Hitting a police officer or other public official can lead to serious criminal penalties. If you have been arrested for battery on a police officer you need the help of a skilled legal professional. Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez is a former prosecutor who can help you minimize the consequences of your arrest. Call The Rodriguez Law Group today to schedule your free consultation.
- 1 Battery Laws
- 2 Battery on a Police Officer in California
- 3 Penalty for Battery on a Police Officer
- 4 Call Our Los Angeles Battery Attorneys
Before we can understand what the crime of battery on a police officer is, we must understand the underlying crime of battery. In California, battery is defined in Penal Code §242 to mean the “willful and unlawful use of force or violence” against another person. You can face charges for battery in Los Angeles any time you hit or touch another person in a harmful or offensive way and cause them harm.
In most cases, battery is a misdemeanor offense in California, punishable by a maximum of 6 months in jail and $2,500 in fines. Things change, however, when the victim of your battery is a police officer or public official.
Battery on a Police Officer in California
Battery is a serious crime. The stakes are even higher when the victim of your crime is an officer of the law. Battery on a police officer, as defined in Penal Code §243(b) PC, occurs when you touch a working police officer (or other protected person) in a harmful or offensive manner.
In order to be convicted of battery on a police officer, the state will be required to prove:
- The victim was a police officer (or other protected person) engaged in his or her official capacity;
- You willfully and unlawfully touched that person in a harmful and offensive manner;
- At the time of the act, you reasonably knew or should have known the victim was an officer; and
- The victim suffered an injury as a result of your actions.
Police Officer Engaged in Official Capacity
You can only be convicted under Penal Code §243(b) PC when the victim of your battery is “engaged in the performance of his or her duties.” This does not mean that a police officer has to be on duty. The only thing that matters is that the officer is “performing the duties required of him or her as a peace officer.” This can include actions taken while off-duty or serving in a different role as a private security officer.
Who is considered a “police officer” for the purposes of California’s battery law? Possibilities include:
- Sheriff’s Deputies
- Local and county police officers
- California Highway Patrol officers
- Transit Police
- Harbor Police
- Campus police
- State Parks Peace Officer, and
- Special Agents with the California Department of Justice.
Reasonable Knowledge of the Victim’s Status
The state must also be able to prove that you reasonably knew, or should have known, that the victim of your actions was a police officer (or other protected person). If you honestly did not know, and there were no clear indicators to make you think that the victim was an officer of the law, you cannot be convicted. This is a question of fact that can only be determined by analyzing the circumstances of your case.
Evidence that may support the fact that you knew, or should have known, the victim was a peace officer include:
- The officer was wearing a uniform
- The officer identified himself or herself
- The officer displayed a badge or other credentials, or
- The officer was in the company of other police officers.
Other Protected Persons
Police officers are not the only group protected by Penal Code §243(b) PC. It is also a crime to commit a battery when you know or should know that the victim is a:
- Custodial officer
- Emergency medical technician (EMT)
- Security officer
- Custody assistant
- Process server
- Traffic officer
- Code enforcement officer
- Animal control officer
- Probation officer
- Search and rescue member, or
- Medical professional administering emergency medical care.
The penalties for battery will be more severe when the victim (1) identifies as a member of one of these professions and (2) is engaged in his or her official capacity at the time of the crime.
Penalty for Battery on a Police Officer
Battery on a police officer can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California.
Misdemeanor Battery on a Police Officer
Without any aggravating factors, battery on a police officer is a misdemeanor in Los Angeles. If convicted of misdemeanor battery on a police officer, your criminal sentence can include:
- 1 year in a Los Angeles County jail, and/or
- $2,500 in criminal fines.
Felony Battery on a Police Officer
Committing a battery against a police officer can be a felony if that officer suffers an injury. Felony battery on a police officer is punishable by:
- 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in a California state prison; and/or
- Criminal fines not exceeding $25,000.
Battery on a peace officer may also be charged as a felony if:
- The officer suffers great bodily harm,
- The crime is committed in support of a criminal street gang, or
- You use or display a gun or deadly weapon during the crime.
Defending Battery on a Police Officer Charges
Just because you have been accused of hitting a police officer does not mean that you will be convicted of a crime. You have the right to defend yourself, and the Los Angeles criminal defense team at the Rodriguez Law Group can help. When you contact our office we will thoroughly investigate your alleged crime and determine which defense(s) may be applicable to your case. Arguing a defense persuasively will make it difficult for the state to build a strong case against you. As a result, prosecutors will be more inclined to offer a plea deal or, in some cases, they may be forced to drop the charges against you altogether.
Lack of Knowledge: You cannot be convicted of battery on a police officer (or other protected person) if you did not know, and could not have reasonably known, that the victim was an officer of the law.
No Battery Occurred: The crime of battery only occurs when you willfully and unlawfully touch another person in a harmful or offensive way. We will investigate your case and determine if there is actual evidence to prove you committed a battery.
Self Defense: In California, you have the right to use force to defend yourself in certain situations. If a police officer used more force than was reasonably necessary to subdue you or make an arrest, your actions may be justified under the law. A successful self-defense argument can allow you to defeat any criminal charges for battery.
Mistaken Identity: Sometimes defendants are wrongfully accused of a crime because they resemble another person. If you were mistakenly identified as a criminal, our attorneys will search to uncover evidence to prove that you are not guilty of the crime.
Call Our Los Angeles Battery Attorneys
Have you or someone you love been arrested for battery on a police officer in Los Angeles? A conviction can land you behind bars and devastate your future. Contact the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at the Rodriguez Law Group for help fighting any criminal charges that you may face. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to call us today.