Have you been charged with Battery on a Peace officer in Northern California?
Contact an attorney today.
At Summit Defense Criminal Attorneys, our attorneys include a former police officer and former prosecutors, which means that we have valuable insider knowledge of how this offense is charged and prosecuted from the other side. We often defend cases of people wrongly accused of battery of a police officer. Unfortunately, it is common for police to use this charge in a variety of improper ways, for example:
- To punish offenders that they don’t like, or have a problem with;
- To cover up their heavy-handed tactics in making an arrest;
- To make an incident look more serious than it was, and therefore justify the police response; or
- Simply because they are on a ‘power trip’.
BATTERY ON PEACE OFFICER, DEFINITIONS, PENALTIES, ANALYSIS
What is battery on a peace/police officer?
Under California Penal Code 242, a battery is “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” So, it is illegal to use unlawful force or violence against anyone. However, the law classifies certain batteries as more serious, depending on the degree of injury caused or whether the alleged victim falls into a special category of person. These offenses are referred to as ‘aggravated battery’ offenses. One of the most common of these aggravated battery offenses is ‘battery of a peace officer’ under Penal Code 243(b) and 243(c)(2)– most commonly, battery of a police officer, or other law enforcement official.
The simple battery offense under Penal Code 242 is a misdemeanor. Battery of a peace officer, however, can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the offense.
The consequences of being charged and convicted of battery of a police officer are serious. A defendant is exposed to jail time, large fines, probation, and possibly having a felony on their record for life. Further, as an offense of violence, non-citizens are subject to deportation if convicted – which is why we have a specialist immigration attorney on our team, ready to assist in any case where a non-citizen’s immigration status is put at risk.
What if I go to court without a lawyer?
Having a lawyer is not only your right, but your best chance of fighting the case against you. Summit Defense Attorneys have handled many battery cases where we have been able to influence the process by presenting mitigating evidence to the DA to have charges dismissed or reduced.
Keep in mind that a charge of battery of a police officer puts you squarely against the police force. These cases not only have serious repercussions if you are convicted, but fighting them can be particularly challenging – in many cases, the reputation and actions of one or more police officers will be called into question. Your Summit Defense Attorney, however, will not shrink from the fight. We will speak to witnesses, collect evidence, and thoroughly prepare your case. This kind of work, and our reputation as winning trial attorneys, means that we are often successful in persuading the DA to dismiss charges at the pre-file stage. And if your case does go to trial, we will make sure that the judge and jury get the full picture.
What should I say to the police?
Nothing – you only have to tell them your name and address, and show some identification if requested. Other than that, it’s best to not say anything at all to the police – your lawyer will speak for you. If you are arrested, you or your family should contact Summit Defense Attorneys immediately – in an emergency, we’re available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you are arrested, the police are then required to tell you about your rights. These include your right to silence, and your right to a lawyer. These rights are important and you should take full advantage of them. But this offense if unique, in that it often arises in the course of a police action – such as an arrest, or when police are engaging in public order duties, such as at sporting events or protests. In those situations, it can be very hard to remain silent. That is especially so if you are being treated unfairly or violently by the police. But you should always try to exercise your right to silence, even in the aftermath of an arrest when you may be angry or upset.
We understand that being arrested, and then going through the booking process, can be scary and intimidating, and it’s natural for you to want to defend or explain yourself. Keep in mind, though, that nothing you say at that point is likely to stop the police from charging you. Summit Defense Attorneys defend many cases and it is almost never a good idea for a suspect to talk to the police – in fact, many people have hurt their cases by doing so.
At the very least, no matter what kind of allegation is being made against you, you should never answer any questions from the police without first getting legal advice, and you should always have an attorney present when speaking to the authorities. The early intervention of an experienced attorney is by far your most effective defense strategy.
SECTION B – ELEMENTS & DEFENSES
If I’m arrested, will I go to jail?
No, probably not – most criminal defendants are entitled to bail. In some cases, bail is not necessary and you can be released on your own recognizance. In other cases, bail will be required – and it may be set at a relatively high amount, depending on the totality of the charges you are facing.
Once the charging process is complete at the police station, the amount for bail will be set in accordance with the schedule that is applicable in that county. The amount required to secure your bail will depend on the number and seriousness of the charges filed against you. Once it is paid, you will be free to leave the custody of the police. If you are not able to immediately secure your release, we will do everything to ensure that you are released on bail as soon as possible following an arrest. Summit Defense’s first priority will be to use every effort to keep you out of custody.
Is battery of a peace officer a felony or a misdemeanor?
In California, battery of a peace officer can be treated as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the offense. The kinds of factors that the Prosecutor will look at when deciding whether to file the charge as a felony or a misdemeanor include:
- what injuries the alleged victim suffered, and how serious they were;
- what kind of medical attention was required;
- any criminal history of the defendant; and
- the circumstances surrounding the offence.
In many cases where we are involved in at the pre-file stage, we are able to present evidence and arguments that influence the Prosecutor’s decision. If, despite our best efforts, we are not able to completely prevent charges being filed, then we will always fight to have charges filed as misdemeanors – this is vital, because it limits our clients’ exposure to the most severe penalties. For example, in cases where we can demonstrate that the police were heavy-handed in their treatment of our client, we can often have the matter filed as a misdemeanor, if not completely dismissed.
What evidence will the Prosecutor use to try to prove a charge of battery of a peace officer?
To establish a charge of battery of a peace officer under Penal Code 243(b) against you, the Prosecutor must have evidence to prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:
- that the alleged victim was a peace officer (or other protected person), performing their duties;
- that you willfully and unlawfully touched the alleged victim in a harmful or offensive manner; and
- that when you acted, you knew, or reasonably should have known, that the alleged victim was a peace officer who was performing their duties.
In the case of an allegation of felony battery of a peace officer under Penal Code 243(c)(2) against you, the Prosecutor would have to prove the additional element:
- that the alleged victim suffered injury as a result of the touching.
Although aggravated battery offenses are most often charged in cases where the alleged victim is a police officer, the category of ‘peace officer’, and other protected persons, is much more broad, and includes:
- fire fighters;
- ambulance officers;
- doctors and nurses;
- traffic officers;
- animal control officers; and
- custodial officers.
Further, the Penal Code specifies that this offense can be committed against a peace officer whether they are on or off duty, and whether they are in uniform or not. A common example is when a police officer is working as a private security guard, but then performs some action consistent with his duties as a police officer, such as making an arrest. What is important, though, is the defendant’s knowledge of the alleged victim’s position – which is discussed in relation to the third element of the offense.
Performing the duties of a peace officer
This element is a very important aspect of this offense, because only officers who are actually doing their duties are covered by this offense. The inverse of this is that an officer who is acting outside of their lawful role is not. This can become a vital part of the case to contest if the lawfulness of the officer’s actions are in question – for example, if a police officer was engaged in illegal activity or making an unlawful arrest, then the defendant would be found not guilty of this offense.
The California Criminal Jury Instructions 9.23 outline that a police officer is engaged in the performance of their duties when:
- making or attempting to make a lawful arrest;
- accepting or exercising custody over person who has been subject to a citizen’s arrest;
- lawfully detaining or attempting to detail someone for questioning or investigation; and
- using reasonable force to effect a lawful arrest or detention.
Further, the Instructions specify that a firefighter is engaged in the performance of their duties when “engaged in firefighting, fire supervision, fire suppression, fire prevention, or fire investigation”. And a custodial officer is engaged in the performance of their duties when “maintaining custody of a prisoner or performing tasks related to the operation of a … detention facility.”
As you can see, there is a requirement that the officer is engaged in ‘lawful’ activities – arrest, detention, and so on. This means that if the officer was acting unlawfully, the offense cannot be proven. We discuss this aspect of the defense of those kinds of cases in more detail in the ‘Defenses’ section, below.
Willfully and unlawfully touched the alleged victim
The requirement that the touching be willful means that the Prosecutor must prove that, when you touched the alleged victim, you did it on purpose – not accidentally or inadvertently. An unlawful touching refers to touching done in a “rude or angry way. Making contact with another person, including through his or her clothing, is enough.” So, for example, if a police officer is lawfully arresting someone and they struggle with the officer, and while pulling their arm away hit the officer’s face, that may constitute a willful and unlawful ‘touching’. On the other hand, if the police officer is making a lawful arrest and the person inadvertently jerks their head and bumps the police officer’s head when reacting to some pain caused when the cuffs are applied, that would not be a willful or unlawful touching.
In the case of a Penal Code 243(b) offense, the touching does not have to cause pain or injury of any kind. However, in the case of an offense under Penal Code 243(c)(2), some injury must be proved – as seen in the additional and fourth element required.
Harmful or offensive manner
Again, this element refers to the way in which the ‘touching’ is done. To touch someone in a harmful or offensive manner does not mean that you injure them, but just requires that some kind of offensive contact occurs. Further, the contact does not have to be direct – it could be through the use of an object as well. This means that acts that are obviously harmful and offensive are covered – such as punching or kicking someone – as well as less obvious acts that don’t physically hurt someone, such as spitting or flicking.
Knew, or reasonably should have known, that the alleged victim was a peace officer who was performing their duties
This element involves judging the defendant’s behavior from an objective standpoint – that is, what would a reasonable person have known, in the circumstances? In some of these cases, this is an easy element for the Prosecutor to prove. Things that may indicate this include:
- if an officer is wearing their uniform;
- if the officer is doing some kind of obvious duty associated with their role, such as making an arrest or writing a ticket;
- if the officer is driving or got out of an official vehicle, such as a police car, or an ambulance.
If factors like this exist, then it can be easy to prove that the defendant knew – or at least reasonably should have known – that the person was a peace officer doing their job.
In other cases, however, this element is not so straightforward. For example, in one case that we defended, a police officer was off-duty and working as a private security guard at local shopping mall. Our client was involved in a dispute with another customer, and the officer decided to arrest our client and escort him from the mall. The officer was in the uniform of the private security firm, however, and did not identify himself as a police officer. So, even though he was a ‘peace officer’ as defined in this section of the Penal Code, in all of the circumstances it was impossible for our client to know that. This meant that the Prosecutor could not prove this element of the offense, and our client was subsequently acquitted of the charge.
Alleged victim suffered injury as a result of the touching
If the Prosecutor has filed the more serious charge of Penal Code 243(c)(2) aggravated battery of a police officer, or Penal Code 243(c)(1) aggravated battery of other protected persons, they will also need to prove that the alleged victim suffered some injury as a result of the battery.
‘Injury’ is defined in the California Criminal Jury Instructions as “any physical injury that requires professional medical treatment.” It does not matter whether the victim actually did get medical treatment – that can be considered, but the nature, extent, and seriousness of the injury is what is relevant. Further, the injury must be caused by the actions of the defendant.
For example, consider a police officer who is slapped in the face by a person he is trying to move out of a certain area during a protest. If the slap is quite light, and leaves a red mark, but does not require any kind of medical attention, the injury inflicted might not be serious enough to fit this definition. However, if the slap was so forceful that it caused the officer’s teeth to cut the inside of his lip, which bled profusely, it may be considered serious enough – whether the officer received medical treatment for the cut or not.
What is the difference between assault and battery in California?
We very often hear the terms ‘assault’ and ‘battery’ used together, or interchangeably, but they are actually different offenses. In California, the important distinction to keep in mind is that any battery offense under Penal Code 242 and 243 requires proof of unlawful touching that is done in a harmful and offensive manner. On the other hand, in any kind of assault offense under Penal Code 240 and 241, it is enough for the Prosecutor to prove that the defendant acted in a way which might have inflicted physical harm or unwanted touching on someone else – even if no contact was ever actually made with that person.
In cases where the defendant is accused of battery of a police officer, other charges might also be considered, depending on the facts of the case. These other charges can become relevant in two ways – firstly, the authorities will sometimes charge people with other offenses because they believe that there is evidence that more than one offense was committed. For example, it is very common in these cases for the police to allege that the defendant was also resisting arrest at the time that the battery on the officer occurred.
Secondly, in situations where the case against the accused person for battery on a peace officer is not particularly strong – for example, the prosecution may not have very strong evidence to prove that the defendant should have known the victim was a peace officer – then, depending on the circumstances of the case, the Prosecutor may file additional charges, as a kind of back up. In some cases where there is room for negotiation they may not be willing to drop the charges altogether but they may accept a plea to a lesser charge – this can save a defendant time in prison, or the permanent scar of a felony conviction. In those kinds of situations, however, you need a lawyer from Summit Defense Attorneys to negotiate with the Prosecutor on your behalf – we are experts in this area of law, and we can often intervene on your behalf before charges are formally filed.
There are various assault offenses under Penal Code 240 and 241. ‘Simple’ assault is always a misdemeanor, and usually treated less severely than battery.
There are also various battery offenses, under Penal Code 242 and 243. ‘Simple’ battery – that is, one that does not result in injury and where the victim was not in a class of protected people – is always filed as a misdemeanor, and is treated less seriously than battery on a police officer. However, in cases under Penal Code 243(d) where serious bodily injury is alleged, the offense is elevated to a felony.
This is a misdemeanor offense under Penal Code 148(a)(1), which makes it illegal to resist, delay, or obstruct an officer who is trying to effect an arrest – or, in fact, carry out any other of their lawful duties. This charge commonly appears in cases where battery on a police officer is alleged, because the police often claim that the defendant committed a battery while they were trying to arrest him or her.
Disturbing the peace
The offense of disturbing the peace is found in Penal Code 415. It relates to activities such as unlawful fighting, unreasonably loud noise, and using offensive language – so it does not really have anything to do with the offense of battery on a police officer. However, it is a relatively minor offense that is filed as a misdemeanor and, in some cases, can be dealt with as a less serious infraction. This means that it is often a charge that is considered when negotiating a plea bargain.
What defenses can I use to fight a charge of battery of a police officer?
I didn’t do it!
Police officers can, and do, falsely accuse people of this offense. Maybe you did not touch the officer at all, maybe your actions were involuntary, or maybe the police officer misinterpreted your actions – whatever the case, we will work to clear your name.
Summit Defense Attorneys know from experience that victims do lie, and that innocent people have been falsely accused or wrongly convicted as a result. This can happen for many reasons – some police lie to protect themselves or another officer, or falsely accuse someone out of anger or a desire for revenge.
As we noted earlier, because this offense is most often allegedly committed against police officers, it can be a very difficult charge to defend. It is not uncommon for police to ‘close ranks’ and make sure that they all tell the same story in their statements – it takes an attorney who is particularly skilled in deconstructing the evidence, and finding the holes in the police case, to get through that kind of collusion.
It was an accident!
To prove this offense, the Prosecutor must show that you acted willfully – that is, that you touched the police officer on purpose. This means that if your harmful contact with the officer was accidental or unintentional, then the charge must fail.
We have seen people charged in cases of accidental ‘battery’, especially when incidents occur in crowded or heated circumstances. For example, consider a case we defended where our client got into a fight with another young man at a crowded outdoor music festival. There were a lot of people around, who had been drinking, and there was loud music playing. By the time the police working at the festival arrived on the scene, other festival go-ers were surrounding and ‘egging on’ the two men who were yelling at and shoving each other. The police rushed in and grabbed our client from behind, attempting to restrain him. Our client could not hear the officers identify themselves, and because he was grabbed from behind, he did not know who was restraining him. He attempted to free himself from the officer and, in doing so, lashed out and pushed the officer’s sunglasses into his face and left eye. He was then pushed to the ground, at which time he did hear the officer identify himself, so he stopped struggling and let the officer cuff him and lead him away.
Our client contacted us the next day, and we got to work immediately. One of our client’s friends had filmed part of the fight, and the arrival of the police, on his cellphone, so we immediately copied and secured that video. We also collected positive character information about our client, took statements from other friends that were at the festival with him, and made contact with the DA. We were able to take this body of evidence to the Prosecutor that was dealing with the matter, and point out the difficulty that they would have in proving that our client acted ‘willfully’ when he lashed out at the police officer, as well as the fact that they would have trouble showing that our client even initially knew the person who restrained him was a police officer. Given the video and witness statements that we had collected, the police officers involved had to agree that our client did comply with their directions and his arrest once he was on the ground. In the circumstances, the DA finally agreed that it would be useless to file any charges against our client.
Insufficient evidence and reasonable doubt
In every criminal case, the prosecution must prove all elements of the charge beyond reasonable doubt. However, a lack of evidence does not always stop charges from being filed. In these cases, especially those where no serious injury is required, or police actions are questionable, it can be easy for charges to be filed without sufficient proof, and based only on the word of the police officer (and his colleagues) against the accused.
Our attorneys include ex-police officers and an ex- District Attorney – this experience on the other side means that we know how common it is for charges to be pursued where evidence is weak, or where the case is built only on the word of the police against the word of the accused. And we know how daunting it can seem to be one person against several police officers. It’s very tempting to think, “Who is going to believe me, when all of these police are saying the same thing?!” But a Summit Defense attorney will be on your side, will always insist that the prosecution meet their burden of proving any charge beyond reasonable doubt, and will not let baseless charges stand.
A lack of evidence, or a lack of evidence strong enough to support a charge beyond reasonable doubt, is one of the most common defenses relied upon. As demonstrated by the case of our client at the music festival, described above, the police do not always present a case that tells the full story. If the evidence that the Prosecutor is relying upon in your case is not adequate, Summit Defense Attorneys will challenge the prosecution case and make sure that you are not unjustly convicted.
I was acting in self-defense/defense of another person!
Summit Defense Attorneys have defended many cases where our client acted in self-defense. In the case of a charge of battery of a peace officer, however, there are two specific circumstances in which a claim of self-defense or defense of another most often arises. They are:
- If the officer was using unreasonable or excessive force; and
- If the officer was making, or attempting to make, an unlawful arrest.
A defense along these lines directly calls into question the behavior of the police, and alleges that it did not meet the lawful and proper standards that are required of all officers. To mount this kind of defense, you should have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side who is not only familiar with self-defense cases, but who is also familiar with the duties and obligations of the police. Summit Defense Attorneys include an ex-police officer, as well as former prosecutors, so we know how these cases work from both sides – and therefore, how best to defend them and win.
The basic law of self-defense or defense of another remains the same in these cases. Once you raise the issue as a defendant, the Prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were not acting in self-defense. As set out in the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, the law provides that a defendant acted in lawful self-defense if:
- The defendant reasonably believed that they were in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or of being touched unlawfully;
- The defendant reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger; and
- The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.
In deciding whether the defendant’s belief that they were in imminent danger was reasonable, the court must look at all of the circumstances. In many ‘battery of a peace officer’ cases, the circumstances can elevate the emotion and fear – many people find the police threatening, especially those who have had previously bad experiences with the police, or whose communities are targeted by law enforcement activities. Other circumstances could include a crowded public event, a heated argument or dispute with the officers before they try to make an arrest, the police using particularly aggressive language or tactics, or the police arriving on the scene of an already dramatic incident. If a case like this goes to trial, your attorney will make sure that the judge or jury is aware of all of the relevant factors so as they can assess whether you responded reasonably or not.
In the end, once the defense has been raised, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in lawful self-defense. Otherwise, the defendant must be found not guilty of the offense. Let’s look at the two specific instances of police misconduct that can give rise to this defense.
Firstly, the use of unreasonable or excessive force by a peace officer. The law very clearly states that it is not an offense to use force to defend yourself against a police officer who is being heavy-handed or unreasonably violent towards you. This is because, even though the police are allowed to use force when making arrests, detaining people, and otherwise carrying out their duties, they are only allowed to use force that is reasonable in the circumstances. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for police to step over that line – they have a plethora of weapons at their command, and they are trained to physically restrain people, and that can spill over into brutal treatment of defendants. But when that happens, the police are not ‘doing their duty’ – so you can’t be found guilty of battery of a police officer.
In the case of People v. Soto (1969), the Court stated, “it is a public offense for a peace officer to use unreasonable and excessive force in effecting an arrest… Therefore, a person who uses reasonable force to protect himself or others against the use of unreasonable excessive force in making an arrest is not guilty of any crime.” So, if it is shown that you were using reasonable force to protect yourself against the unreasonable or excessive force of a police officer, you must be found not guilty.
Secondly, when the police are making, or attempting to make, an unlawful arrest. Again, this is a situation where a defendant is able to raise this defense because the police were over-stepping the line when it comes to performing their duties. In People v. White (1980), the California Court of Appeals said, when addressing this very question, “That portion of section 243 of the Penal Code which raises battery, a misdemeanor, to felony status where the victim is a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties, does not come into play where the officer makes an illegal arrest, simply because ‘[a]n officer is under no duty to make an unlawful arrest.”
If you use some kind of harmful or offensive physical contact to resist an unlawful arrest, you will not be able to be found guilty of battery on a peace officer – although, technically, you may be found guilty of simple battery or assault. However, in many cases where we are able to bring this kind of police misconduct and incompetence to the attention of the DA, we are able to persuade them to drop the case altogether.
In one recent case that we defended, our client was attending a sporting match. Other fans around him were unhappy with his behavior, and complained to the police who were on duty. Even though the police had not seen our client do anything wrong, nor were there any complaints of violence against our client, the police decided to immediately arrest him and escort him from the grounds. Our client was initially confronted by three officers, who told him to come with them. Believing that he had done nothing wrong, and wanting to watch the rest of the game, our client refused and said that he’d sit down and be quiet. The officers became angry at our client, and continued to insist that he come with them. An argument began, and our client was pulled by one of the officers from his seat and into the aisle.
Our client continued protesting, saying things like, “Why are you grabbing me? I’ve done nothing wrong!” The police officer holding him twisted his arm behind his back, and the officers continued to tell him that he was ‘disturbing the peace’ and had to be removed. Because of a shoulder injury that he was still recovering from, our client was immediately in pain when his arm was twisted behind his back. He yelled at the officers to stop, and told them they were hurting him. He began struggling to remove himself from the painful hold. The police officers reacted to this by forcing our client to the ground, and calling for back up. He was restrained on the steps in the aisle by up to five officers, with both hands twisted behind his back, cuffs applied, the knees of at least two officers in his back and on the back of his legs, and another officer holding his head down with two hands. He was screaming, in pain, and struggling to breathe. In the struggle, two officers alleged that he kicked them. The police then carried him, still struggling and in pain, up the aisle and to a private room in the back of the stadium.
As a result of this incident, our client suffered bruising over his body, and serious aggravation of his shoulder injury. But he was charged with disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, and battery of the two police officers that he supposedly kicked. When our attorney heard our client’s story, he was disgusted by the brutal police behavior. We assured him that he had a valid defense to the charges, and began building the defese by:
- Collecting medical evidence, including photographs and specialist reports, about our client’s injuries;
- Subpoenaing police records, which revealed that one of the main officers involved had a previous record of using excessive force in making arrests;
- Obtaining a copy of security footage from the stadium;
- Contacting the DA who was dealing with the case, and alerting them to the police misconduct in the case and the very strong defense our client had.
We also assisted our client in filing a complaint against the officers in question. The first prosecutor that we dealt with thought the police actions appropriate, and did not want to discuss the matter any further. However, in the face of such blatant police misconduct, we insisted on dealing with a more senior DA. In the circumstances, that DA was persuaded that the police actions were excessive, and that our client would have a winning defense if the matter went to trial. She agreed to dismiss all of the charges against our client
SECTION C – PENALTIES
What are the penalties for battery of a peace officer?
The penalties in battery cases vary widely, and will always depend on the kind of offense charged and the exact circumstances of the offense. Whether or not the defendant has a criminal history, or a history of previous violence offenses, will also affect the severity of the penalty imposed.
Of course, penalties are only of concern if a defendant is actually convicted of an offense. At Summit Defense, our aim in every case is always the complete dismissal of all charges and we will do everything possible to avoid a conviction in your case. However, in cases where a conviction cannot be avoided, Summit Defense Attorneys will fight to minimize consequences. In many cases we can do things like:
- Get charges reduced to lesser offense/s;
- Achieve a sentence of a short probation period;
- Seek counseling and jail alternatives; and
- Enroll our clients in diversion programs.
If, despite our best efforts, you are convicted of battery of a police officer, the penalties are set out below.
Penal Code 243(b) misdemeanor battery of a peace officer
In this offense, where no injury is alleged, the maximum penalties are:
- misdemeanor probation;
- a fine of up to $2,000;
- one year in the county jail; or
- both a fine and jail time.
Penal Code 243(c)(1) battery of a protected person not a peace officer
This offense is concerned with battery where an injury is suffered by someone in the broader class of protected people, but not a police officer etc (so, for example, a firefighter or lifeguard). It can be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on all of the circumstances of the offense, and the defendant’s criminal history (if there is one).
If this offense is charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalties include:
- a fine of up to $2,000;
- one year in the county jail; or
- both a fine and jail time.
If charged as a felony, maximum penalties are:
- a fine of up to $10,000;
- imprisonment in the State prison for 16 months, 2 , or 3 years; or
- both a fine and imprisonment.
Penal Code 243(c)(2) battery of a police officer etc.
This offense concerns battery that causes injury to a police officer, or other peace officer. This is always filed as a felony, and the maximum penalties include:
- a fine of up to $10,000;
- imprisonment in the State prison for 1 to 3 years; or
- both a fine and imprisonment.
Penal Code 243(d) felony battery
Although not a charge that concerns any class of protected people, this is an aggravated battery offense because it alleges that ‘serious bodily injury’ was inflicted on the victim. This is a felony, and the maximum penalties are:
- a fine of up to $10,000;
- imprisonment in the State prison for 2, 3, or 4 years; or
- both a fine and imprisonment.
Keep in mind that all of these penalties are the maximum possible sentences. In every case, the judge will consider many factors before passing sentence. This includes the nature of the offense itself and any criminal history, and the specific circumstances of each case. Some of the things that the judge will consider are known as aggravating and mitigating circumstances – these are factors that might either increase (aggravate) or decrease (mitigate) the eventual sentence.
There are some common factors that can occur in battery cases – for example, if alcohol or drug use was associated with the offense, and you voluntarily enter into a treatment program, then your attorney may persuade the judge to take that into account as a mitigating circumstance. On the other hand, if the battery was committed in the course of some other illegal activities by the defendant, then that might be considered an aggravating circumstance. However, every case is different and every defendant is unique – an experienced Summit Defense attorney will best know how to put together a positive case on sentencing that brings together as many mitigating circumstances as possible, and reduces the negative effect of any aggravating circumstances.
What other consequences can occur as a result of being convicted battery of a peace officer?
Besides the possible penalties of imprisonment, fines, and probation, a battery conviction exposes a defendant to other serious consequences. These include a permanent criminal record, issues with your immigration status, and being forced to give up or sell your guns. These are important reason why the first goal of Summit Defense Attorneys, in any case, is the full dismissal of all charges.
Immigration status jeopardized
A conviction for a battery offense – as a violent offense – can have particularly serious consequences for non-citizens, including the threat of deportation. We know that a conviction can have tragic consequences – jobs can be lost, families can be ripped apart, and people lose their opportunity to remain in the US.
If you are a non-citizen, on a visa, or hoping to apply for a Green Card, then you need Summit Defense – we are the only criminal defense firm in the Bay Area with a specialized immigration attorney on our team, which means we are able to provide our non-citizen clients with the best representation by taking into account all of their needs.
Give up or sell your guns
In California, many misdemeanor convictions, and all felony convictions, will result in some form of ban on gun ownership under the Penal Code, as well as other State and Federal laws. This may require you to sell your guns and provide proof of that sale to the police, or hand your guns over to the police to keep until the order ends. In many cases, you will not be allowed to own a gun ever again.
This is fairly complex area of law, because both Federal and state laws apply – and, where Federal and California laws conflict, the Federal law must be followed. Further, the courts have held that these bans do not violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms. If you are concerned about the preservation of your gun ownership rights, you should consult an attorney as soon as you are accused of any kind of criminal offense – especially offenses involving violence, or the use of firearms.
 Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, Instruction 945.
 Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, Instruction 945.
 Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, Instruction 3470.
 People v. Soto (1969) 276 Cal.App.2d 81
 People v. White (1980) 101 Cal.App.3d 161