The California PC 243(b) and Penal Code 243(c) make it a criminal offense to commit battery on a peace officer or a police officer. You may commit this crime if you intentionally and unlawfully touch a peace officer or another protected person in an offensive or harmful manner. You will only face charges under these statutes if you touch an officer engaged in the commission of their official duties. A battery on a peace officer is a misdemeanor or felony crime, usually punishable by jail time in county jail and fines. The judge may also recommend summary probation instead of jail time. If you commit battery on a peace officer, Chula Vista Criminal Attorney can help you build a solid defense to fight your charges.
What The Prosecutor Should Prove
Before accusing you of battery on a peace officer, the prosecutor should prove several elements to show that you indeed committed the crime:
- The victim of the crime must have been a peace officer or any other protected individual who was in the course of performing their official duties.
- The prosecutor should prove that you intentionally and unlawfully offensively touched the victim.
- When you touched the victim, it should be evident that you knew or should reasonably have known that the victim was a protected person involved in the commission of his legal duties.
The law outlines several protected persons under California law. The protected persons include lifeguards, California highway patrolmen, paramedics and EMTs, firefighters, custodial officers, process servers, private security guards, animal control officers, nurses, and doctors involved in providing emergency medical care, employees of the probation department in California.
Acting Willfully Or Intentionally
You cannot face battery on a peace officer if you touch the officer accidentally. The prosecutor should prove that your touch was intentional. Acting willfully or deliberately means that you acted on purpose or knowingly. It means that you were aware of your actions and their effects on the victim. You should note that even the slightest and seemingly harmless form of touching may attract battery charges. The prosecutor only needs to prove that even if the touch was subtle, you did it angrily or rudely. As long as you contacted the victim, you could face battery charges. You could face battery charges even if the contact was through the person's clothing. You could still face charges even if you touch the victim indirectly. An indirect touch means that you used an object or caused another person to touch the victim.
Penalties For Battery On A Peace Officer
Usually, a violation of Penal Code 243 is a misdemeanor offense. However, if you inflict injuries on a peace officer, the crime could attract felony charges. Causing injuries on peace officers makes PC 243 a wobbler violation, meaning that depending on the facts of your case, the crime could be a felony or misdemeanor. If the offense is a misdemeanor, the penalties could include:
- A jail time in a California county jail for up to one year
- A fine that does not exceed $2,000
In deciding whether to charge a wobbler as a felony or misdemeanor, the prosecutor will also consider your criminal history in addition to considering the facts of your case. If the crime is a felony, the penalties will include a jail time of up to three years and a fine that does not exceed $10,000. In addition, if you are charged under the California PC 243(b), you could face additional charges for resisting an arrest.
Whether You Could Face Felony Charges If The Peace Officer Does Not Seek Medical Treatment
The law states that you could face felony charges if you inflict injuries on a peace officer. Most people assume that for you to face felony charges, the injuries must have been severe enough to make the peace officer seek medical treatment. When deciding whether to charge you with a felony or misdemeanor, the prosecutor will consider the nature, extent, and severity of the injury inflicted on the peace officer. You could still face felony charges even if the alleged peace officer did not seek medical treatment. However, with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can negotiate to have your charges reduced to misdemeanor charges. In most cases, the element of medical treatment is required for the prosecutor to charge you with felony battery on a peace officer.
You Didn’t Mean To Hurt The Peace Officer
The law does not require the prosecutor to prove that you intended to hurt the peace officer for you to face battery charges. The prosecutor only needs to prove that you touched the peace officer in an offensive or harmful manner and that the touch was intentional or willful. You can only evade the battery charges if you touched the officer accidentally or if the touch was in self-defense.
The Peace Officer Was Not On Duty
An essential element states that you can only face battery on a peace officer if you committed the crime when the officer was in the commission of their official duties. Therefore, if the officer was not performing their legal responsibilities and you were not even aware that the victim was a peace officer, you can use this fact as a defense to fight your charges. However, if the person informs you that they are a peace officer, but you still offensively touch them, you could still face battery on a peace officer charge.
Sometimes, you could be in a bar when you get into an argument with another person, and you touch them offensively. In this case, there was no way for you to know that the person you were drinking with was a peace officer, especially if the victim was not in uniform. Therefore, you can defend yourself by stating that the victim was not engaged in the commission of their legal duties, and neither did you know they were a peace officer.
Probation Instead Of Jail Time
Instead of sending you to jail, the judge may recommend a summary or formal probation. Summary probation is also called misdemeanor probation, while formal probation is also called felony probation. Misdemeanor probation is an alternative to jail time when the defendant commits a misdemeanor crime. For example, any person who commits a misdemeanor crime, including misdemeanor battery on a peace officer, could be sentenced to misdemeanor probation. This probation aims to restore and rehabilitate the victim and protect the public.
Misdemeanor probation is mainly common for first-time offenders. However, even repeat offenders could be eligible for misdemeanor probation depending on the circumstances. An experienced criminal defense attorney representing you will significantly increase your likelihood of receiving alternative sentencing instead of jail time upon committing battery on a peace officer.
The prosecutor will sometimes agree to misdemeanor probation as a plea bargain. In other instances, the judge may grant you misdemeanor probation during sentencing.
Under certain circumstances, a defendant may reject probation and decide to serve jail time and get it over with. If a defendant chooses jail time, the judge cannot force alternative sentencing on them. An attorney will help you decide whether it is an excellent option to reject probation and choose jail time.
Misdemeanor probation is different from felony probation because the judge does not request a periodic report from the probation department. The defendant doesn’t have to meet often with the probation officer. While on misdemeanor probation, the court may require the defendant to comply with certain probation conditions:
- Participating in individual or group therapy
- Paying fines or restitution to the victim
- Taking part in an anger management program
- Attend a substance abuse program and refrain from alcohol or drugs use
- Submit to random drug testing
- Attend all the scheduled court hearings
- Not violate other laws while on probation or being arrested by law enforcement officers.
If you don’t honor the probation terms, the judge may extend the probation or revoke your probation and order jail time.
Felony probation is also known as formal probation. It is an alternative form of sentencing that allows convicted felons to serve part or all of their sentence out of jail but under the close supervision of a probation officer. For example, the judge may recommend formal probation instead of sending you to jail when you commit battery on a peace officer. However, not everyone qualifies for formal probation. Whether or not you are eligible for this probation will depend on the severity of the crime you commit and your criminal history. For a non-violent felony, the probation may last for two years. Then, instead of serving time in jail, you stay out of custody in the community but under the close supervision of a probation officer. While determining the defendant's eligibility for formal probation, the judge considers the following factors:
- The severity of the felony crime that you commit
- If the defendant was armed while committing the crime
- The victim’s character
- The defendant’s criminal history before the formal probation
- The defendant’s attitude towards formal probation
If you have a prior conviction of a violent or serious felony, you may not be eligible for formal probation. You might not be eligible for felony probation if you inflict significant bodily injury on the victim or you use a deadly weapon while committing the crime. While on formal probation, the judge may require you to comply with the following probation terms:
- Regular meetings with the probation officer
- Paying restitution to the victim
- Performing community service
- Completion of a treatment program
- Paying court costs
- Agreement not to violate additional laws
Three things could happen when you violate probation terms:
- The judge may warn you and reinstate your probation terms
- The judge may modify your probation terms and impose harsher terms
- The judge may revoke the probation and order a jail time
If you want to travel while on formal probation, you have to seek the court’s or the probation officer’s approval
Expungement Of Your Conviction
A person convicted of battery on a peace officer may apply for an expungement of their criminal record. For the defendant to qualify for expungement as outlined under PC 1203.4, they must first complete their jail sentence or probation (whichever the judge imposes).
Fighting Battery On A Peace Officer Charges
When the prosecutor charges you with battery on a peace officer, you can use several legal defenses to fight your charges. Some of the most common defenses that you can use to fight your charges are:
You Acted In Self-Defense Or Defense Of Someone Else
You can challenge a conviction under PC 243 by stating and proving that you acted in self-defense. For example, you can say that you were trying to protect yourself from police brutality or misconduct. Some of the most common forms of police brutality include false arrest, unlawful detention, excessive force, committing perjury, relying on racial profiling. The most common form of battery on a peace officer occurs when the police are trying to arrest a defendant. Even when the defendant is suspected of having committed a crime, they are still entitled to the following rights under the law:
- Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures
- A right against unusual and cruel punishments
- Freedom of speech
- A right to due process before being deprived of liberty
- The right to privacy
- Freedom of speech
If the peace officer was violating your rights and you acted in self-defense, you can use this fact to fight the charges. For self-defense to apply, it should be evident that you believed that you or someone else was in danger of imminent harm. It should also be apparent that you didn’t use more force/power than was necessary under the circumstances to protect yourself or another person from suffering damage.
You Did Not Act On Purpose Or Willfully
Another common defense that you can use to fight your charges is by stating that you didn’t act on purpose or willfully. You can only face charges under PC 243 if you act on purpose. For example, you can state that even if you offensively touched the peace officer, the touch was accidental. If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that you acted on purpose, they cannot convict you under this statute.
The Officer Was Not Engaged In Their Official Duties
Another requirement for a defendant to be prosecuted under PC 243 is that the peace officer should have been involved in performing their official duties. Therefore, if the officer was not involved in their legal responsibilities, you can challenge a conviction under PC 243. For example, you can state that when the battery took place, the officer was not performing their official duties, and you did not even know that the victim was a peace officer.
Several crimes are related to battery on a peace officer. The prosecutor may charge you with the related crime alongside or instead of battery on a peace officer. The related crimes are:
Resisting An Arrest — PC 148
You could face charges under PC 148 if you willfully resist, delay, or obstruct law enforcement officers or emergency medical technicians (EMTs) from performing their official duties. The California PC 148 A 1 PC makes it a crime for a person to intentionally obstruct or resist a law enforcement officer or EMT from performing their official duties. The prosecutor should prove the following officers to accuse you under this statute:
- You willfully or intentionally resisted, obstructed, or delayed a police officer or EMT.
- While you did so, the officer or the EMT was involved in performing their official duties.
- You knew or reasonably should have known that the officer or the technician was engaged in performing their duties.
The violation of PC 148 is a misdemeanor offense. The crime is punishable by a jail time of up to one year in county jail. The judge may also impose a fine of not more than $1,000. However, the judge may award you misdemeanor probation instead of jail time.
If the prosecutor charges you with resisting an arrest under PC 148, you can challenge this accusation by using several defenses to fight this accusation. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you could have your charges reduced or even dismissed. Some of the common defenses are:
- You did not act willfully — You can only face charges under PC 148 if you act willfully or intentionally. If you create a solid defense to show that you didn’t act on purpose, the court may reduce or even dismiss your charges.
- False accusation — The police may accuse you of resisting an arrest just because they didn’t like your attitude or because you questioned them about why you were being arrested. Sometimes, the police may accuse you of this crime to cover up police misconduct like excessive force or racial profiling.
- Before the police can arrest a suspect, they must have probable cause. If you feel that the police did not have probable cause to arrest you, you can use this fact to fight your arrest.
Resisting An Executive Officer — PC 69
The California PC 69 states that it is a crime to resist an executive officer. Resisting an executive officer means that you used violence or threats to prevent the officer from performing their duties. The prosecutor should prove the following elements to accuse you of this crime:
- You intentionally and unlawfully used violence or a threat of violence to prevent an officer from performing their lawful duties
- When you did this, you acted deliberately or on purpose
- When you acted, you knew that the executive officer was performing their legal duties
An executive officer refers to any government official who usually uses their discretion in performing their official duties. Some of the examples of executive officers include judges, police officers, government prosecutors, and other elected officials.
The violation of PC 69 is a wobbler offense that could attract misdemeanor or felony charges. If the crime is a misdemeanor, the potential consequences are:
- A summary or misdemeanor probation
- A jail time of up to one year in a county jail
- A fine of not more than $10,000
If the crime is a felony, the potential consequences are:
- A formal probation
- A jail time of up to three years in a county jail
- A fine of not more than $10,000
You can use the following defenses to fight a conviction under PC 69:
- The officer engaged in unlawful conduct
- You were acting in self-defense or defense of someone else
- The victim is not an executive officer
Simple Battery — PC 242
As outlined by PC 242, simple battery is an intentional and unlawful use of violence or force on another person. You could face battery charges even if the victim does not suffer any pain or injury. All the prosecutor needs to prove is that you offensively touched the victim. The prosecutor should prove that:
- You touched someone else
- The touch was willful or intentional
- The touch was offensive or harmful
You cannot face battery charges under PC 242 if the prosecutor cannot prove all the elements outlined above.
Simple battery is a misdemeanor crime, provided it does not cause serious injury to the victim and is not committed against a protected person or a law enforcement officer. The potential consequences for simple battery are:
- Misdemeanor probation
- A jail time of no more than six months in a county jail
- A fine that does not exceed $2,000
You can use the following legal defenses to fight a battery charge:
- You acted in self-defense or defense of someone else — For this defense to apply, you should have reasonably believed that you or someone else was in danger of suffering harm. It should also be evident that you thought it was necessary to use force to defend yourself or the other person from harm. Finally, you must not have used more power than was required under the circumstances.
- You were exercising your parental rights to discipline a child
Find A Chula Vista Criminal Lawyer Near Me
A battery on a peace officer conviction could have adverse consequences, including jail time, fines, and paying restitution to the victim. Therefore, contacting an attorney immediately after the prosecutor accuses you of battery on a peace officer is crucial. For reliable legal representation, contact the Chula Vista Criminal Attorney. Call us at 619-877-6894 and talk to one of our attorneys.