Disputes can occur anywhere. You might argue with your spouse at home or friends at the bar. If the disagreement turns into a fight, a person might end up getting wounded, which might lead to battery charges. Any crime against a person in California is taken very seriously. If convicted, the consequences might impact the rest of your life adversely. That is the reason you should contact the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, whenever you are facing the charge of aggravated battery. We will take you through the meaning of battery with serious bodily injury, the evidence the prosecutor needs to prove, the penalties for the crime, legal defenses, and other related offenses to help you understand the kind of charge you or a loved one is facing.
Definition of Battery with Serious Bodily Injury
As per California PC 242, non-consensual or offensive touching is prohibited. It means touching anybody without their consent is deemed as a battery. When this offensive or non-consensual touching results in serious bodily injury, you are charged with aggravated battery. The offense is codified under PC 243 (d). Simple and aggravated battery are distinct on the degree of the wounds inflicted. So, a person is guilty under PC 243 (d) if they touch another person offensively, inflicting severe bodily injuries.
Facts that must be Proved in Aggravated Battery
To be convicted of this crime, certain elements must be valid and which the prosecutor must prove. Some of the factors include:
You Touched Another Person
In the definition of PC 243 (d), you are only required to touch or make physical contact with the victim or even their cloth. Touching a person even with an extension of yourself in the slightest manner by using a finger or an object attached to you is a crime.
The Touch was Intentional or Willful
Under PC 243 (d), the touch needs to be intentional. If you made contact on purpose without intending to injure the person or to break the law, you are still guilty of the crime. All the prosecution needs to put you behind bars is to show that you intended to touch the person offensively, and however slight it was, it caused severe bodily harm to the victim. In proving the touch was willful, the prosecution can have the victim or a third party witness described. If the defendant made a hard push, punched the victim, or shoved them using a firearm, knife, or any other object in a threatening manner, then that is enough to prove the touch was intentional. Also, if the defendant made eye contact with the victim before the touch, then it will be deemed intentional.
Harmful or Offensive Manner
A touch is deemed aggressive if it is done rudely or offensively. A subversive touch involves a punch or a hard push. An offensive touch, on the other hand, is annoying and is done bluntly, angrily, violently, and disrespectfully. When proving this element, the prosecution can use a witness to describe the manner of the touch. If you were angry and shouting before the contact that caused injuries, then you will be guilty of aggravated battery. If the touch wasn’t rude or disrespectful in any manner, but it caused injuries, you aren’t guilty.
Serious Bodily Injury
Serious bodily injury is an injury that causes severe impairment of a physical condition. Grave bodily injuries include but are not limited to:
- Serious disfigurement
- A wound requiring extensive stitches
- Fracture of a bone that prevents you from walking or using your hand
- Loss of a physical condition
The degree of the injury depends on the jury because they are the people who decide if the harm is severe or not. The victim doesn't need to seek medical attention for the injury to be considered critical. Because the decision of the jury on whether an injury is severe or not depends on the circumstances of the case, counterintuitive outcomes are common in these cases. The reason being there are incidences where a cut requiring multiple sutures will be considered not serious by the court while in others where a person has no broken bones or not lost consciousness, but the jury decides the injuries are severe. In some cases, a simple bruise can be considered as a grave injury, while in others, it will not. Therefore, it’s best if you speak to an attorney about the type of injury you have sustained.
When proving a touch caused significant injuries, the jury can rely on medical reports and medical experts to show the injury is severe as per the law.
Penalties for Violating PC 243 (d)
In an aggravated battery, the prosecution holds the discretion of charging you with a felony or misdemeanor. They consider the degree of the injuries and your previous criminal record to determine the kind of charge to bring against you. If you are found guilty of aggravated battery as a misdemeanor, the potential punishment is:
- Summary probation
- Three hundred and sixty-four days in jail
- No more than a thousand dollars fine
If convicted of the crime as a felony, the sentence includes:
- Formal probation
- Twenty four (24), thirty-six (36) or forty-eight (48) months in Orange County jail
- $10,000 fine
Note that after a conviction for felony aggravated battery, you are prohibited from owning a firearm. If you go ahead and buy or own a gun, you will be charged for violating the California Felon with Firearm statute.
Sentence Enhancement for Aggravated Battery
Significant bodily injury is a different concept from PC 243 (d). Great bodily injury (GBI) is referred to as substantial bodily harm. You will face increased or additional penalties if the jury feels that the victim sustained grave physical injury. The reason for enhanced penalties is because compared to GBI, aggravated battery is a lesser standard offense. The increased penalties include an additional thirty-six to seventy-two months in state prison to be served consecutively, not synchronously. This punishment comes on top of the penalties for a conviction under felony aggravated battery. The determination of great bodily injury is left to the jury to decide since it is a determination that is based on facts. They consider the severity of the injury, the level of pain experienced by the victim, and the extent and nature of medical care to decide. Significant bodily injury constitutes:
- Permanent paralysis
- Serious disfigurement
- Loss of hearing
- Loss of limb
- Fractured pelvis requiring surgery
- Loss of eye
- Broken nose
- Second-degree burns
- Strangulation to the extent of nearly passing out
- Gunshot wounds
- Fractured jaw
Juries can determine otherwise on the same type of injury. Hence, the reason not all the above injuries make up significant bodily injuries. It is critical also to note that a GBI constitutes a strike. Where the victim of the injuries is seventy years or more or below five years, the punishment will be enhanced. Cases of domestic violence and sex offenses lead to an additional six years sentence if you are found guilty.
Defenses for Battery with Serious Bodily Injury
Depending on your case, there are legal defenses relevant to the battery, causing bodily injuries. These common defenses include:
The stature of self-defense allows individuals to protect themselves and others when faced with a threat. You can, therefore, argue that you reacted to the claimant’s initial hostility with judicious energy to shield yourself or a different party from immediate physical danger. Self-protection is an affirmative defense, which means you must raise the issue and prove for the jury or court to believe your actions were reasonable at the moment. To prove self-defense, you can argue that:
- You had reasonable certainty that you or a different party was in grave danger of being touched harmfully or offensively
- You had reasonable certainty that the immediate application of force was essential to prevent the threat
- The force applied under the circumstances was reasonable
It is possible to be found guilty of violating PC 243 (d) even if you didn’t have plans of injuring the claimant. However, you cannot be liable if you touched the victim by accident or unwillingly. If you tripped and fell on a person when drunk and the person fractured a bone, you are innocent because the act wasn’t willful. But if you intended to punch someone and missed then knocked another person breaking their jaw, even though you didn’t mean to injure the person, the intention to hit or touch another party harmfully is transferred to the person you punched.
- The Injury wasn’t Serious
PC 243 (d) doesn’t give any actual definition of severe bodily injury. The decision is left at the discretion of the jury. Also, some of the victims of battery are bitter and might fake certain things by complaining of pain they aren’t feeling or seeking medical attention they don’t need. Your attorney has to investigate and find out the extent of the injuries.
Remember that even a fractured bone is not a severe bodily injury if it doesn’t affect the function of the body or the victim’s physical condition. If a broken bone doesn’t interfere with the victim’s mobility, ability to work, and perform other daily activities like driving, then it is not considered a grave injury. So, make sure your attorney goes through the victim's medical reports and talks to his or her physician to ensure that the symptoms of the injuries are not exaggerated. If the attorney stumbles into evidence that can prove the injury has not hindered the victim's ability to work and physical conditions, the prosecution might be easily persuaded to reduce the charges to simple battery or assault. These offenses have lesser penalties.
Offenses Related to Battery with Serious Bodily Injury
Many crimes are related to an aggravated battery because they are charged alongside or in place of. Additional or alternative crimes are relevant in cases where the prosecution believes the evidence available is enough to charge you with more than one offense. Also, in cases where the evidence against you for aggravated battery is not strong enough, they can have a backup offense to charge you with. These offenses include:
The crime is defined under PC 368. It forbids people from intentionally or negligently inflicting unreasonable pain and suffering to individuals aged sixty-five years and above. The crime is related to an aggravated battery because they are charged alongside each other. If you are charged with PC 368, you will also be charged with PC 243 (d).
California statutes prohibit persons from willfully allowing people who are dependent or senior citizens to undergo unjustifiable pain. This means that you don’t have to cause injury or pain directly. Even allowing someone else to inflict pain on an elder is considered abuse.
To be sentenced to elderly abuse, the prosecution must prove that:
- The victim in question was 65 years or higher
- You should have reasonably known at the time of abuse that the victim was 65 years or more
- You intentionally caused unjustifiable pain or mental suffering to the victim or allowed another party to do so
- Your actions could have endangered the life or health of the victim
When it comes to proving guilt where a caregiver is a defendant, the prosecutor must demonstrate that at the time of caring for the victim, you negligently or willingly caused injuries or put them in a situation that could result in injuries. If the prosecutor succeeds in proving criminal negligence, you are likely to face the following penalties:
- Up to 365 days incarceration in Orange County jail
- No more than six thousand dollars in fine for a misdemeanor charge.
For a felony charge conviction, the potential consequences are:
- Ten thousand dollars fine
- 24, 36, or 48 months incarceration
- Anger management counseling
- Formal probation
The majority of defendants in these cases are family members, which makes the situation overwhelming. If you are not careful, you might end up being convicted of the charge. Seeking help from a criminal defense attorney can help prevent a conviction. Some of the strategies you can use to contest the charges are:
- False allegations
- The injury was accidental
- Lack of evidence
If you use these defenses well, you might prevent a conviction under PC 368 and PC 243 (d) at the same time.
The Battery of a Peace Officer
California considers violent crimes against peace officers stricter, and the penalties for a conviction are harsher than in simple battery. The offense of battery of a peace officer is codified as per PC 243 (b) & (c). Individuals categorized under this statute include but not limited to:
- Traffic officer
- A law enforcement officer
- Custody assistant
- A doctor or nurse providing emergency medical care
- Animal control officer
- An employee of the probation department
To obtain a conviction, the prosecution attorney must demonstrate that you made physical contact with one of the persons listed above who was undertaking his or her duties offensively. The offense when charged as a misdemeanor, conviction penalties are:
- Twelve months in Orange County jail
- Misdemeanor probation
- No more than ten thousand dollars in fine
If the prosecuting party files the offense as a felony and you get convicted, the penalties are:
- 16, 24, or 36 months incarceration
- $10,000 in fine regardless of whether the injuries are severe or not
The penalties for battery on a peace officer are lighter than those of being convicted for battery with serious bodily injury. It means that when you are facing aggravated battery charges, you can have the prosecution to reduce the charges of a battery of a peace officer for a lesser punishment.
The defendant’s state of mind is essential when it comes to fighting charges this charge. So, you can argue that you didn’t know the victim was a peace officer because he or she was in plain clothes or failed to identify him or herself. Also, you can claim that you were in a crowded place where it was difficult to single out the victim as a law enforcer or any of the individuals described under PC 243 (b) and (c).
Other defenses you can use is arguing that the battery occurred as an accident or that you were acting in self-defense.
Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant
PC 273.5 the offense as intentionally causing bodily injuries resulting in a traumatic condition to an intimate partner. An intimate partner, in this case, refers to:
- Your current or former spouse
- Your current or former cohabitant
- The parent of your child
A traumatic condition refers to a wound or any other physical injury you caused to the victim by use of force. Remember that the bodily injuries don’t have to be serious for you to be charged with this offense.
It is common for victims of corporal injury or domestic violence and related offenses to drop charges against the defendant. However, the prosecution might still forge ahead with the case even after the victim has withdrawn the charges. The assumption by the prosecution is that the victim has been manipulated to drop the charges.
The elements the prosecution is required to prove to convict you of corporal injury on an intimate partner include:
- You intentionally and unlawfully inflicted injuries on another person
- The physical injuries led to a traumatic condition
- The injured party is a current or former intimate partner
- You were defending yourself or a different person
If the prosecutor successfully proves these elements, you are subject to the following penalties:
- 364 days incarceration in jail
- Summary probation
- No more than $6,000 fine for a misdemeanor charge conviction.
In the event you are convicted under a felony corporal injury on an intimate partner, the potential punishment is:
- Felony probation
- No more than 24, 36, or 48 months in state prison
- Dollars six thousand in fine
- Restraining or protective order for ten years
The punishment for a conviction for this offense is harsh. You can have the prosecution to reduce the charges or drop them entirely by putting up the following defenses:
- You were acting on self-defense
- It was an accident
- False accusation
To get a favorable outcome, your attorney must use these legal defenses based on the circumstances of your case.
A simple battery is charged in lieu of battery with serious bodily injury where a battery occurred but the injuries when not serious. The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by one hundred and eighty days in jail or no more than $2,000 fine. When being charged with aggravated battery, but you can prove that the injuries sustained by the victim are not severe, you can request for a plea deal to lower the charges to simple battery where penalties for a conviction are lighter through a plea bargain.
The offense is codified under PC 415. The statute prohibits unlawful fighting, the use of offensive language, and making a loud noise. Although it doesn’t seem to involve battery anywhere, it can assist you during a plea bargain. Instead of being charged with aggravated battery, you can ask the prosecution to consider charging you with disturbing peace because it is a less serious infraction.
This misdemeanor offense is codified under PC 148 (a) (1). It prohibits individuals from resisting, delaying, or preventing a police officer from making an arrest or performing their duties. If you were involved in a scuffle with the police when they were making an arrest, they could charge you with both aggravated battery and resisting arrest.
Find a Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you or someone close to you has been charged or arrested for aggravated battery or battery with serious bodily injury, we invite you to reach out to the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm at 714-740-7848. We understand the criminal justice system in California and can use certain circumstances in your case to get the prosecution to reduce or dismiss the charges. Call us today for a zero obligation consultation so that we can discuss the steps to take to get you a favorable outcome in the case.