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In this article we explain what is the crime of battery for the California law. One of the most common in the country and particularly in the state.

If you have been charged with one count of physical assault, our violent crimes lawyer can help you. We have over 50 years of combined experience treating these types of cases with favorable results.

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The crime of battery in California

So what is battery in law? Battery is described in California Penal Code 242 PC. It is also known by the name of simple aggression. For this reason, state laws charge it as a punishable misdemeanor. 

It consists of the intentional and illegal use of physical force or violence against another person. 

Although California law does not require the victim to have suffered physical pain or injury to recognize it.  In legal terms the only requirement is that the accused has violently or offensively touched the victim to be charged.   

However, if the crime of battery also involves serious injury, you could be charged with an additional crime. Serious bodily injury – PC 243 (d), is another type of crime related to bodily assault. 

Examples of crimes of bodily assault

A person can be charged with one count of physical assault in California in any of these situations: 

  • Pushing a person into a bar because he was staring at you with a bad face.
  • Throwing a ball at another person and hitting him in the face. 
  • Spit to a teacher because you got a bad grade on an exam.
  • Throwing a stone at a cyclist passing by the front of your house and knocking him off balance. 

Penalties for battery

Violent assault judged as a simple crime carries prison terms and a fine. California Penal Code 242 sanctions you with: 

  • Up to six months in prison in a county jail and / or; 
  • Fine of up to $ 2000.
  • Ban on firearms for up to 10 years.
  • Trial period from six months to one year depending on whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony.

If the person is charged with a misdemeanor injury, the punishment may increase to one year in prison in a county jail. 

If you are charged with a felony injury, the punishment is greater. The crime is punishable by up to 16 months, two years, or three years in a state prison. 

This crime is also aggravated when the victim is a public servant. For example, police, firefighter, or highway patrol agent, peace officer, custodian, paramedic and others.

Like the crime of assault, it is classified as a “wobbler”. So you can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. 


Among the penalties that courts usually establish for crimes of assault or battery is the restitution of damages. The victim must be compensated for the damages caused by the convicted person. 

A person convicted of a misdemeanor assault could pay between $ 150 and $ 1,000. The value of compensation will depend on the damage caused to the victim.

If convicted of a felony, the court can order the convicted person to pay between $ 300 and $ 10,000. The amount will also depend on the damages to the victim and other aggravating factors. 

threats and violent assault

Intentional conduct required

An important aspect to consider and to understand what is battery in law is that to constitute the crime of battery, the prosecutor must prove intent. Since it could be an accidental action mistaken by the victim for a deliberate action, there is room for appropriate defense.

Of course, the defense also cannot invoke that the defendant did not know that making threats or hitting the victim was illegal.

Possible legal defenses

As surprising as it may seem, a person can be accused of battery by a simple altercation. Crime does not necessarily require someone to be injured. The prosecutor must prove in court that the accused:

  • Attacked another person;
  • He/she did it on purpose;
  • In a harmful or offensive way. 

So a skilled criminal lawyer can use various defense strategies to dismiss the charges. Below we mention some of them: 

  • The defendant acted in self-defense or came in defense of another person. He only used the necessary force to see his physical integrity endangered.
  • At no time did he act intentionally but rather accidentally.
  • He believed that it was his right to reprimand his son for a bad action. If you are accused of bodily assault and domestic violence.
  • There was consent. The other person tacitly accepted that he could get hurt during the practice of a sport (soccer, boxing, basketball and others).

Offenses related to battery

  • Battery causing serious bodily injury PC 243 (d). Inflicting physical damage on the accused’s spouse or intimate partner. It is considered a serious crime.
  • Assault with a deadly weapon. Use of a weapon (pistol, knife, or object capable of causing fatal injury to another person. 
  • Assault on a public server PC 243 (b) and 243 (c) (2). Involves the attempted aggression against public officials of security, relief, medical assistance, etc.
  • Domestic violence – PC 243 (e) (1). Abuse against a spouse, children, parents or people who live with the accused. It is a wobbler offense that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor as well.  
  • Sexual assault – PC 243.4. Touching another person’s intimate parts against their will and for “the purpose of sexual excitement, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.” 
  • Elder Abuse – PC 368. Any type of physical or emotional abuse against a senior citizen. Also put her in danger due to negligence or deliberately and exploit her financially.
  • Attempted murder. It is prosecuted as a felony under California Penal Code 664/187 PC. It is classified in attempted first and second degree murder.

Differences between assault and battery

Although these crimes seem synonymous, to know what is battery in law you must understand the difference with the crime of assault.  

  • Assault is the attempt to cause harm to another person. Basically, the victim is threatened with physical harm through words, gestures and actions.
  • Battery is the illegal use of force or violence against another person. Either by applying brute bodily force (grabbing, hitting, pushing) or through an object.

What differentiates assault from battery is that physical contact is not required for the first offense. In contrast, battery, it is required, regardless of whether the contact was mild or severe.

What can we do for you?

For more information on this topic, we invite you to contact us. Request a professional consultation with any of our criminal defense attorneys and we will be happy to assist you.

If you are an immigrant and have been charged with any crime related to theft crimesdrugs, or criminal violence, call us. We are also certified immigration attorneys and can represent you to prevent you from being deported.

When we take a case we investigate it thoroughly and devise an effective defense strategy. We looked for possible police mistakes during the arrest and we fought the prosecutor’s charges. 

Now you know what is battery in law. For more than four decades we have defended hundreds of people accused of crimes of battery. The results are obvious with the testimonials of our satisfied clients.