How Does Penal Code Section 242 Define Battery?
To meet the legal definition of “simple battery” under California Penal Code section 242, three conditions must be present to prove battery has occurred. The offending event must be unlawful with the intent to inflict injury; using force or violence; upon another’s person. In some cases, this contact, touching or force may be indirect but be as a result of the actions of the accused, such as throwing an object at a person. For example, a charge of battery could be applied if a person is injured because someone in a bar throws a beer bottle in the air. The act could be considered “willful,” even if the actor was intoxicated and unaware of the harm this action could cause.
What Is The Difference Between Assault and Battery?
People are often confused by the terms “assault” and “battery” and will often consider them both the same. However, they are not the same. The term assault refers to an attempt made to cause injury to another person. Battery is defined as the illegal use of force or violence upon another. The key difference is that in order to be considered a battery, there needs to be an element of physical contact, unlike an assault where there need not be an injury or involvement of some sort of physical contact.
How Will The Prosecutor Attempt To Prove Battery?
In order to prove that the accused is guilty of battery, the prosecution will need to prove that the defendant acted unlawfully and willfully by using force, violence, or a harmful or offensive touch. The touch could be caused either through direct or indirect contact whether by an object or another person. This is regardless of whether the victim was injured or suffered pain as a result of the accused’s actions.
Why Would Someone Be Accused of Battery?
In order for the charge to qualify under California Penal Code section 242, the defendant’s actions would have to be considered as willful and there was intent for the act to be carried out. Any type of touching, whether direct or indirect can be considered battery if it was intentional.
Legal Defenses If You Are Charged With Battery
Common defenses that can be used to act as a defense against a battery charge include:
- Defending yourself or others. The defendant cannot be convicted of battery if they were defending themselves or others against the accuser. There has to be reasonable belief that the defendant or other person was in danger of being physically harmed. Their response to this danger would be the need to use force that would be considered appropriate to fight off the threatened attack.
- Accidental Circumstances. This defense would be used if it could be proven that the accused did not act in a willful manner to inflict injury or force upon another person.
Examples of an accident may include:
o Vehicular accident
o Unintentional collision of bicycles
o Having dropped an object from a window accidentally that falls on another
o Shoving or tripping another by accident on a crowded street or public transportation
- Consent. This defense can be used if the injured knowingly engages in a sport or activity in which there is a known and acceptable risk of battery. This could apply to full contact sports.
Unacceptable defenses include:
- Voluntary intoxication. A defendant cannot claim that they are innocent of battery because they were voluntarily intoxicated. Under the law, the defendant is expected to understand that even though they may have voluntarily consumed alcohol or drugs, they are still legally responsible for their actions, despite being impaired. If it can be proved that the defendant was involuntarily intoxicated, they can be found not guilty because they did not willingly consume the intoxicating substances.
- Provocation. The defendant cannot claim that they were provoked to commit battery for reasons other than they were physically threatened or an attempt was made to cause physical injury on their person. Offensive words or actions do not constitute an acceptable reason for battery.
Consequences of a Battery Conviction
Severe penalties may be imposed if you are convicted of battery. These include a fine up to $2,000 and/or up to six months of confinement in the county jail. You may also be required to complete anger management classes with a mental health profession.
How We Can Help
A Los Angeles battery attorney at the Law Offices of Jeff Voll has the relationships, experience, resources, and knowledge necessary to identify the defenses in your case and get you the best result possible. We will help you fight your case. When we fight, you win. Call us at 323-467-6400.