offender of this crime, the prosecutor must show that the defendant not only knowingly and offensively touched the "intimate part" of another person, but he or she did so for his/her sexual arousal or gratification, or to harass or harass that individual.
Based on the specifics of the crime, the sexual battery could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, the purported battery can be treated as a felony when it was recurrent or when the victim had been physically restrained at the time the offense was perpetrated.
You could receive a jail term of one year or a six-month sentence for misdemeanor sexual battery, according to the facts of the case. You could also receive a two, three, or four-year prison sentence for sexual battery charged as a felony. Sexual assault under Penal Code 243.4 necessitates that you register yourself as a sexual predator regardless of whether you've been accused of a felony or a misdemeanor.
Elder Abuse Under Penal Code 368
It is illegal to intentionally or carelessly cause unjustified bodily pain or mental distress to anyone who is at or above the age of 65 years, according to California's PC 368, elder abuse statute.
Penal Codes 242 and 368 could be utilized against you when you're suspected of battery on a person who is at or above the age of 65 years. If tried as a felony offense, this crime is a wobbler that carries maximum fines amounting to $6,000 as well as a possible state prison term of two, 3, or even 4 years.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney For Battery Charges Near Me
If you or someone you know is facing battery charges, you should quickly call an expert criminal lawyer to represent and defend your rights. At the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, our criminal defense lawyers have successfully defended clients facing battery charges in the previous years. We are equipped with the skills and expertise needed to get the most favorable outcome for you. Call us today at 424-333-0943 to set up your free initial consultation.