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If you have been charged with Battery in California, you could be facing stiff fines and significant time in jail or prison. Battery can be a serious offense by itself but can be compounded when it is paired with the charge of Assault. While an assault is an attempt to harm someone else, Battery, according to Penal Code Section 242, is actually doing it.
Battery is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another person. The use of force can be subtle and the victim may not suffer any pain or injury. All that is really required is that the defendant touched the victim in an unwanted, offensive manner.
The slightest touch can be offensive. Pushing someone, spitting on someone, knocking something out of someone’s hand – all can be instances of Battery.
There are different classes of Battery including simple assault, aggravated assault, and assault causing serious bodily injury. There are also different types of Battery depending on the class of victim:
- Against protected classes of individuals including:
- Peace officer (all law enforcement),
- EMT or paramedic
- Security officer
- Animal control officer
- Domestic Battery
- Sexual Battery
- Battery against elders
Is Battery considered a violent crime?
Battery can be considered a violent crime even as a misdemeanor in situations like Domestic Battery. It can also be considered a violent crime if it is Aggravated Battery, for example, if a weapon were used or if a person were injured. Use of a deadly weapon, like a gun or large knife, could be considered a violent crime of Battery.
The charge of Aggravated Battery can be paired with Aggravated Assault to add penalties for crimes of violence.
Is Battery a felony or a misdemeanor?
Battery in California is a wobbler, meaning it can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. A simple Battery is a misdemeanor. Battery that causes great bodily injury to another can be considered a felony. Other forms such as Battery against a peace officer or other protected classes can also be considered felonies.
Another factor in classifying Battery is the frequence of crimes. A history of Battery charges (priors) can turn a misdemeanor into a felony.
What is Domestic Battery under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1)?
Domestic Battery is the crime committed against any of the following victims:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A cohabitant or former cohabitant
- A fiancée or former fiancée
- A person whom you date now or have had a dating relationship with in the past
- The mother or father of your child
Domestic Battery is considered a misdemeanor and can carry a fine of up to $2,000 and potential jail time of up to 1 year. If you are placed on probation, you will be required to enter a batterer’s treatment program for at least 1 year.
What is Sexual Battery?
Sexual Battery is covered under Penal Code 243.4 and it refers to the touching of an “intimate part” of another person for sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony in such cases as the victim was institutionalized or was unlawfully restrained.
If a misdemeanor, the penalty can be 6 months to 1 year in county jail. If a felony, the penalty can be time in the state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years.
A conviction for Sexual Battery for either a misdemeanor or a felony can also subject you to register as a sex offender.
What is Battery on Elders?
According to Penal Code 368, California’s elder abuse law, it is unlawful to negligently or intentionally inflict unjustifiable physical or mental suffering on a person 65 or older. This offense is considered a wobbler and can be either a misdemeanor or felony, but you could be charged with both Penal Codes 242 and 368.
Is Battery a Civil or Criminal Case?
Being charged with Battery in California would be a criminal charge and would be tried in a criminal court. In addition, if there were injuries or property damage that resulted in financial loss, you could also bring a civil suit against the plaintiff as well.
What are the penalties for Battery in California?
The penalties for Battery in California are different for each type of Battery, as noted above. It is a “wobbler” type of charge so the penalties are less severe if the crime is determined to be a misdemeanor and more severe if a felony. Battery against a protected class or involving serious bodily injury can increase the severity of penalties and can include additional court directives like anger management classes, treatment programs, and restraining orders.
Top Defenses to a Criminal Battery Charge
The definition of Battery in California contains three key elements:
- You touched someone
- You did it willfully
- It was done in a harmful or offensive manner
The prosecutor must prove all three elements to convict you of the crime of Battery. A Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer can challenge any one of these elements – or all three.
The lawyer can show that you acted in self-defense or you were defending someone else. Or your action could be an accident and you did not willfully commit the act. If you hugged someone to console her over some disappointment or sadness, with no intent to offend, you would probably not be guilty of Battery.
A harmful or offensive manner means you touched someone in a way that was angry, violent, rude, or disrespectful.
Should I get a lawyer for a Battery charge?
An attorney is aware of the legal definitions of Battery and the many defenses that can be used against such a charge. There are many types of Battery and many ways of touching someone that can be construed as Battery. But a lawyer who is experienced in both assault and battery cases will be able to identify which of the elements are weak in the prosecutor’s presentation.
Getting your own attorney is the best way to fight a charge of Battery in California.
Call the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys for help.
We have defended many people who were charged with Battery and we have been able to reduce or remove complaints in a significant amount of those cases. We will represent you to ensure the best possible outcome for you in any charge. But it is especially important to contact us if the situation involved Battery against a protected class of individuals or resulted in bodily injury.
Contact Attorney Daniel Perlman or Matthew Cohen today at the office of Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys, (310) 299-0062.