There are many different types of battery offenses that you may be charged with in California. It is important to consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney because some offenses carry much more severe punishments than others. There are two major categories of battery – those that involve injuries and those that do not.
You can be found guilty of a battery if you willfully touched someone else in a “harmful or offensive manner.” In other words, you touched someone in a way they did not like or in a way that is considered rude or angry. This includes touching someone directly or touching someone with an object. The prosecution does not need to prove that the contact resulted in any pain, injuries or marks to the victim. You can be found guilty as long as you touched the other person on purpose and it does not matter whether you knew it was against the law to do so. The maximum punishment for simple battery is a fine of $2,000 and 6 months in the county jail. Simple battery is charged as a misdemeanor. Often, your attorney can help you to avoid jail time in these types of cases.
Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury
If you are charged with a battery resulting in serious bodily injury, in addition to proving that you committed a simple battery, as described above, the prosecution must prove that the contact resulted in serious bodily injury to the other person. Serious bodily injury is defined as “a serious impairment of physical condition.” Some examples of serious bodily injury include: loss of consciousness, a bone fracture, or a wound requiring stitches. It is extremely important that you talk to a criminal defense attorney about this type of charge because you could be facing more serious consequences, including the possibility of being convicted of a “strike” offense under California’s Three Strikes Law. A battery resulting in serious bodily injury may also be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Battery Against Specific Groups of People
The punishment for a battery that results in injury to a member of a specific group of people is more severe than for a simple battery. This only applies to specific groups of people, such as firefighters, medical professionals, and traffic officers, for example. In these cases, an injury is defined as any physical injury requiring medical attention, however, something may be considered an injury even if the victim did not seek medical attention. It is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney to determine if your case may fall into this category because a battery against specific groups of people can be charged either a misdemeanor or a felony, and you could potentially be sentenced to state prison.
You may face more serious consequences if you are charged with battery against the following groups of people:
- Police officers
- Emergency medical technicians
- Custodial officers
- Traffic officers
- Animal control officers
- U.S. military personnel
- Bus drivers or taxi cab drivers
- Passenger on public transportation
- School employees
Battery offenses against these groups of people carry higher maximum punishments than simple battery. As misdemeanors, most are punishable by up to one year in the county jail and a $2,000 fine. Some of these offenses carry higher maximum fines. Many of these charges can be filed as felonies, meaning that you could be facing state prison time. Your attorney will be able to help you determine whether the alleged victim in your case falls into one of these categories, and what potential consequences you may be facing.
Defenses to a Battery Charge
Self defense or defense of others – If the evidence indicates that you may have been acting in self defense, or defending someone else, the prosecution will also have to prove that you were not acting in self defense or in the defense of someone else.
Reasonable discipline of a child – If the evidence shows that you were disciplining a child, the government will have to prove that you were not disciplining the child in a reasonable or appropriate way.
Battery charges involving specific people or locations – Some battery charges are based on the identity of the alleged victim. Battery against a police officer, for example, is a specific crime. Other battery charges require that the incident occurred in a specific place. For instance, a battery that occurs at a school, park, or hospital is a unique offense. To secure a conviction in these types of cases, the prosecution will have to prove the identity of the alleged victim or the location of the alleged incident depending on the type of battery charge.
If you or a loved one is charged with committing a battery offense, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. For a free and confidential consultation, call Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 or get in touch via the secure contact form on this page. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.