Many of us have been in the same situation as two women were recently at the Colma Nordstrom Rack. One woman was standing at the checkout line in front of a 27-year-old mother. The mother’s child, a preschooler, was making too much noise for woman in line, so she asked the mother to quiet the child down. The two women entered into a brief verbal argument and that could have been the end, as they say, of that. However, the woman alleges that the mother followed her out to the parking lot and proceeded to punch her at least twice in the face. The mother (whose shall remain anonymous in order to protect her identity) was charged with felony battery (CA Penal Code 243(d)) ‘Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury’ or ‘Aggravated Battery.’ What should be noted in this case is that it is being treated as a felony and that woman’s injuries are considered to be ‘serious’ enough to warrant such a move by prosecutors in the case.
In California, ‘battery’ is defined as the use of violence or force against another person, not just the use of threats (that would be considered ‘assault). Normally, simple battery is treated as a misdemeanor and a conviction under CA Penal Code 242 would mean a $2,000 fine and a maximum sentence of 6 months in county. The crime of battery only becomes ‘aggravated battery’ when there is ‘serious bodily injury.’ However, serious bodily injury (though sounding quite ominous indeed) could mean something as simple as a broken bone. This particular crime is a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it could be treated either as a misdemeanor or as a felony, at the discretion of the prosecutor. If convicted, this mom could face anywhere from 2-4 years in state prison, away from her child.