Battery is a charge that can be used for anything from the smallest shove at a nightclub to a serious physical altercation. Unfortunately, it can carry serious consequences no matter how minor the offense. If you or someone you love has been arrested for battery in Los Angeles, you need legal help.
The Los Angeles battery defense attorneys at Simmrin Law Group are here to help. Contact us by filling out the form to the right or giving us a call. You can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team today.
What Exactly Is Battery?
Battery is any use of force on another person. Under California Penal Code §242, three main elements must be present for a situation to constitute battery:
- The assailant must have applied force or violence.
- The action must have been carried out upon another person.
- The action must have been performed willfully and without any lawful reason.
This means that any offensive touching or use of force can count as battery even if no one was hurt. As a result, aggressive pushing and shoving are often charged as battery. When the battery does result in an injury, you can be charged with a more serious battery offense, and with tougher penalties.
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What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?
Many people use these words to mean the same thing or even combine them into the phrase assault & battery. However, in California, assault is a separate charge from battery. Under California law, assault is the attempt to injure another person while battery is the actual use of force on another person.
Because battery involves actual physical contact, the penalties for a simple battery charge are generally higher than those for a simple assault charge. However, there are many circumstances where both charges can carry more severe consequences, depending on what exactly occurred.
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What Are the Penalties for Battery in Los Angeles?
If no one was seriously hurt, you are likely to be charged with “simple battery.” This charge is a misdemeanor in California. The penalties for simply battery include:
- Up to six months in county jail
- Up to $2,000 in fines
- Summary probation
However, if your attack involved a police officer, firefighter, or another officer of the law, you will be charged with a more serious offense. If the officer was injured, you could even face a felony charge. And if your battery caused serious injuries, you will face an aggravated battery charge with more severe penalties.
Battery Involving a Peace Officer
If you have been accused of knowingly committing battery against a peace officer, the potential jail time could double to up to one year.
If the offense resulted in an injury, it becomes a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If prosecuted as a felony, you could be looking at up to three years in prison.
Battery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury
If an attack resulted in serious bodily injury to the victim, the battery will be charged under Penal Code §243(d). This offense is also known as “aggravated battery.” Like injuring a peace officer, this charge is also a wobbler.
For a misdemeanor conviction, the potential jail time is up to one year in jail. However, for a felony conviction, you could be looking at as many as four years behind bars.
Other Consequences for Battery in Los Angeles
There are many other consequences that you may face if convicted on a battery charge. In the state of California, any battery charge can lead to your gun rights being revoked for ten years. If processed as a felony, you are looking at a lifetime ban on buying or owning firearms.
Additionally, you could be forced to attend anger management courses and pay restitution to victims for their injuries.
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Can You Be Sued for Battery?
Yes. In addition to criminal charges, you could also face a civil lawsuit from the victim for any damages they sustained. It is possible for a battery victim to file a lawsuit and win, even if the criminal case results in a “not guilty” verdict.
The reason for this is that the standard of proof is far lower in a civil case than in a criminal case. In a criminal trial, the defendant’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in a civil case, the plaintiff only has to prove that the alleged batterer is more likely guilty than not. Because of this, hiring a Los Angeles violent crimes lawyer can be even more important in a civil case.
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Does Battery Count as a Strike in California?
California’s Three Strikes Law can mean life in prison for repeat offenders. You can receive a strike for any violent or serious felony, and three strikes can land you behind bars for the rest of your life. A simple battery conviction will not count against you under this law. However, if charged as a felony, a conviction for an aggravated battery can result in a strike under this law.
What Defenses Can You Use Against a Battery Charge?
There are many ways to defend against a battery case. Your lawyer will go over the specifics of your case with you, and they will advise you of the defense that has the highest chance of winning in your situation. The three most common, effective arguments used against a charge of battery are:
- The accident defense
The Accident Defense
This defense is perhaps the most effective in many cases. Remember that the definition of battery includes “willful” use of force.
What if the use of force was not willful? If you can show this, you have not committed a battery. As a result, you should not face conviction.
An accident could include something completely involuntary, like a car crash. It could also be a situation where you accidentally threw something at another person when you meant to only wave it at them. It can also apply to accidentally tripping or shoving someone in a crowded area or many other cases.
If the person you committed “battery” against was playing sports with you or was involved in another high-risk activity, they legally consented to the risk of injury. Because of this, any incident is not battery.
In many cases, you may have been reacting to an attack on yourself or someone else. If this is the case, your “battery” was in self-defense, and it is not battery at all. In this situation, you should not face conviction.
If the other party struck you first or were about to do so, it counts as self-defense. However, if they taunted you or otherwise baited you into an attack, this is not a justification for battery. Self-defense claims are complicated, and we can help you understand whether this might apply in your case.
While these are the most common defenses used in a battery case, this list is far from exhaustive. You need to talk to a battery defense lawyer in Los Angeles to learn more about your options.
Can a Battery Charge Be Expunged?
As long as your battery charge does not result in a prison sentence, you may be able to get the charge expunged from your record. Before you can get your expunged, you must first complete all of the terms of your sentence, including any jail time and probationary period.
While having a charge expunged from your record will not completely erase all traces of your conviction, it will benefit you in many ways. One of the biggest benefits of expungement is when you are looking for a new job. In California, you will not have to disclose a conviction when applying for a job if it has been expunged from your record.
A Los Angeles battery defense attorney can help you get your record expunged quickly and get your life back on track.
What if You Were Drunk When the Battery Occurred?
Many battery cases involve alcohol or other intoxicants. It could be that things got too heated while drinking, and it led to an altercation or, alternatively, you may have done something while drunk that wasn’t meant to hurt anybody at all, such as throwing a beer bottle or knocking over a chair. Nonetheless, if the item ends up hitting someone, it can count as battery.
Unfortunately, intoxication is not usually a defense in battery cases because California does not recognize “voluntary intoxication” as an excuse from responsibility. In other words, when you willingly choose to consume alcohol, you do so knowing that it may result in poor judgment and reduced inhibitions. Because of this, you are still responsible for the consequences.
That doesn’t mean you can’t win your case, however. Your situation may qualify for the “accident” defense or could be defended on other grounds.
Talk to a Los Angeles Battery Defense Attorney for Free Today
If you have been charged with battery, we can help you work through your case and get the best outcome possible. We defend our clients as if they are members of our own family.
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team today by giving us a call or filling out our online contact form. One of our Los Angeles battery attorneys will review your case and begin helping you build your defense.