Most people think battery and imagine one of two scenarios, physical force being exerted or assaulting someone. Although the terms assault and battery are commonly used in conjunction with one another, they are actually two separate and distinct charges under California law. Battery requires the physical contact with the victim. You could be looking at battery charges as long as there is a victim that accuses you of touching them in an offensive manner. Even if your intent was not to offend that individual, the reality is that battery cases depend on how the victim perceives the circumstances that led to the physical contact. The prosecution will have a hard time building the case against you without the victim's cooperation, they must be able to solidify the victim's statements in order to proceed with the charges.
Battery in San Diego
This offense occurs under California Penal Code section 242 when the intentional harmful or offensive touching of another person occurs without their consent.
Intending to perform the motion that caused the battery.
Harmful or Offensive:
The touching of another person in a violent, rude, aggressive, angry, or disrespectful manner.
The slightest contact, touching or use of force. Physical contact can be indirect by causing an object or another person to touch the person.
The person’s body, clothing or something attached to their person.
The person did not consent to the touching.
Defendant Did Not Act in Self-Defense:
The prosecution has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not act in self-defense.
Understanding Penal Code Section 242
In consideration of the seriousness of battery, California has criminalized it under Penal Code section 242. Under this law, “Any person who willfully makes an unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another is guilty of battery and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”
Basically, to convict someone of PC 242, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements:
- The defendant intended to make physical contact with the person of another;
- The touching was harmful or offensive;
- The person did not consent to the touching;
- The defendant was not acting in self-defense.
Battery is a General Intent Crime
General intent is the intent to commit an act that is prohibited by law. For general intent crimes, the defendant’s intent to cause the result is irrelevant. The only intent that the prosecutor is required to prove for a conviction is that the defendant intended to do the act. Battery is considered a general intent crime. This means that to be guilty of battery, a defendant does not need to have intended to touch another person in a harmful or offensive manner. The only requirement is that the defendant intended to perform the motion that resulted in a battery.
Battery Can Be Filed As a Misdemeanor or a Felony
A willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another is a wobbler. Wobbler offenses are crimes that the prosecution has discretion to charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This decision is important to your defense because it will determine the penalties that you could face if convicted under PC 242.
To determine the severity of the charges for battery, prosecutors look at two things in particular:
- The identity victim.
Whether the person’s occupation designates special protection by the law when performing his or her work.
- The amount and type of force applied.
Whether the force was proportionate to fight off the attack.
Penalties For Battery Charges
In California when an offense of Battery is charged as a MISDEMEANOR and you are found guilty under PC 242, you may:
- Receive a fine of up to $2,000;
- Be sentenced up to 6 months in the county jail;
- Informal probation;
- Be required to complete a Batterer’s class
- Be required to do community service
In California when an offense of Battery is charged as a FELONY and you are found guilty under PC 242, you may:
- Receive a fine up to $2,000;
- Be sentenced up to 16 months or 2 or 3 years in state prison;
- Formal probation
Enhancements for Battery Charges
An enhancement offense is an offense whose commission alone increases the penalties for the simple offense. In California a battery against a special victim in a protected class is subject to sentence enhancement. This means the court is allowed to add extra time to the sentence for the underlying crime.
Under California Penal Code 242, the penalties you face will be increased if you knowingly commit an assault against a person in a protected class:
- police officer
- public safety officer or firefighter
- health care provider
- prison guard
- government official
- elderly person
A battery against one of these protected victims carries more severe penalties than simple assault against any other victim.
Because of the severity of the penalties involved with battery charges, your criminal defense attorney will have to determine which legal defense theory will work best in your particular situation. Here is a list of the most common defenses for Battery:
- It was an accident, you did not intend to make physical contact with the person.
- Consent, the person either agreed to the physical contact or engaged in an inherently dangerous activity where there is a widespread acceptance of the risk of battery.
- You were falsely accused of committing the battery.
- The alleged victim was off duty when the battery occurred.
- You were acting in self-defense or were protecting another person.
In order to have a valid self-defense claim you must have acted under the reasonable presumption that you or the person you were protecting were facing imminent threat of harm. Self-defense overcomes whatever the attacker's intent was at the time of the attack, the only thing that matters is how you perceived the situation. If you were in fear for your life or the life of another and this fear was reasonable under the circumstances then you should contact Monder Law Group. Our flight or fight experts will be able to describe the physiological responses that caused your body to involuntarily react when you were threatened or attacked.
If you have been charged with battery in San Diego and you think the evidence against you is week and does not amount to the PC 242 charges, then the best approach would be to start preparing for trial early in your case. This means contact experienced criminal defense attorney Vik Monder now at 619-405-0063. If you were falsely accused or witnesses are exaggerating, then we will use the police report to find the inconsistencies and cross the witnesses on their statements. If you were not the first aggressor then we will use the police report to go over the pictures of the injuries to strengthen your self-defense claim. There are many strategies for different situations the key to a successful outcome in a battery case is to take control of your case early on!