Battery is a violent crime according to California law, and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. A conviction for misdemeanor battery can carry lifelong negative consequences. While the length of imprisonment and potential fine may not be as severe as with a felony battery conviction, a criminal record for a violent crime often deters future employers, landlords, and others that conduct a background check. Consulting skilled legal counsel when facing battery charges is the first step toward protecting your legal rights. San Bernardino and Riverside assault and battery defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings represents people accused of both felony and misdemeanor battery, in addition to other crimes including sex offenses, drug offenses, and domestic violence. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we investigate all extenuating circumstances that may help reduce or dismiss criminal charges, and aggressively pursue justice on behalf of our clients.Misdemeanor Battery Elements and Potential Penalties Under California Law
California law defines battery under Penal Code section 242 as willful or unlawful force or violence used on another person. Misdemeanor battery, also known as traditional “simple” battery, may be punished by a fine not exceeding $2,000 dollars, and/or by imprisonment in jail for a maximum of six months. It is important to understand that the crime of battery may be charged even if the victim was not injured.
When a battery victim does suffer injury, the criminal charge may rise to battery causing serious bodily injury, which can be filed as a felony. These penalties include two, three, or four years in prison, in addition to a potential fine and formal probation. Battery on a peace officer and domestic battery are specified in the California Penal Code separately, and also carry severe penalties. Misdemeanor battery is a violent crime, and while the length of potential imprisonment is less than for a felony battery, it remains a serious conviction.
Battery is charged by degree, but regardless of the severity of the charge, the burden remains on the State of California to prove that the defendant’s actions met all elements of the crime. The prosecuting attorney must demonstrate “beyond a reasonable doubt,” that the defendant is guilty of the crime. In order to meet this burden, the state sets forth legally admissible evidence that supports a finding of guilt by a reasonable person. Evidence must be obtained in a way that did not violate the defendant’s rights, or the defendant may formally ask the court to exclude this evidence at trial.
The circumstances surrounding a defendant’s battery charge, from the investigation of the alleged crime to the arrest, often lend themselves to a strong criminal defense. If law enforcement gathered evidence in violation of the defendant’s rights, or arrested the defendant unlawfully, these may constitute defenses to the battery charge. A criminal defense attorney will make a motion to exclude from trial all evidence obtained unlawfully. Often, this leads to a reduction or dismissal of battery charges.
For all criminal charges, if the defendant lacked the requisite state of mind for the crime, charges cannot stand. Because the crime of battery requires intent, a battery committed by mistake or accident does not satisfy this element. For example, a defendant who inadvertently shoved a woman at a concert when attempting to move toward the stage may not have harbored the intent to hurt her through actual force. An experienced criminal defense attorney will understand how best to assert your legal defenses to misdemeanor battery charges.Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer Serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties
Attorney Gregory H. Comings represents the criminally accused throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, including those facing charges for battery, assault, and other violent crimes. By building a thorough defense dependent on the circumstances of the case, Mr. Comings works to protect his clients’ rights. Throughout the legal process, Attorney Comings will ensure that you know the status of your case. Call us today to learn more about how we can help. We can be reached online or at (951) 686-3457. Our office represents people throughout areas including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Highland, Moreno Valley, Temecula, Fontana, and Redlands.