An act of battery is any willful or unlawful use of force on another person. Even when an injury does not occur, you can still be charged under California Penal Code 242 battery law. Understanding the dynamics of a battery charge can be difficult. If you or your loved one is facing battery charges, it is essential to seek the legal representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our group of competent Santa Ana attorneys at Darwish Law will work to ensure that your legal rights are adequately defended and protected during the case proceedings. Get in touch with us if you are facing battery or related criminal charges.
Overview of California Penal Code 242 (Battery Law)
Under California Penal Code 242, you will be arrested and charged with battery if you unlawfully touch someone else in an offensive or harmful way. The prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime:
- You Came in Contact with the Victim
For an act to be considered a battery in California, you must have physical contact with someone else. Even when your contact did not cause any injury, you can still be convicted of a battery. If the prosecutor does not show that you came into contact with the victim, you cannot be guilty of battery. It is also important to understand that touching another person’s clothing or even violently knocking an item from someone’s hand can be treated as a battery.
- Your Contact with the Victim was Wilful
You must also have willfully or purposely touched the other person. You can still be charged under the penal Code 242 even if by initiating contact with the victim, you did not intend to gain an advantage. To be guilty of battery, you don’t need to have the intention to commit the offense as long as you willingly touched the other person.
- Your Actions were Harmful or Offensive
Touching will only be considered a battery if it was done in an offensive way, which could be rude, sexual, or even violent. Even in cases where you were voluntarily intoxicated, you are considered to be willingly offensive since intoxication is an offense in itself. If you are facing battery charges in California, it is crucial to get legal representation.
Often, people will find it difficult to differentiate between battery and assault, making it challenging to understand the charges they are facing. In California, battery and assault are different offenses. Unlike a battery where the crime begins from unlawful contact, no physical contact is required to prove assault. An assault is an action that will inflict bodily injury on the victim. It is essential to understand what you are charged with so that you understand possible defenses for your situation.
Legal Penalties for Battery
Under California Penal Code 242, a battery is charged as a misdemeanor, which carries the following penalties:
- Up to six months in jail
- Hefty fines, which do not exceed two thousand dollars ($2000)
- Misdemeanor probation. This is an informal probation where you will be required to carry out community service and labor, anger management classes as well as other forms of counseling.
If the victim of your actions is a police officer, a firefighter, or other peace officers in the community, then your penalties may be enhanced. In situations where the victim suffered severe bodily injury, the offense will be charged as a felony that carries a sentence of up to four years in state prison. Also, this offense will be considered a strike on your record that acts as a basis of penalty enhancement for future convictions.
A conviction under Penal Code 242 of California has both legal and social consequences. Simple battery is considered a violent crime in California. A conviction for this offense will show up in the background checks made by employers. This may affect your chances of getting decent employment and a place to live. Most people in the society are reluctant to socialize with ex-convicts, thus if you are convicted for battery, your relationships with people may be affected. If you or your loved one is facing battery charges, ensure you have the help and legal guidance of a competent criminal defense attorney.
Legal Defenses Against Battery
Getting arrested and charged under the Penal Code 242 of California does not always mean you will be convicted. Sometimes you may be wrongfully accused or even be charged for an act you did not commit willfully. The best way to go around battling battery charges is seeking legal representation from an attorney who is experienced in California criminal law. The following are some defenses for a possible reduction of the penalties that accompany a conviction for the battery:
Your Actions Were Geared to Self Defense or Defense of Others
Sometimes a person’s actions may pose a threat to you or other people. In this case, you are forced to react in a way that is inappropriate or harmful to that person. If you acted in self-defense or defense of others, you could use this as a defense in your battery criminal case. It is essential to understand that no matter how hurtful words are, they cannot be a basis to justify battery. You can only claim self-defense if the other person posed a physical danger to you or other people. However, self-defense or the defense of other people will apply as a defense in a battery case if the following elements are correct:
- You had a valid reason to believe that you or another person was in danger of suffering some bodily injury or inappropriate touching
- You reasonably thought that it was necessary to use the amount of force you did, to protect yourself or other people from harm
- The energy you used for self-defense or defense of others was reasonable and necessary in a particular situation
Defense of Property
If you are facing battery charges, you may claim that you acted in defense of your property. If the victim tried to enter your property by force or tried to withhold an item that belonged to you, you may use the necessary energy to protect your property. However, if the property you tried to protect was in dispute, you cannot use this as a defense in your case. This is because you are not allowed to use force towards the victim.
If someone consented to an act that causes them injury, they could not use that particular act to assert or constitute a battery. However, the extent of force applied to the action should not exceed the one consented. If the power exceeds the one approved, this can still be used against you in a battery case. With the help of a competent criminal attorney, you can successfully prove that the victim consented to the touching or forced you used towards them.
Parent’s Right to Discipline their Child
You may be charged with battery for a simple act of attempting to discipline your child. You can defend yourself in a battery case by showing that you acted within your rights to discipline the child. As a parent, you are allowed by law to use physical force to discipline your child as long as the energy is reasonable and is not excessive under specific circumstances. For this defense to be successful, you must have used a reasonable force towards the child.
You did not act Willfully
To be convicted under Penal Code 242 of California, the prosecutor must prove that you acted willingly to act in a way that results in a battery. Even though an intent to harm the victim is not necessary for assault, you must have purposely committed the offense. With the help of your attorney, you may be able to argue that you touched the victim by accident successfully, and thus, you are not guilty of battery.
Simple Battery Related Offenses
There are many forms in which a battery can occur depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense and the victim of battery. The following are offenses closely related to California Penal Code 242.
- Battery Causing Severe Bodily Injury (Aggravated Battery)
Under California Penal Code 243, you will be convicted of aggravated battery if you cause severe bodily injury to the victim. For the purpose of this offense, serious bodily injury is any type of physical impairment such as broken bones or even amputations. To be convicted of this offense, the prosecutor must show that the victim suffered a severe bodily injury. However, whether an injury is considered to be severe is a decision made by the jury depending on the circumstances of your case.
In California, Penal Code 243 is a wobbler, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. When charged as a misdemeanor, aggravated battery carries up to a one-year jail sentence, fines of up to $1000 ad informal probation. On the other hand, a felony aggravated battery will see you face up to four years sentence in state prison, felony probation, and fines not exceeding $10,000. A conviction for a felony aggravated battery will cause you to lose the right of owning or purchasing firearms.
- Sexual Battery
Under Penal Code 243, sexual battery is an act of touching the private parts of another person against their will for arousal or sexual gratification. To be convicted of sexual battery, you do not need to engage in sexual intercourse with the victim. You can also be charged with battery even when you were in a relationship with the victim.
You commit aggravated sexual assault for indecently touching or having sexual contact with a person who is illegally restrained, medically incapacitated, or is unaware of the act. Penal Code 243 of California is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor offense carries six months to a one-year jail sentence. Also, you may be required to pay fines of up to $2,000. A felony conviction will subject you to a maximum of four years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Moreover, a sexual battery conviction requires you to register as a sex offender.
- Domestic Battery (Penal Code 243(e) (1)
Domestic battery is unlawful and wilful touching that is committed against your current or former spouse or cohabitant. Also, a person you are engaged to marry or a family member can accuse you of battery. You can still be convicted of domestic battery even when your actions did not injure someone. Under California Penal Code 243(e) (1), domestic battery is charged as a misdemeanor whose potential penalties include up to $2,000 fines and up to a one-year jail sentence. Also, you may be required to complete 52 weeks of domestic violence class.
- Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is willful or negligently imposing physical or mental suffering to an individual who is aged 65 years or older. If you are convicted of battery against a person who falls under the elder category, you will face both battery and elder abuse charges. Elder abuse can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on your criminal history and the extent of the injury suffered.
When prosecuted as a felony, elder abuse may see you spend two to four years in state prison while a misdemeanor offense carries up to a one-year jail sentence or a $1,000 fine. The penalties for elder abuse will be added to the penalties you face for a simple battery. If you are facing battery charges where the victim is an elder, it is wise to seek legal representation. Your attorney may seek to reduce the charges you are facing.
Fight Battery Charges with Legal Help Near Me
The penalties for a battery conviction are severe, primarily if the act resulted in severe bodily injury. However, many battery charges arise out of overreaction or misunderstandings, and there are available defenses that could possibly help lessen the penalties for this offense. If you or your loved one is facing battery charges, consider seeking legal representation. Darwish Law is a group of experienced defense attorneys that are ready to take up your case. If you are in Santa Ana, please call us at 714-887-4810 to get help