The crime of battery is a serious offense in California. A simple battery, which occurs when a person inflicts violence of force against another person, is severely punished even if the person does not cause the other any physical harm. When a battery offense results in serious physical injuries, the penalties are stiff and may include lengthy prison terms and hefty fines. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin, we know how such a grave sentence can affect several aspects of your life. That is why we offer quality legal defense for residents of Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles County. If you are facing charges for aggravated battery, we could help you fight them to a fairer outcome.
Legal Definition of California Battery with a Serious Physical Injury
California law makes it an offense for any person to use violence or force against another person. A simple battery is, in itself, a severe offense in the state. It even gets worse if the battery results in physical injuries, as this could attract a more severe penalty of up to four years behind bars. A lot of people have found themselves facing this severe charge for acting in self-defense and sometimes for accidentally causing injuries on another person. If that is your case and you are afraid of getting an unfair ruling, getting in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney could help protect your rights.
California laws against battery with serious physical injury are under Section 243d of the state's Legal Code. This offense is also referred to as aggravated battery, and it occurs when a person touches another in an offensive and harmful manner, causing them to suffer serious physical injuries. The primary offense here is the battery, which is well-defined as willfully touching another person in an offensive or harmful manner. To understand it better, let us look at the various aspects of California battery offense as provided by its legal definition:
To Touch Someone Else
To touch someone else means making a physical connection with someone else, even if the contact is made through their clothing. Any touch will be considered in this case as long as it is done in an offensive or harmful manner. If the contact causes the other person's physical injuries, the offender can be charged with aggravated battery.
Example: Two office workers, Jimmy and Tom, are arguing in an office. Out of anger, Tom shoves Jimmy as he storms out of the office. It causes Jimmy to fall on the office chair, breaking his arm. Tom may not have touched Jimmy forcefully but the little contact resulting in a physical injury. For that reason, Tom could be liable for aggravated battery.
Touching someone willfully means that the touch was done purposely or intentionally. Note that doing something willingly does not mean that you intended to break any law, to hurt another person, or gain an advantage over them.
Causing Severe Injuries
Causing severe injuries is the critical element of California Penal Code 243d, which distinguishes it from California Simple Battery offense, provided under Section 242. Note that the defendant does not have to cause another person harm to be found guilty of aggravated battery. The mere intention to cause injuries on another person by touching them in an offensive or harmful manner can cause you to be charged with this offense.
In an Offensive or Harmful Manner
A contact can only qualify as an aggravated battery offense in California if it happens in an offensive or harmful manner. This kind of touch or contact is one that is angry, violent, rude, and disrespectful.
Example: Out of excitement, Jane rushes out of her house, pushing little Jimmy out of her way. Jimmy falls hard, breaking his ankle. However, since the push was not done in an offensive or harmful way, Jane may not be found guilty of aggravated battery, even if the push resulted in physical injuries.
Assault and Battery
These are two terms that are frequently used together, while in the real sense, they are different. In California, assault is a different form of offense from the offense of battery. According to California laws, assault may be an unwanted act of touch on another person. This act may or may not result in physical harm. Battery, on the other hand, is the real infliction of violence or force on another person.
Assault does not necessarily involve the actual physical touch, but the battery offense does. It makes assault more of an attempted battery, then battery like the complete assault.
Aggravated battery offense is not complete until it results in serious physical injury. A severe injury, in this situation, will be unspecified severe damage to the person's physical state. The injury doesn’t need to be so severe to the point that the injured sought medical treatment. Some physical injuries, which could qualify as severe for this law include:
- Bone fractures
- Impairment or protracted loss of the functioning of an organ or body part
- Serious wounds that would require extensive suturing
- Severe disfigurement
However, under the state’s aggravated battery laws, the decision of whether an injury will be considered severe or not is left in the hands of the jury. This decision will vary from one case to another. It means that there is no guarantee that injuries listed above will fall under the category of aggravated battery. Some injuries will be considered severe, while others will not.
Penalties for California Aggravated Battery Conviction
Aggravated battery in California is a wobbler. It means that the prosecutor can charge the offense c as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The decision concerning how the offense will be charged is usually at the discretion of the prosecutor. His/her decision will be based on the details of the situation as well as the defendant's criminal record.
If a person gets convicted of a misdemeanor aggravated battery in California, here are the penalties he/she is likely to get:
- Summary or misdemeanor probation
- Maximum one year in jail
- Fines of not more than $1000
A felony conviction for California aggravated battery will carry more severe penalties. Some of these are:
- Formal or felony probation
- 2, 3, or 4years in jail
- Fines of not more than $10,000
In addition to the above penalties, a person who gets convicted with felony aggravated battery in California loses their gun rights. It means that they will not be able to possess or buy a firearm. If they do any of that, they are likely to face another felony conviction for a felony with a gun.
Again, a person convicted of felony aggravated battery in the state might face additional criminal penalties if the judge determines that their victim incurred great physical injuries. Note that great physical injuries are different from serious physical injuries in that the former is more substantial or significant.
When a person suffers serious physical injuries, it means that their injuries are not as severe as those of a person who has sustained significant physical injuries. Again, it is worth noting that not every case of an aggravated battery offense will result in significant physical injuries. If the court determines that the victim suffered more substantial injuries because of the defendant's actions, the defendant will get an extra three to six years of imprisonment. This sentence will be given in addition to the penalties he/she will get for the underlying aggravated battery.
Possible Legal Defense Strategies to California Aggravated Battery Charges
From the penalties listed above, it is clear that a conviction of aggravated battery is enough to affect so many aspects of a person's life. Other than that, it is not the kind of sentence anyone wants to have in their criminal record. What many people may be unaware of is that a person can get convicted for aggravated battery for merely touching another person, even if they did not intend to harm them. For that reason, it is advisable to try and fight your charges and ensure that you are not getting convicted.
The help of a qualified criminal defense attorney will go a long way in ensuring that your charges are either dropped or reduced. The good thing is that there are legal defense strategies your attorney can use in your defense. Some of these are:
That you were Acting in Self-defense
This is a beneficial legal defense that could see your charges dropped. However, the court will only allow this defense strategy if all of these statements were true:
- That you had a good reason to believe that you or another individual was in immediate risk of suffering physical harm or being illegally touched
- That you genuinely thought that using more force on the other person was needed to safeguard yourself or the other person
- That the amount of energy you used on the other person was not more than required to defend yourself or another person against the danger you were experiencing at that time
If all these are true, then the court will have no option but to either drop or reduce your charges accordingly.
That it was an Accident
A person can accidentally touch another person and cause them injuries without meaning to do so. If this is what happened in your case, then your attorney must be able to convince the court that it was all an accident. Note that a person can be sentenced to aggravated battery in California even though they did not plan to injure another person. However, if the touch or contact made was not willful, the court might consider the whole incident an accident.
For instance, you might have accidentally pushed a person while passing them in a rush, or you might have tripped and fallen on a person, injuring him/her. In any of these cases, the offender accidentally caused their victim's injuries; therefore, the offense does not qualify as an aggravated battery.
The Injury was not Serious
The kind of damage that is considered in charging a person with aggravated battery must be severe. If the damage was not serious, then the offender might be guilty of simple battery, which is a lesser offense. As mentioned above, it is the prosecutor that determines the seriousness of injuries to decide whether to charge an offender with a simple or aggravated battery. If you are facing aggravated battery charges, but you believe that the injuries were not serious, your attorney can provide evidence on the same to counter the prosecutor's evidence. If successful, your charges will be reduced, and you will face less-severe penalties as compared to what you would get for aggravated battery.
California Aggravated Battery Charge and Related Offenses
California laws have several other crimes that are closely related to aggravated battery. Some of these offenses are charged in place of aggravated battery charges, while others are charges along with the aggravated battery. These offenses include:
California Simple Battery
Laws against this offense are provided under Section 242 of California Laws. A simple battery is quite similar to an aggravated battery, only that the crime doesn’t result in serious physical injuries. The crime is always a misdemeanor.
Battery on a Protected Officer
This offense is covered under Sections 243b and 243c of the State's Laws. The crime is also a misdemeanor in the state, only that the jail term for this particular offense goes up to one year.
Corporal Injury on a Spouse
The law against this offense is provided under Section 273.5 of California Laws. The crime occurs when one person inflicts physical injuries on an intimate partner, which results in a traumatic condition. The offense is a wobbler, and can, therefore, be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
Find A Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Near Me
If you or someone close to you is facing charges for California battery with a serious physical injury, it may be time to get into contact with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will help you understand your legal situation, as well as your options. He/she will also take you through the legal process to ensure that your rights are protected. If you are in Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles County, call us at 310-273-9600. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin, we have a team of highly-skilled and seasoned criminal defense lawyers that can take up your case and provide a favorable outcome.