Under California law, the simple battery comprises of intentional and unlawful use of force or violence on another person. When most people hear about battery, they form images of severe beatings in their minds. However, you can face charges for California simple battery, even if you did not cause the victim any pain. The California Penal Code 242 outlines the crime of simple battery. According to this statute, you can be busy with a simple battery as long as you touched the victim in an offensive manner. Even if the victim did not experience any discomfort and even if the touch was just slight, you might still face charges. Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm assists people facing simple battery charges in California and surrounding areas.
Overview of Simple Battery
It is common for people to use the terms assault and battery interchangeably. However, under California law, the crime of battery and the crime of assault are very distinct. According to the California Penal Code 240, assault entails attempting using force or violence on another person. However, the crime of battery is the actual application of force or violence on another person.
The crime of assault does not necessarily involve any form of contact between the defendant and the victim. However, in a crime of battery, there must be physical contact between the victim and the defendant. Most people like to put it this way; a battery is a completed assault while an assault is an attempted battery.
You may be guilty of a battery without even realizing it. For instance, you may be queuing in a grocery store when suddenly another customer cuts in front of you, you get agitated and push the person aside. The person may accuse you of battery for touching him/her in an offensive manner. If you throw an object at another person out of irritation and the item hits him or her, you may be guilty of simple battery.
What does the prosecutor have to prove for you to face simple battery charges? The prosecutor has to prove that you touched another person purposely or willfully. He/she will also have to prove that the touch was offensive or harmful. If the prosecutor cannot prove all these elements, you cannot face charges for simple battery under California Penal Code 242 PC.
Touching another Person
Even the slightest touching can qualify as a battery because the crime of battery requires you to make contact with another person. The crime does not require you to cause discomfort or injury to another person for you to face charges. Even spitting may qualify as a battery. For instance, you get into an argument with your daughter's teacher while discussing the progress of your daughter in school. In anger, you spit on the face of the teacher. The teacher might accuse you of battery even if only your saliva that landed on him or her.
It is important to note that you may be guilty of battery even if you touch another person through his/her clothes. You may also face charges even if you do not touch the victim directly, but instead, you use an object like a stick to touch him or her. For example, you may be out partying with friends, and you use a marker to write on another person's back without their knowledge. The victim may accuse of violence for touching him or her in an offensive manner using a marker.
You may also face battery charges if you touch an item that is intimately connected to another person in an offensive manner. You may face charges despite the fact that the object you touch offensively is not part of the other person's body. A good example would be if you find a person holding an object, and you knock the object of their hands.
For you to face simple battery charges, it must be evident that you acted on purpose or willfully. For instance, it must be evident that you intended to touch the other person in an offensive manner. Acting on purpose does not imply that you intended to break the law or that you intended to hurt the other person. It does not also imply that you intended to gain any advantage by touching another person in an offensive manner. It only means that you were aware of your actions and that you acted on purpose. It means that you were aware that you were touching another person in an offensive or harmful manner. For example, you may be arguing with your friend while you suddenly pick a stapler and throw it at him. The stapler hits your friend on the forehead. You did not intend to harm your friend by throwing the stapler at him. However, you intended to throw the stapler despite knowing the risks it may pose to your friend. If your friend accuses you of battery, you may face charges under California Penal Code 242 PC.
An Offensive or Harmful Touch
For your touch to qualify as battery, you must do it in a harmful or offensive manner. This means that you would have to touch another person in an angry, violent, disrespectful, or rude manner to face simple battery charges. You may be going about your business in the streets when you suddenly bump into Kevin, your high school classmate that you disliked. You are surprised when your classmate walks over to you and gives you a hug. The hug from your former classmate may not be welcome because of your hatred towards him. However, you cannot accuse Kevin of battery because the touch was not harmful or offensive.
Consequences for California Penal Code 242 PC-Simple Battery
Under the California Penal Code 242 PC, the crime of simple battery is a misdemeanor offense. This is as long as the battery crime does not inflict injuries on the victim. This is also as long as you do not commit the crime of battery against a peace officer or against any other protected person. What are the penalties for a misdemeanor crime of simple battery? The charges include informal summary probation. The court may also recommend jail time of up to six months in a California County jail. The court may also require you to pay a penalty that does not exceed $2,000.
How Can You Fight Simple Battery Charges in California?
To fight simple battery charges in California, you would need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The right attorney should have an appropriate understanding of California battery law. Some of the common legal defenses to battery charges that your attorney can employ include:
You Did Not Act Intentionally or Willfully
One of the elements of the crime of simple battery is acting willfully. It must be evident that you acted on purpose and that you were aware of your actions. Therefore, if your actions were not intentional, you can use this fact to fight battery charges. For instance, you may assert that the offensive touch of another person was purely accidental. An accident is a common legal defense for battery charges, as it indicates that you did not mean to do what you did. For example, you may be squeezing your way through a crowd while you accidentally shove another person out of the way. The person may accuse you of battery. However, you can assert that your action was accidental and unintentional. You were merely trying to find your way through a crowded place. In addition, you may hit another person with an object that you are carrying without your knowledge. If the person accuses you of battery, you may assert that you were not even aware that the object you were carrying touched them. Therefore, you did not intend to touch them.
You Have Parental Right to Discipline a Child
It is common for children to bring battery charges against their parents. It is also common for other people like neighbors or child protection officers to accuse parents of battery against children. A parent may face battery against their children charges alongside child abuse charges as outlined under California Penal Code 273 (d).
However, in most battery cases involving parents and their children, parents may be merely instilling discipline in their children. If you are facing charges for battery against your child, you can assert that you are disciplining the child. As a parent, you have the right to discipline your child as long as you do not use excessive force on the child. Therefore, if you can prove in court that you were within your limits of disciplining the child, you cannot face charges. However, to use this defense strategy, it must be evident that the act of disciplining the child was reasonable under the circumstances. It must also be apparent that you did not use more force than was necessary to discipline the child.
The crime of simple battery does not require the victim to have any symptoms of harm. A victim may accuse you of simple battery even when you are innocent. There are several reasons why a person may make a false accusation against you. The common reasons include anger, jealousy, or revenge. For example, after a divorce, your spouse may falsely accuse you of divorce to seek revenge against you. Partners may also accuse each other of battery in order to get a favorable outcome in child custody battles or divorce proceedings.
Self-Defense of Defense of another Person
You may use the legal defense of self-defense or defense of another person to fight simple battery charges. You can assert that you were only shielding yourself from danger or protecting another person from harm. To use this defense strategy, it must be evident that you or another person was in danger of encountering an unlawful touch or undergoing significant bodily injury. It must also be evident that you had a belief that by using force, you would prevent the danger from happening. You have to prove in court that you did not use more force than was necessary to prevent the danger from happening.
If you are able to prove the three elements of self-defense in court, the judge may suspend your battery charges. It is important to note that for you to assert that you acted in self-defense; you or another person must have been exposed to danger. Words alone cannot justify battery. Therefore, it must be evident that the victim posed a risk of physical harm or unlawful touch. You cannot claim that the victim used harsh words against you, making you commit a battery crime. No matter how harsh a person's words may be, they cannot justify battery.
Under California law, several offenses are almost the same as the offense of simple battery. You may face charges for these offenses alongside simple battery charges or instead of simple battery charges. Some of the related offenses include:
The California Penal Code 243(e) (1) PC defines the crime of domestic battery. Domestic battery is battery against a person with whom you have an intimate relationship. It may also constitute of battery against a person with whom you have had an intimate relationship in the past.
You can commit domestic battery against your current spouse or a former spouse. Domestic battery could also be against your current or your former cohabitant. You may be guilty of committing domestic violence against your current or former fiancée. Any form of battery against a person with whom you shared a romantic or dating relationship may qualify as a domestic battery. A domestic battery also consists of any offensive touch against the father or the mother of your child.
If you commit the crime of domestic battery, you will face misdemeanor charges under California law. The court may require you to pay a fine that does not exceed $2,000. The court may also recommend a jail time that does not exceed one year in county jail. Instead of jail time, the court may recommend probation for a crime of domestic battery. As a condition of probation, you may have to enroll in a batterer's treatment program for a minimum period of one year.
Battery on a Peace Officer
If you commit battery against various classes of protected persons, you may be guilty under Penal Code sections 243(b) and 243(c)(2). Who is a peace officer or a protected person? Protected persons may include custodial officers, police or other law enforcement officers, firefighter, custody assistant, process server, and emergency medical technician. Protected persons may also include medical practitioners like nurses and doctors who are in the course of performing their duties. Other protected persons include code enforcement officers, employees of the probation department, and animal control officers. To be guilty of battery against a peace officer, it must be evident that at the time of committing battery, you knew about the status of the victim as a peace officer. It must also be apparent that you carried out the battery when the peace officer was in the course of performing his duties.
If the battery against a peace officer does not involve injury, the applicable consequences include serving jail time of up to one year in county jail. If the battery against a peace officer involved an injury, you would face enhanced charges. Battery on a peace officer involving an injury is a wobbler offense under California law. You may serve jail time of sixteen months, two years, or three years.
Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury
You may be guilty under California Penal Code 242(d) PC if you commit a battery and inflict serious physical harm on the victim. A battery causing serious injury also goes by the name -aggravated battery. What constitutes a severe bodily injury? A serious bodily injury is any injury that leads to impairment of a physical condition. For instance, a significant bodily injury may comprise of concussion or broken bones. Under California law, a crime under the Penal Code 242(d) PC is a wobbler offense. You may face misdemeanor or felony charges for this offense. The maximum jail time for a misdemeanor offense is up to one year in county jail. For a felony battery causing bodily injury, you will face extended imprisonment. You may serve an imprisonment of two, three, or four years.
Under the California Penal Code Penal Code 243.4, you may be guilty of sexual battery if you touch the intimate part of another person without his or her consent. Usually, the touch is meant for sexual gratification, abuse, or arousal. Under California law, the crime of sexual battery may be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the facts surrounding the case. For instance, if at the time of executing the offense, the victim was institutionalized or restrained, the defendant may face felony charges.
For misdemeanor sexual battery, the defendant may serve jail time ranging from six months to one year. Other penalties may include informal misdemeanor probation. The court may also require the defendant to pay a fine. For an offense of misdemeanor sexual battery or felony sexual battery, you would have to face California's sex offender registration. F or felony sexual battery charges, you may face imprisonment for two, three, or four years.
If you commit battery against an older person who exceeds the age of 65 years, you may either face charges under Penal Code 242 PC or under Penal Code 368 PC. The California Penal Code 368 PC outlines the crime of elder abuse. Elder abuse entails intentionally and negligently imposing unjustifiable/great pain or mental anguish to an individual who is above the age of 65 years.
Battery against an elderly person is a wobbler offense that may attract misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the facts surrounding the offense. If you face felony charges, you may pay a fine of up to $6,000. You may also have to serve jail time of two, three, or four years.
Strict laws protect elderly and dependent persons in California. The elderly and dependent individuals have no voice of their own and may not be able to stand up to a battery. Elderly people may suffer battery from their relatives, caregivers, and elderly homes. Any form of battery against an elderly person attracts hefty penalties.
California Civil Lawsuits for Battery
It is common for victims of battery in California to sue the defendants for damages suffered due to the battery. Especially in a battery, causing bodily injury, a victim may suffer losses. Victims often seek compensation for lost wages and medical bills in case of injuries. You may be "not guilty" in a court trial but still, have to pay for damages and losses the victim suffers.
Unlike criminal crimes, civil crimes are easy to prove because they do not need any proof beyond a reasonable doubt. All that needs to be evident is that more likely than not; the defendant committed the crime of battery against the victim. This standard of proof is much lower than that needed while proving a criminal case.
What does the victim have to prove in a civil lawsuit for a battery? The victim has to prove that the defendant touched him/her in an offensive manner, and the defendant had the intention of harming or offending the defendant. It must also be evident that the victim did not consent to the touching. The victim also has to prove that he/she was offended by the conduct of the defendant. The victim also has to assert that if a reasonable person had been in the shoes of the victim, he/she would feel offended by the conduct of the defendant.
Contact an Orange County Criminal Lawyer Near Me
If you are currently facing simple battery charges in California, the consequences may be detrimental. If not well represented by an attorney, you may spend considerable time in jail. You do not have to worry; Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm can assist. Our attorneys understand California battery law. Contact us at 714-740-7848 and speak to one of our attorneys today.
Here are some criminal defense law firms if you are being charged in Los Angeles: Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer