California Law Regarding Battery Charges

Penal Code 242 – Battery Laws in California

The crime of battery is often confused with the crime of assault. This may be due to the frequently used term “assault and battery” which is most commonly used rather than just assault or just battery. There is a difference between the two and the following is an explanation of the difference.

The distinct difference between assault and battery is that, battery requires that the defendant have actual physical contact with the victim. Whereas with assault, you can be charged with assault even if you did not actually, physically touch the victim. The definition of battery is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence on someone else. My clients are often surprised to learn that you can be charged, and found guilty, of battery even if there was no injury or injuries. All that is required is that the victim was touched in an offensive way.

More seriously though, is if the assault does result in an injury or injuries, then the charge may be Penal Code 243(d), which is battery causing serious bodily injury. Most battery charges are misdemeanors but battery causing injury is a “wobbler”, meaning it may be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the severity of the injuries, the circumstances of the offense and any prior history of the defendant.

As stated above, a simple battery is a misdemeanor. The penalties may include a fine of up to $2,000.00 and up to six months in jail. The penalties for felony battery can be two, three or four years in prison.

Domestic battery and battery on a peace officer carry harsher penalties. Battery on a peace officer includes specific individuals, which are listed below:

  • Peace officer or law enforcement officers
  • Custodial officers
  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical technicians or paramedics
  • Lifeguards
  • Security Officers
  • Custody Assistants
  • Process Servers
  • Traffic officers
  • Code Enforcement Officers
  • Animal Control Officers
  • Search and Rescue Members
  • Employee of a probation Department
  • Doctors or nurses providing emergency medical care.

Domestic battery includes the following individuals:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • A cohabitant or former cohabitant
  • Fiancé or former fiancé
  • Someone you have or have had a dating relationship with
  • The mother or father of your child.

The penalty for domestic battery may include a $2,000.00 fine and the potential sentence of up to one year in jail. Also, anyone convicted of domestic battery will be required to attend and complete a batterer’s treatment program, which typically lasts one year.

Anyone who has been arrested for battery of any nature should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer with experience in all types of battery related charges.