California law defines the crime of battery as willful and unlawful use of force, or violence, against another person. In many situations the State of California charges assault and battery together, but a person need not be charged with assault to receive a conviction for battery. There are varying degrees of severity for a charge of battery, and when the victim has suffered “serious bodily injury,” the prosecutor can elevate the charge against the defendant. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we understand that a potential charge for battery, whether misdemeanor or felony, can be overwhelming. We are skilled in the nuances of California assault and battery law, and focus on helping our clients seek to receive a fair outcome according to the specific circumstances of their case. If you or someone close to you needs a San Bernardino or Riverside County assault and battery defense attorney, we are ready to advocate on your behalf.
A battery charge under California law is typically brought under Penal Code section 242 for “simple battery.” The victim of a battery need not suffer harm, but the defendant must have intended to touch the victim in a harmful manner. To bring a more serious charge for battery causing serious bodily harm under California Penal Code section 243(d), the State is required to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant willfully touched another person, and that the victim suffered serious bodily injury as a result. Like in simple battery cases, the evidence must show that the defendant intended to touch the victim in a harmful or offensive manner. In some cases, offensive contact may be seen as rude or angry, or disrespectful. As to evidence of intent, if the defendant was shouting or angry before touching the victim, that may be deemed an intention to harm.
Whether “serious bodily injury” occurred is to be determined by the trier of fact, either the judge or jury. Because the charge of battery causing serious bodily injury requires the victim have suffered more than minor, or even moderate injury, like most crimes, the facts of the case dictate the charge. Some common examples of serious bodily injury include a stabbing wound, a gunshot wound, broken bones, unconsciousness, disfigurement, and impaired organ function. However, the injury does not have to have been medically treated in order to be considered “serious” under the law.
Penalties for battery causing serious bodily injury have a range because the prosecutor can charge the crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Common penalties for either a misdemeanor or felony charge may include fines, incarceration, community service, probation, and restitution. For example, a conviction for felony battery can lead to prison time from 2 to 4 years, up to $10,000 in fines, and formal probation, along with other consequences. A misdemeanor conviction can include up to one year of incarceration or county jail time, up to $2,000 in fines, restitution to the victim, and other consequences, such as required anger management or counseling.
Receiving a felony battery charge under California Penal Code section 243(d) is a serious offense. If the defendant is convicted of a felony, it may be challenging to secure employment as the battery conviction will be evident on a permanent record. A felony conviction may also lead to the loss of civil rights, such as the right to own a firearm.
Since the element of intent is essential to the crime of battery causing serious bodily injury, when the facts demonstrate that the defendant did not intend to cause harm, this may be a strong defense. For example, if the battery was a mistake, or an accident, this may counter the prosecution's claim that the defendant intended the harm. For example, if you were maneuvering through a crowd and accidentally collided with the victim, who then fell and hit their head, this is not battery. The State must prove all elements of the criminal case, and when the evidence shows that the defendant did not have the state of mind necessary to the crime, the charge may be dismissed.
In some cases alleging battery causing serious bodily injury, the victim may in fact not have suffered serious bodily injury. If their harm was minor, and their medical records indicate that they were only bruised, for example, this negates the level of injuries required for the charge. It may be necessary for a defense medical expert to testify in this case, and a skilled attorney will be capable of understanding the importance of medical records to the crime of battery.
Finally, as in many criminal cases, if a police investigation or the circumstances of the defendant’s arrest demonstrate that their constitutional rights may have been violated, they may have a strong defense to the battery charge. In this situation, excluding evidence from the trial that was obtained unlawfully may result in a reduction or dismissal of charges against the defendant.
The consequences of being charged with battery causing serious bodily injury are potentially dire. By consulting an experienced attorney, you are taking the first step to protecting your legal rights and your future. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we are available 24/7 to help you understand your legal rights and assert a strong defense on your behalf. Every client throughout Riverside and San Bernardino County presents a different set of facts, and we make it a priority to seek a fair outcome for every client. Your future is at stake, and we are here to help. Contact us to discuss the details of your assault or battery case by calling (951) 686-3457 or contacting us online. We are proud to help people throughout areas including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Temecula, and Moreno Valley, Indio, Highland, Fonatana, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, San Bernardino, and Victorville.