Battery is a rather common criminal offense in California, involving any intentional and unlawful physical contact or use of force or violence on another person, including hitting, grabbing or simply touching the other person in a harmful or offensive manner. California law makes it a crime to touch another person without his or her consent, and because of these strict assault and battery laws, far too many people find themselves facing criminal battery charges because of a simple misunderstanding. If you have been arrested on charges of battery in Los Angeles, don’t leave your future up to the whims of the court. Contact our knowledgeable battery defense lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to discuss the best legal strategy for your case.
Affordable Battery Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
The state of California is tough on violent crime, and under California law, simply touching another person in a way that is considered harmful or offensive can carry serious criminal consequences, even if the other person does not suffer any pain or injury. If you have been charged with battery in Los Angeles, it is imperative that you consult an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and the best defense strategy for your case. You can be sure that the prosecutor in your case will aggressively pursue criminal charges against you, and without a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side, you could end up paying considerable fines and serving months or even years in jail, among other severe penalties. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for a free initial consultation.
Generally speaking, battery is a criminal offense involving any intentional and unlawful physical contact inflicted on another person. If, for example, a man tries to hit on a woman in a bar and as she turns to walk away, the man grabs her lightly by the wrist, the man may be charged with simple battery because his actions constitute unwanted and offensive physical contact, even though the contact didn’t cause the woman any injury. A person can even be prosecuted for battery if they commit an act of physical contact on something closely connected to another person, such as an object in that person’s possession. For example, if a man grabs another man’s necktie in a rude or angry manner, the man doing the grabbing could be charged with simple battery because of the close connection between the necktie and the person, even though the person was never actually touched.
Another type of battery in California is aggravated battery, which occurs when the victim of a battery suffers great bodily harm, or any serious impairment of physical condition. If, for example, two men get into an altercation outside of a football game and one man pushes the other to the ground, causing him to get a concussion, the man who did the pushing could be charged with aggravated battery. Although battery is often charged in connection with the offense of assault under California Penal Code § 240 PC, assault and battery are two separate crimes with their own individual elements and associated penalties. Some other related criminal offenses in Los Angeles include domestic battery (Penal Code § 243(e)(1) PC), sexual battery (Penal Code § 243.4 PC), battery on a peace officer (Penal Code § 243(b) PC and § 243(c)(2) PC), and child abuse (Penal Code § 273(d) PC).
Conviction for Battery Penal Code § 242 PC
Under California Penal Code § 242 PC, battery is defined as “the willful or unlawful use of force or violence” against another person, and the prosecutor handling your case will be tasked with proving each element of the offense in order to get a conviction. To be convicted on charges of battery in California, the prosecution must establish the following:
- That you touched another person in an offensive or harmful manner;
- That you acted willfully and intentionally; and
- That you did not act in self-defense or in defense of another person, or while reasonably disciplining a child.
With regard to the crime of battery, the term “willful” does not mean that you intended to harm the other person, only that you intended to act in such a way that caused the other person to be touched. If the prosecution is unable to prove that you acted intentionally, you cannot be found guilty of the crime of battery.
How is Battery Different from Assault?
We often hear the phrase “assault and battery” seemingly levied as one charge, which gives the impression that the terms “assault” and “battery” can be used interchangeably, when they are actually two very distinct offenses. While battery is the act of using force or violence against another person, assault is the behavior that leads up to a battery, or the attempt to use force or violence against another person. Battery requires actual physical contact, injury or harm; assault does not. For an assault charge to be filed, the defendant need only intentionally threaten to hit or otherwise harm another person and have the present ability to carry out the threat, regardless of whether or not the alleged “victim” is injured by the behavior. Because of this distinction, some people choose to think of assault as an “attempted battery,” and battery as a “completed assault.” While an assault can occur without a battery, a battery cannot occur without an assault.
Penalties for a Battery Conviction
The state of California imposes harsh penalties on offenders convicted of violent crimes like assault, battery and aggravated battery, and these penalties can carry significant consequences that affect the offender’s life long after the punishment is served. Under California Penal Code § 242 PC, simple battery is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to $2,000 in fines and/or up to six months in county jail, possibly accompanied by probation, community service requirements, and anger management or other forms of counseling. The penalties for a battery conviction are the same even if the alleged victim does not suffer any injury or harm.
However, if the battery results in serious bodily injury to the victim, the defendant could be charged with aggravated battery, a crime that carries a much harsher penalty. Under California Penal Code § 243(d) PC, aggravated battery is a “wobbler” offense, which means it can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. As a felony, aggravated battery is punishable by up to four years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The state of California also implements the “Three Strikes” law, which significantly increases the prison sentences of individuals convicted of a felony who have been convicted of two or more violent crimes or serious felony offenses in the past. This law increases the chances of repeat offenders being forced to serve a mandatory life sentence in prison.
Defenses to Battery Charges
Battery laws in California cover a broad range of actions and the slightest touch can be enough to satisfy the battery statute in California if it is carried out in a harmful or offensive way. However, there are certain circumstances in which a person is permitted to use force against another person, and it is important to be aware of these circumstances when developing your defense strategy. The following are some battery defenses you may be able to use in your case:
- You were acting in self-defense or in defense of another person
- Your actions were not harmful or offensive
- Your actions were unintentional, meaning the act was an accident
- You were falsely accused
- You were using reasonable force to discipline your child
One of the most important elements of a battery case is the requirement that the defendant’s actions were willful and intentional. For example, if you pick up a bottle in a bar and throw it out of anger, you could be charged with battery if the bottle hits another person. It is not enough for you to claim that you did not intend to hit the other person with the bottle; because you purposefully picked up the bottle and threw it, the action is considered willful and intentional and you could be prosecuted for battery. It is not considered battery if you accidentally bump into someone in a crowded room or touch someone’s arm to get their attention.
Hiring an Experienced Battery Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Battery is considered a violent crime in California and having a battery conviction on your criminal record can negatively impact nearly every aspect of your life, including your ability to find housing, obtain employment or even have custody of your children. For many people, the term “battery” invokes images of brutal beatings, but the truth is, you can be convicted of battery under California Penal Code § 242 PC even if you didn’t cause the alleged victim any injury or pain of any kind. Needless to say, the criminal justice system in California can be complicated and unpredictable, and it’s not enough to have faith that you’ll get off without a conviction simply because you believe you’re innocent of the crime. If you have been charged with simple battery or aggravated battery in Los Angeles, it is imperative that you exercise your right to secure legal counsel. At Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles, our legal team has years of experience defending clients in battery and aggravated battery cases and we will work tirelessly to help you obtain a favorable outcome in your criminal case.