California Battery Laws

California Battery Laws

California Penal Code 242 defines the crime of battery as any deliberate, illegal use of force or violence toward someone else. According to California PC 243, this crime is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, six months’ imprisonment in a county jail or both. The penalties and fines increase exponentially if the incident resulted in injuries. Here’s what you need to know about California battery laws and what you should do if you face battery charges.

What Is Battery?

By definition, battery involves a willful act of violence. However, it does not necessarily involve causing bodily harm. For example, you can face battery charges if you push or elbow someone for cutting in front of you in a long line.

People often use the phrase “assault and battery,” but those are two separate crimes under California law. California PC 240 defines an assault as an attempt to commit a violent act, such as if you throw an object at somebody and miss.

A battery that results in severe injury can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, the consequences are up to one year in county jail. As a felony, it can carry a prison sentence of up to four years. This felony charge also falls under California’s “three-strikes” law, which can sentence someone with prior offenses on their record to prison for 25 years to life.

Types of Battery Charges

In California, people who commit battery against specific professionals while they are carrying out their duties can be charged with harsher penalties, such as up to three years in jail. These “peace officers” include police, firefighters, EMTs, and doctors providing emergency medical care.

Another form of battery defined by the victim’s status is domestic battery, which involves current and former spouses, partners, roommates and co-parents. Domestic battery is a misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $2,000 and a possible one-year county jail sentence. If granted probation for a domestic battery conviction, you must enroll in a battering treatment program.

Sexual battery is distinct from all these in that it consists of inappropriately touching someone else without their consent to achieve sexual gratification. Sexual battery can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, but in either case, a conviction requires you to register as a sex offender in California.

Elder abuse is a form of battery committed against someone aged 65 or older. This offense is a “wobbler” – if charged as a felony, it carries a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine of up to $6,000.

What to Do If You Are Facing Battery Charges

Many people are surprised to find themselves hit with battery charges after a seemingly minor incident that did not result in injuries. As defense attorneys, we know standing accused of a misdemeanor or felony can feel overwhelming, and you may be unsure what steps to take.

Experienced legal representation can safeguard your rights and freedom. If you or someone you care about is facing battery charges in Orange County, reach out to us to discuss your case’s specifics and learn more about your potential legal defenses.


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