We all know that it’s against the law to hurt other people. But did you know that you can be charged with battery just for touching someone? Battery charges are taken very seriously in California, and depending on the circumstances, they could result in a felony conviction. And when the victim is a peace officer, you may face even harsher penalties.
For this reason, you need to call an experienced and reliable San Diego assault and domestic violence lawyer as soon as you are charged with battery. At McElfresh Law, we pride ourselves on giving our clients individual attention and aggressively defending against their criminal charges. We never lose sight of the fact that our clients’ futures depend on how well we do our job.
According to Section 242 of California’s Penal Code, a battery occurs when a person willfully touches another in a harmful or offensive manner. Simple battery is a misdemeanor, whose penalty usually involves no more than a $2,000 fine and/or 6 months in county jail.
Under the law, any physical contact with another that was not accidental may be considered as willfully touching. It doesn’t matter whether you hurt the victim or not. Therefore, if you lightly poke someone during an argument, you may be charged with battery. Furthermore, battery may apply even when there is no direct physical contact. For example, if you spit on someone or grab his or her clothes, a court will probably consider that you touched that person.
Battery Resulting in a Serious Injury
If the battery results in serious injury, then Section 243(d) of the California Penal Code applies. For this aggravated battery offense to apply, the injury must be relatively serious, such as a concussion or a broken bone. Depending on the gravity of the battery, you may be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor. While the maximum misdemeanor sentence can be 1 year in county jail, the felony sentence may be between 2 and 4 years in jail.
When the Victim Is a Peace Officer
If the victim of the battery is a police officer, firefighter, an EMT, or most any other person providing official safety or emergency services, battery against a peace officer applies.
When there is no serious injury, you may receive a sentence of up to 1 year in county jail. If you injure the peace officer—whether seriously or not—then you may be charged with a felony involving a sentence between 16 months and 3 years in jail.
If you commit a simple battery against:
- Your spouse or former spouse
- Your current or former cohabitant
- Your current or former fiancé
- A person you are or used to be dating
- The parent of your child
You maybe charged with domestic battery, for which California Penal Code Section 243(e) provides a maximum sentence of 1 year in county jail.
Possible Defenses for Your Battery Charges
Your attorney may be able to apply several defenses to your case. The most well-known defense against violent charges is self-defense. To successfully plead self-defense in California, your lawyer will need to show all of the following:
- You had a reasonable belief that you or someone else was about to be injured or unlawfully touched
- You had a reasonable belief that the immediate use of force was necessary to stop the injury from happening
- You only used the amount of force necessary to defend against the danger
If your attorney cannot plausibly demonstrate that you acted in self-defense, she may be able to show that you did not act willfully. In the case of simple battery, for example, there is often a reasonable doubt as to whether the alleged perpetrator actually meant to make physical contact with the victim. It’s important to remember, however, that being drunk or on drugs does not allow a defendant to claim he or she was not acting willfully at the time of the battery.
At McElfresh Law, our goal is to defend the rights and freedom of every one of our clients. San Diego attorney Jessica McElfresh has a proven track record of aggressively representing her clients’ interests to obtain positive results in their criminal cases. If you’re facing assault, battery, or domestic violence charges, you can call us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case at (858) 756-7107.