Physical battery is a serious offense with potential life-changing repercussions for the accused. What constitutes battery under California law may be confusing, and it is crucial to understand how the law is applied, the penalties you may face if convicted, and the defenses available if charged.
Battery Defined Under California Law
Under California Penal Code Section 242, physical battery is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. It does not necessarily mean that injury must occur, but it could be any form of unwanted or otherwise offensive touching of another person. This scenario in and of itself may constitute a battery situation, and the offending individual may face charges for these actions.
If the prosecution seeks to convict someone of this crime, they must prove the accused deliberately used force or violence upon another person, regardless of pain or injury. Any unwanted touching is generally sufficient (sexual battery, etc.).
Merely jabbing someone in the shoulder with an angry finger or spitting on someone, so long as it offends the target, may be grounds for battery charges. Indeed, the offense stems from the perception of the victim rather than the accused, regardless of any tangible physical harm.
There are various iterations of battery charges, including domestic violence battery, which often involves an unwanted touching of a spouse, family members, intimate partner, or co-habitant.
As stated under California Penal Code Section 243(a), misdemeanor battery is punishable by a fine of no more than $2,000, imprisonment in a county jail for no more than six months, or both. Also, Section 243(c) states that if an injury does happen against the battered victim, penalties could substantially increase.
Enhanced charges are also possible under California Penal Code Section 243(b). When a battery occurs against a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency personnel, the defendant may receive one year of jail. Also, in a case involving injury and enhancement to a felony, the defendant may face up to 16 months in jail, two to three years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
In cases where severe bodily injury occurs, Section 243(d) makes it clear that it’s possible to charge the battery as a misdemeanor or a felony. If a misdemeanor, this could mean up to one year in a county jail, while a felony brings a potential prison sentence of two, three, or four years in a state prison. A felony in California also falls under the Three Strikes law, meaning that if this is the defendant’s third strike conviction, they may face 25 years to life in prison.
If the defendant is convicted but placed on probation instead of jail time, it may last no longer than three years. It is also possible the court will sentence the defendant to pay up to $5,000 to a battered women’s shelter and remunerate the victim for counseling and other expenses that resulted from the crime.
California law states that misdemeanor battery convictions may carry a firearms prohibition for ten years, and California Penal Code Section 12021(a)(1), regarding felony battery, extends this prohibition for life. Federal law requires a lifelong restriction, whether charged for misdemeanor or felony battery.
In cases where physical violence charges reach the level of battery, it is critical to retain an experienced Santa Barbara criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Any level of misdemeanor or felony battery conviction may stigmatize you for life, creating negative impacts in areas of your career, reputation, and even family life. The legal penalties are also harsh and could put you in jail for several years if you do not have aggressive representation on hand to protect your rights and best interests at trial.
The Aron Law Firm has decades of experience and familiarity with Santa Barbara court procedures in battery cases. Mr. Aron previously served as a California Deputy District Attorney and has working experience on how the criminal justice system works. This firsthand knowledge provides his clients with the best possible understanding and defense strategies in these types of high-stakes cases.
Contact our office today at (805) 500-0759 or online to schedule a confidential case evaluation right away. Our knowledgeable legal team is standing by to advise you on the next best steps to get through this difficult time in your life. It is what we do now – together, that may make all the difference.