A battery conviction in the state of California can significantly affect your life. Understanding your charges and determining a course of action can sometimes be difficult for a person who has been arrested and is facing battery charges. At the Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we advise you to seek immediate legal help to ensure that you are receiving the help and support you need to fight the charges you are facing. Some of the things you need help with after arrest are the kinds of penalties you are likely to receive, and what exactly will be used to prove your liability.

If you are in Orange County, get in touch with us. With our vast experience in handling various criminal cases, we are willing to take you through the process, and convince the judge to either drop the charges or reduce them to a more lenient charge.

Understanding California Simple Battery

The law against simple Battery in California is provided under Section 242 of the state's Legal Code and is defined as illegally and willfully using violence or force on another person. When the term 'battery' is used, what comes to the minds of many people is severe beatings. In the real sense, you can still face battery charges in the state even if you did not cause your victim any injuries. What the court wants to hear to convict you with Battery is that you offensively touched another person.

However, if your actions resulted in serious physical injury on your victim, the prosecutor will not charge you with simple Battery but with a more severe offense called Battery Resulting in Serious Physical Injury, provided under Section 243(d) of California Statutes.

To understand the crime of simple Battery as provided under California Laws, let us examine the elements of this crime, which the prosecutor must prove for an offender to be found guilty:

  • That the offender touched another person
  • That they did so willfully
  • That the touch was done in an offensive or harmful manner

Note that the three elements must be proven for you to be found guilty of Battery. If the prosecutor is unable to prove one or two of the elements provided, then your battery charges could be dropped.

From that legal definition, there are critical legal terms that will help you understand the offense better:

Touching another person: The crime of simple Battery in the state only requires the offender to make bodily contact with the other person, even if they will not cause that person any injury. A slight touch can still be considered offensive and can result in battery charges if it satisfied the other two elements stated above.

The touching, in this case, can occur either directly or indirectly. Offensively touching a person through their clothes can also be charged as Battery, as well as indirectly through the use of an item.

The touch could also happen through something that is intimately connected to the other person’s body, even though it is not an actual part of their body. In this case, knocking something off the hands of another person can qualify as Battery if it was willfully done and in an unpleasant or harmful manner.

Doing so willfully: The act of touching has to be done willfully for it to be considered as simple Battery in California. As used in this context, willfully mean done on purpose or willingly, though it doesn’t mean that the offender intended to hurt the other person, commit a crime, or take advantage of their victim. What this means is that you do not need to have the intention of committing Battery for you to be found guilty of the same, as long as you intended to act in a way that resulted in Battery.

Done in an offensive or harmful manner: The act of touch in a battery case has to have been done offensively or in a harmful way. This would mean a contact that is rude, violent, disrespectful, or angry.

What is the Difference between Battery and Assault?

Many people use Battery and assault interchangeably while in truth, the two are separate offenses that constitute different elements and attract different penalties in California. Again, the two offenses are used together as assault and Battery, which could suggest to some people that they are the same offenses. The differences between the two are as follows:

  • As defined under Section 240 of the California penal Code, assault is used to refer to any action that could inflict or trigger unwanted touch or physical harm on another person. Battery, on the other hand, is defined as the actual commission of violence or infliction of force on another person.
  • In a case of assault, physical contact is not necessary for a person to be found guilty of the offense, but in Battery, it is one of the most essential elements of the crime. This could suggest that assault is an attempt a person makes to commit the crime of Battery and Battery could mean an accomplished assault.

Example: an enraged man driving on the highway notices that a female driver has overtaken him. The man gets so angry to the point of wanting to hit the woman's car from behind. Since he is aware that the consequences of that will be severe, the results in a threatening behavior on the road, getting too close to the woman's car. The woman is terrified that the man will hit her car, but he does not. This behavior qualifies as assault under California laws because the man willfully engages in threatening and violent behavior, and he can carry out that threat. The reason why this is not considered as Battery is that the man does not carry out the threat.

If he had succeeded in hitting the woman's car, the man would face both charges of assault and Battery. However, since assault is not always included in a battery case, he will be charged with either Battery or offense depending on the nature of the offense itself and the judge.

Penalties for California Simple Battery

Simple Battery in California is a battery offense that doesn’t cause any severe injuries to the victim. It is also the kind of Battery that is not done against a protected person such as the police. In that case, the offense is convicted as a misdemeanor, attracting the following penalties:

  • Summary or misdemeanor probation
  • Anger management classes
  • Imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of six months
  • A fine of not more than $2000
  • Firearm ban for at least ten years if a firearm was involved in the commission of the crime

Misdemeanor/summary probation is an alternative to spending time in jail and is granted offenders who are considered as low-risk. When allowed probation, the offender can serve most or all of his/her sentence out of jail bit under court supervision. Misdemeanor probation is also called informal probation and is quite different from formal or felony probation.

Misdemeanor probation can last for between one and three years in the state of California, though sometimes it can go up to five years. During the probation, the offender is given certain conditions they must comply with, which might include mandatory counseling sessions, the performance of community labor and payment if restitution to their victims. If the offender does not comply with the given conditions, the judge might revoke the probation and send him/her to jail to complete their sentence.

The types of offenders who get summary probation in California are mainly first-time offenders and juvenile offenders. The probation is primarily given to protect members of the public, restore the victim as well as rehabilitate the offender. However, there are instances when a second or subsequent offender can get informal probation. All this depends on the assessment of the judge on how the offender will fair if they are granted a second chance.

Possible Defenses for California Simple Battery

A battery conviction on your record can significantly affect various aspects of your life, including your social and professional life. Many people will find it hard to maintain their job or find a new job if they have been convicted of Battery in a workplace environment. You might lose your family or your relationship with your children could be affected if you have been convicted of Battery at home or in a social context. That is why you should try and fight the battery charges you are facing as soon as you get arrested.

The best thing to do in this case is to partner with a competent criminal lawyer. A well-skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer will take the time to assess your case. This way, he/she will be able to determine the best legal defense they can use to convince the judge to either drop or reduce your battery charges. Fortunately, several legal strategies can be used in your case, some of which are:

You were defending yourself or another person

The battery in self-defense or when defending another person is allowed in the state of California. However, the following have to be true for this to be accepted as a defense against battery charges:

  • That you had a good reason to believe that you or another person was in looming danger of getting hurt or being illegally touched
  • That you believed acting by force immediately was essential to defend yourself or the person from the looming danger,
  • that the amount of force you used was reasonable under the circumstances to ensure that you successfully defend yourself or the other person from the threat.

If, for instance, two neighbors have had a troubled relationship for a very long time. One day, neighbor 1 confronts neighbor 2 in the streets, poking him in the chest. In response, neighbor 2 pushes neighbor1 hard enough, who then slips and falls. Even if neighbor1 did not do much than poking neighbor 2 in the chest, neighbor 2 would not be liable for battery if he used self-defense as his legal defense in trial.

It is important to note that even though words can sometimes be very offensive; they cannot be used to justify Battery. A person can only use self-defense or defense of others if they had a good reason to believe that they or the other person was at a risk of suffering physical injury or getting illegally touched.

Your action was not willful

The act of touching another person has to be done willfully for the offense to be considered as Battery. This will apply even if you did not intend to harm the other person. If therefore, your actions were merely accidental, you might be able to convince the court that you did not act willfully.

Example: if you accidentally hit someone with something you were carrying, this will not qualify to be California battery even if that person suffered a severe injury. What you need is the help of a competent attorney to prove that your actions were not intentional.

Other instances that can qualify as accidental in defense for California simple battery charges are:

  • Car accidents
  • Accidental bicycle collisions
  • Dropping an object off a balcony by accident, then it hits another person
  • Tripping and falling on a person or people in a crowded street or bus, injuring some of them

You were exercising your parental rights in disciplining a child

It is common to find a parent facing battery charges because of disciplining their children. Sometimes these charges come with a connection to California child abuse charges as provided under Section 273(d) of the state's Penal Code. If yours is a case of Battery in an attempt to correct a child, you may not be found guilty of California's simple battery as provided under Section 242. All you need is an excellent attorney who will demonstrate to the court that your actions were within your parental rights in disciplining your child.

In California, parents are permitted to use some form of physical force against a child while disciplining them as long as that force is reasonably used and not extreme under the prevailing circumstances.

Actions that cannot qualify as a defense for California battery

Some excuses may seem as viable defenses for Battery, which will not be accepted as so in California. These are, for instance:

Voluntary intoxication: It may seem like a good idea to blame your actions on intoxication, but California courts will not accept it as a defense. A person who committed the crime of Battery while intoxicated cannot claim that alcohol or drugs influenced their actions. This is as long as the intoxication was voluntary. This law is based on the fact that people who use drugs or alcohol are well aware that intoxication can affect their mental functioning. This means that since the intoxication is voluntary, they should be ready to take legal responsibility for any crime they commit out of the intoxication.

However, if the intoxication was involuntary, the defendant will be able to use it as a defense against their battery charges. The court will accept this as a defense since you did not choose the intoxication.

Provocation: Similarly, California courts will not accept provocation as a defense for battery charges. If a person provokes you and you respond by battering them, you can be found guilty of Battery even if their provocation triggered the action. As long as that provocation was not a threat to inflict physical harm or injury on the defendant, it will not be accepted as a defense. Note that responding forcefully to harsh words will not be an excuse for committing a crime of Battery in the state.

California Simple Battery and Related Offenses

Battery against a dependent adult or elder

This offense is provided under Section 368 of the California Penal Code and is committed when the battery victim is a dependent adult or an elder. This offense is also called 'elder abuse' and is committed by a person who knows very well that the person is an elder or a dependent adult and their actions could result in serious bodily harm or even death of the adult.

California battery against a dependent adult can be committed when a person inflicts unjustifiable physical pain or injury on a dependent person or a person that is 65 years of age or older.

Dependent adults are those people who, as a result of their disability or age, are dependent on others to meet their day to day needs. These are people who are not able to protect themselves, to understand or report a crime, which is why the law is very protective of them

if you intentionally or with criminal intent subjected an elder or a dependent adult to any form of physical or mental suffering, or you acted in a manner that could have resulted in severe bodily injury or even death of an elder, ad you knew well that the person you are acting against is an elder or a dependent person, you can be charged with Battery against an elder or dependent adult.

The penalties for this offense are a maximum fine of between $6000 and $10,000, probation (either a misdemeanor or felony), payment of restitution to the victim, and incarceration for between 1 to 4 years, depending on whether you get a misdemeanor or felony conviction.

Domestic Battery

California domestic battery laws are provided under Section 243(e)(1) of the state's laws. The crime is committed when a person unlawfully and willfully touches another person in an offensive and harmful manner. The other person, in this case, will be any among the following:

  • Their spouse or a former spouse
  • Their cohabitant or previous cohabitant
  • Their fiancé (e) or a former fiancé (e)
  • The person they were in a courting relationship with
  • The mother or father of their child/children

Domestic Battery is also called Spousal Battery and could also happen even if the victim did not suffer any physical injuries. All the prosecutor needs is to prove that you used violence or force against your victim.

California's domestic battery is convicted as a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of a maximum $2000 and/or one year of jail time. Once convicted, the court may require you to complete a domestic violence program for at least 52 weeks.

Sexual Battery

Sexual battery laws in California are provided under Section 243.4 of the state’s laws. The offense is committed when a person touches the intimate part or another person for sexual arousal, gratification, or sexual abuse. The offense is convicted as either a felony or a misdemeanor.  

If the victim were not aware of the act because they were either fraudulently convinced that the touching was professional, or they were illegally restrained, institutionalized or forced to touch themselves sexually, the offense would be convicted as a felony.

Misdemeanor sexual battery in California is punishable by a maximum of six months in jail, a fine of a maximum of $2000 or $3000 if the defendant is the victim’s employee or an informal or misdemeanor probation for a maximum of five years.

For a felony conviction, the offender might get formal or felony probation, or two, three or four years of prison time. The prison term could be increased by between 3-5 years if the victim sustained severe bodily injuries. The defendant could also get a fine of a maximum of $10,000 and a mandatory requirement to register as a tier three sex offender.

Find an Orange County Criminal Lawyer Near Me

California battery offense is taken very seriously as it could result in serious physical injury or even death of a victim. If therefore you or your loved one is facing battery charges in Orange County, get in touch with a competent criminal lawyer to help you fight the charges. At Orange County Criminal Lawyer, California battery is one of the many criminal cases we deal with. We have vast experience and skills that could help you get a more lenient sentence or have or charges dropped altogether. Call us at 714-262-4833 and let us work with you throughout the process.