If you have been charged with battery, call Los Angeles battery attorney Amboriso Rodriguez today for a free consultation. Ambrosio is a former prosecutor with over 18 years experience in criminal law. Don’t give the prosecution time to build a case against you. Contact his Los Angeles office today to discuss your best legal options.
If you touch another person in a harmful or offensive way you can potentially face serious criminal consequences. California law makes it a crime to touch another person without his or her consent. You can be guilty of the crime of battery even if the alleged victim does not suffer an injury. The fact that you touched them – or caused an object to touch them – in a harmful or offensive way is enough to break the law. California prosecutors will aggressively pursue criminal charges against those accused of a battery. Anything less than a battery can be charged and tried as criminal assault.
Criminal Battery in California
In California, Penal Code Section 242 PC defines a battery as “the willful or unlawful use of force or violence” against another person. The prosecutor who is handling your case will have to prove each element of the offense to get a conviction. If the prosecutor is unsuccessful in proving any element of the crime of battery the charges against you will not stand. A prosecutor must prove:
The Act Must Be Willful
The act of battery must be done willfully. This does not mean that you intend to harm the alleged victim. Rather, it means that you intended to engage in the act that caused the other person to be touched. There is no requirement that you intend to break the law, cause harm, or hurt another person. You cannot be found guilty of the crime of battery if you did not act intentionally.
For example, if you throw a punch in the heat of the moment and injure another person during a fight you could be guilty of a battery. This is because you purposefully balled your fist and swung your arm in the direction of another person. Similarly, if you picked up a bottle and threw it in anger you could be guilty of a battery if the bottle hits another person. It does not matter if you intended to hit the person or not. This is because you purposefully picked up the bottle and threw it.
The Contact Must Be Harmful or Offensive
Not all contact between two people is a crime. Only contact that is harmful or offensive is a crime. What makes contact harmful or offensive? Generally, there is no objective standard or bright line. Rather, the context of the situation will shape the nature of the contact. However, contact that is violent, aggressive, angry, or disrespectful will generally be sufficient to satisfy this element.
The context of the situation and the relationship between the parties will dictate if contact was harmful or offensive. For example, playfully shoving a teammate after they make a great play will probably not be considered a battery. The relationship between you and your teammates, the celebratory atmosphere, and purpose for the contact tend to show that the contact was not harmful or offensive.
If, on the other hand, you shove a man at a concert after he bumps into you, the contact is more likely to be considered harmful or offensive. The conduct arose out of anger, rather than celebration, and you do not know the other person. The context of the situation matters when determining if contact is harmful or offensive. It often comes down to how the contact made the alleged victim feel.
Penalties for Simple Battery in California
Simple battery is the harmful or offensive touching of another person. You can be guilty of a simple battery even if the alleged victim does not suffer any injury or harm. A simple battery is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted of a simple battery you may face up to 6 months in a California county prison and/or be required to pay a fine of no more than $2,000.
Penalties for Aggravated Battery in California
What happens when the alleged victim does suffer an injury or if the victim is the member of a protected class? In those cases, you can face charges for aggravated battery. The penalties associated with crimes of aggravated battery are much greater than those for simple battery.
Battery Causing Great Bodily Harm [California Penal Code Section 243(d) PC]
If the victim of a battery suffers great bodily harm you can be charged with battery as a misdemeanor or a felony. Great bodily harm is defined as “any serious impairment of physical condition.” Great bodily harm is a subjective term and the finder of fact (judge or jury) will determine if the victim’s injuries are sufficient to warrant aggravated charges.
If convicted of a misdemeanor charge for a battery causing great bodily harm you can face up to one year in a California county prison.
If convicted of a felony charge for a battery causing great bodily harm you can face 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison.
Battery Against a Peace Officer [California Penal Code Section 243(b) PC]
If the victim of a battery is a member of a statutorily-protected class under 243(b) PC you can be charged with an aggravated battery offense carrying up to three years in jail.
You may be charged with aggravated battery if you knew or should have known that the victim of the battery was a peace officer, custodial officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic, lifeguard, security officer, custody assistant, process server, traffic officer, code enforcement officer, animal control officer, search and rescue member, probation department employee, doctor or nurse giving emergency medical care.
Domestic Battery [California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) PC]
If the victim of a battery is a family or household member you can be charged with domestic battery. A domestic battery occurs when the alleged victim is a (current or former): spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, significant other, or co-parent. A conviction for domestic battery is punishable by up to one year in a California county jail, a fine of up to $2,000, and/or summary probation. You may also be required to complete a batterer’s treatment program, contribute up to $5,000 to a battered women’s shelter, and/or reimburse the alleged victim for counseling and other expenses related to the crime.
Sexual Battery [California Penal Code Section 243.4 PC]
Sexual battery is a crime that is distinct from other forms of battery because it requires you to make contact with a specific area of another person’s body against his or her will. Sexual battery is the crime of touching the intimate part of another person against his or her will for sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse. Intimate parts include the genitals, inner thigh, buttocks, and female breast.
The penalty for the crime of sexual battery depends on the severity of the offense and the age of the victim. Sexual battery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Defenses to Charges of Criminal Battery in California
Just because you have been charged with criminal battery in California does not automatically mean that you will be convicted of the crime. Hiring an experienced Los Angeles battery attorney to handle your case is the best way to reduce the potential criminal consequences you face. When you hire an attorney they will argue any defense that may be appropriate for your case. Defenses to battery include:
- Self-defense or the defense of another person;
- Conduct was not willful;
- Conduct was not harmful or offensive;
- Actual innocence; and
- False accusation.
Experienced Los Angeles Battery Attorney
When you are arrested or charged with criminal battery in Los Angeles, CA, you should immediately contact an attorney. The prosecution will begin to gather evidence and build a case against you the moment you are arrested. The best way to fight criminal charges is to limit the prosecution’s ability to build a persuasive case against you. Your criminal defense attorney’s job will be to make the prosecution’s job as difficult as possible. As a former California prosecutor, Ambrosio E. Rodriguez knows how the prosecution will approach your case and the steps that they will take. No one is in a better position to fight the prosecution than a former prosecutor.
If you have been charged with a battery in California you can face serious criminal consequences. If you are convicted you can be sentenced to serious time in prison and be required to pay steep monetary fines. Once you have paid your dues, you will also be burdened with a criminal record that can make getting back to your day-to-day life difficult. Employers, landlords, and schools may be hesitant to approve your application when they see your conviction for criminal battery. Ambrosio E. Rodriguez can help you limit the potential negative repercussions of an arrest for criminal battery. Contact his office today to schedule a free consultation.