How California Law Defines Battery

There are many misconceptions about battery charges in Oakland, CA. Many people are quick to confuse battery and assault charges. But these are separate crimes.

Under California Penal Code § 242, you can expect to face criminal battery charges if you use any unlawful use of force on another person. Even if the victim in the case does not suffer serious bodily injury, you may be subject to misdemeanor or felony battery charges.

But before you can be convicted, the prosecutor will need to prove that you meet the elements of the crime of battery.

The Elements of an Oakland, CA Battery Charge

The elements of a battery charge under California law are as follows:

  • You touched someone else – This includes any type of physical contact you might have made with another person. This does not require that you caused them physical bodily injury or harm. Even minor touching can warrant battery charges under California law.
  • You did so willfully – This means you touched someone on purpose. That doesn’t mean that you intended to hurt them or break the law. There does not need to be intent to commit battery for you to be found guilty.
  • You touched them in an offensive or harmful way – Any type of touching that may be rude, angry, violent, or disrespectful may be considered offensive or harmful under the California statute.

What’s the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

The phrase “Assault and Battery” is used often. Many people assume these charges are the same. However, California Penal Code § 240 clearly defines assault as the attempt to use force or act violently towards another person. But battery is the actual physical use of violence or force.

Battery-Related Crimes You Could Face

There are many types of crimes related to battery you could be charged with. These include:

  • Simple battery – You can be charged with simple battery under California Penal Code § 242 if you have been accused of unlawfully touching another person with force or violence.
  • Battery causing serious bodily injury – Under California Penal Code § 243(d), you could be charged with battery causing great bodily injury if the alleged victim was seriously injured. This is different from the aggravated battery charges you might be facing based on the type of injury the alleged victim endured.
  • Battery against the police officer – Battery against protected classes of persons is punishable under California Penal Code § 243(b) and 243(c)(2). These protected classes of persons include police, firefighters, animal control officers, emergency medical technicians, and other peace officers.
  • Domestic battery – Under California Penal Code § 243(e)(1), this includes battery against specific classes of people, including a spouse, former spouse, cohabitants, other people you may have a relationship with, parents, and other specific family members.
  • Sexual battery – This involves touching the “intimate parts“ of another person for arousal, sexual gratification, or abuse under California Penal Code § 243.4.
  • Elder abuse – California’s elder abuse statute, California Penal Code § 368, states that it is a crime to negligently or willfully cause physical or emotional harm to anyone 65 years old or older.

Penalties for Battery in Oakland, CA

The consequences of a battery conviction in Oakland, CA are often severe. Battery and other related crimes are usually charged as wobbler crimes. This means they can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. The decision on how the crime should be charged depends on the facts of the case.

For example, simple battery is generally a misdemeanor that carries a county jail term of up to six months and fines as high as $2,000. But if you have been charged with battery against a peace officer, you may be charged with a felony instead.

Here, you could face between two and four years in prison based on the details of your case. Similarly, domestic battery and sexual battery could be charged as misdemeanors or felonies.

Additional Consequences

In addition to jail or prison time, you could experience many other penalties for a battery conviction. These include:

  • Registration as a sex offender
  • Probation or parole requirements
  • Random drug or alcohol testing
  • Trouble finding safe housing
  • Child custody issues
  • Community service
  • Completion of substance abuse treatment
  • Completion of anger management courses
  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • Suspension or revocation of your professional licenses
  • Damage to your personal and professional reputations and relationships
  • Immigration or citizenship issues
  • Loss of firearm rights

These consequences can follow you long after your sentence is complete. That’s why a skilled Oakland, CA battery attorney is necessary to dismantle the prosecution’s case.

Building a Strong Battery Defense

Although you can be convicted of battery even when no one was harmed, you can still challenge the elements of the crime through a strong defense strategy.

Some possible defenses include:

You Were Not Acting Willfully

To be found guilty of battery, you must have acted willfully under California Penal Code § 242. This means if you accidentally caused someone else to suffer an injury, you should not be convicted for willfully causing them harm.

For example, if you accidentally struck someone in the head with a heavy object you were carrying, you should not be found guilty of battery because you didn’t intend to cause that person any harm.

You Were Acting in Self-Defense or Defense of Others

Acting in self-defense or the defense of others is a valid defense strategy if the following elements are met:

  • You had reasonable belief that immediate use of force was necessary to defend yourself or others
  • You had reasonable belief that you or someone else was in danger of suffering unlawful touching or serious bodily injury
  • You used only reasonably necessary force to defend yourself or others

You Had a Right to Reasonably Discipline Your Child

You might be surprised to find out how frequently parents are charged with criminal battery and other offenses related to child abuse in connection with the disciplining of their children.

As long as force is reasonable and not excessive given the specific circumstances, under California Penal Code § 273(d), parents have the right to use physical force to discipline their child.

Contact an Oakland, CA Battery Lawyer for Help Today

If you hope to avoid the devastating consequences of a battery conviction, you need to retain a solid criminal defense lawyer to fight for your freedom. Meet with an experienced battery lawyer in Oakland, CA to explore your legal options.

Contact Attorney Seth Morris at Morris Law today to schedule your confidential case evaluation. You can reach us by phone at 510-225-9955 or through our secured contact form to get started.