California’s statute forbidding Battery Causing Great Bodily Injury, also known as Aggravated Battery, applies when anyone commits a Battery resulting in serious injury.
- If you are convicted of the Misdemeanor form of Battery Causing Great Bodily Injury, you face up to one year in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- If you’re convicted of the Felony form, you can be sentenced to as many as four years in a state prison and be fined up to $10,000.
It’s possible to receive imprisonment and a fine under both forms.
WHAT DOES BATTERY CAUSING SERIOUS BODILY INJURY MEANS?
Battery causing a great bodily injury, Also known as Aggravated Battery, under California Penal Code Section 243(d) is defined as:
The elements of the penal code 243(d) pc are: (1) You touched someone intentionally or willfully, in a harmful or offensive manner. (2) It caused serious bodily injury as a result of the force used.
To be convicted of aggravated battery, you need to have touched someone which means making some kind of contact with them. It could be as simple as touching them by your finger or hand or by using an object like a pole or handbag that is considered an extension of yourself.
Intentionally or Willfully:
The contact has to be willful and with the intent to touch another person in a harmful or offensive manner. You also may not have intended to injure the other person at all. But, if your intentional contact, however slight, did lead to a serious injury, then you may have committed this offense. If you unintentionally touched or made contact with someone, then no battery has occurred.
Harmful or Offensive Manner:
Harmful contact can be a hard push or shove as well as a punch. To be offensive contact, the touching must have been unwanted and done in a manner that was rude, violent, angry and disrespectful
Serious Bodily Injury:
A serious injury is defined as a “serious impairment of a physical condition.” This can include but not limited to concussion, loss of consciousness, fracture of a bone, serious disfigurement, a wound requiring extensive sutures.. and more.
NOTE: The injury need not require medical attention to be considered “serious.”
EVIDENCE USED TO PROVE A VIOLATION OF PENAL CODE 243(D) PC
In order to proving each element of Penal Code 243(d), the prosecutor may provide evidence in the form of eyewitness testimony to prove touching or making contact with someone in an offensive manner.
PROVING THE INTENTIONAL ACT:
The victim or third party witness can describe the contact as a hard push or shove if not a punch. The contact could also be from a knife, firearm. or other object that was wielded by the defendant in a threatening manner.
The defendant could also be described as looking straight at the victim before the contact was made or that he/she made a threatening comment before contact.
PROVING THE HARMFULNESS:
A witness could describe the defendant as being angry or shouting just before the contact was made or was laughing in a mocking way before violently brushing against the victim.
PROVING A SERIOUS BODILY INJURY:
The prosecutor will also likely need to offer medical evidence from doctors or medical reports that the injury was serious as defined by the law.
Again, this is a factual determination that in similar cases could lead to different interpretations for the same or similar injury.
For example, a fracture of a bone in your leg might be considered minor if it did not affect you in a substantial way and you were still able to work or perform your usual daily activities. This identical injury on another person, could result in that person being unable to perform his work. In this case, a jury could conclude the injury was serious.
PENALTIES FOR CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 243(D)
If this is your first offense and the injury is borderline serious, then depending on the assessment of the filing deputy you may be charged with a misdemeanor.
But if you caused someone extensive injuries regardless of your criminal history or past, you are likely to be charged with a felony.
If you caused someone to suffer a serious bodily injury, it may or may not rise to the level of “great bodily injury.” This is defined as a significant or substantial physical injury.
If the prosecutor feels that the injury constitutes “great bodily injury,” and the trier-of-fact agrees, then you face an additional 3 to 6 years in prison that is to be served consecutively and not concurrently.. Your maximum sentence could be as much as 10 years.
If you did cause a GBI, this also constitutes a “strike” under California’s three-strikes law.
A judge will also consider enhancing your sentence if the victim was at least 70 years of age or under 5 years of age and the injury was severe.
If the underlying offense was domestic battery or a sex offense, you face possible enhancement of up to 6 years.
DEFENSES TO CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 243(D)
There are a several defenses to aggravated battery which may be relevant depending upon the specific circumstances of each case.
The main defense to aggravated battery is self-defense. This is an affirmative defense, meaning that the defendant must raise and prove the defense so that a jury would deem the defendant’s actions as reasonable under the factual circumstances.
You can prove that you were acting in Self Defense if:
- You had a reasonable belief that you or someone else was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or being touched in a harmful or offensive manner
- You had a reasonable belief that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger
- You used no more than reasonable force that was necessary under the circumstances to defend yourself
You no longer have to retreat once the danger has passed and may even pursue the attacker until the danger of bodily injury has passed.Accident
You cannot be convicted of penal code 243(d) if the touching was unintended or accidental.
If you were making your way through a crowded room or street and accidentally bumped someone who fell and hit their head, there is no battery.
If you were intoxicated and stumbled and bumped into someone who fell and broke a leg, there is no intent to contact someone. However, you could face charges of disorderly conduct or being drunk in public.
What If The Injury Was Not Serious?
Whether an injury is serious so as to warrant a charge of aggravated battery is largely subjective in many cases. Even a broken bone is not necessarily a serious injury if it is not a serious impairment of a physical condition.
A fracture of a bone that does not require a cast or does not interfere with the following may not arise to the level of “serious injury.”: person’s mobility, ability to work, drive or perform other household tasks
Although it is not required for an injury to be considered “serious” that the victim seek a medical treatment, the fact that medical treatment was received does not automatically means the injury “serious” either.
Some victims may exaggerate their symptoms that a medical report or testimony from the treating physician can corroborate or show that the victim was alleging symptoms that were inconsistent with the injury.
If your defense attorney has such evidence, then the prosecutor might be persuaded to reduce the charges to simple battery or assault, a misdemeanor.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION
WHAT IF I ACTED IN A SELF DEFENSE?
Self-defense is a valid legal defense to battery causing serious bodily injury. To assert self-defense it must be shown that you reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury and that you reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger. Defense of others is also a valid defense. You should consult an attorney to discuss these defenses if you have been charged with assault inflicting serious bodily injury.
WHAT IF I HAD BEEN DRINKING AND THAT IS WHY I GOT IN A FIGHT?
Voluntary intoxication can only assist a defendant’s case if he/she is charged with a specific intent crime. A specific intent crime differs from a general intent crime. Specific intent crimes require the intent to do a further act or achieve a further consequence than just the particular act. Generally, assaults are not specific intent crimes as the only intent is that the intended offensive touching occur. The defense of voluntary intoxication is generally not an applicable defense on an assault charge. The distinction between specific intent and general intent crimes is confusing, and although there is a legal difference between specific and general intent, the argument may still be made in court.
WHAT IF I HAVE NO CONVICTIONS ON MY RECORD AND THIS IS MY FIRST OFFENSE?
A defense attorney can discuss your criminal record with the prosecutor to try and mitigate your sentence. If you have no prior convictions and this is the first time you have been in trouble, you are likely a good candidate for probation if you are convicted.
Misdemeanor probation is referred to as summary probation in California. It can include some time in the county jail, however the main focus of probation is to serve your time under court supervision and outside jail. Misdemeanor probation typically lasts between 1 and 3 years and involves conditions of paying fines and performing community service. Unlike felony probation, there is no probation officer that you must report to, however you are required to appear in court before a judge to track your progress.
Felony probation in California is referred to as formal probation. Felony probation has specific conditions and requirements. You are required to meet with a probation officer, comply with other court ordered conditions, make restitution to a victim, and sometimes serve a jail sentence. It is up to the judge to determine if you are a good candidate for probation.
WHAT IF I WAS WRONGFULLY ACCUSED?
Often assault charges are incurred during a bar fight and it is hard to identify who did what. Often times the wrong individual may be identified and charged. The prosecution must prove that the defendant is the one to cause the injury. Mistaken identity is a viable defense and should be explored with your attorney.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ASSAULT AND A BATTERY?
Assault and battery are used interchangeably but they do have different meanings in the law. An assault is really an attempted battery or an action that could result in a battery or the infliction of physical harm or unwanted touching of another person. You need not actually touch another person to be guilty of an assault.
As assault may consist of making threats of physical harm combined with the present ability or perceived ability to carry them out. Raising your fist or pointing a knife or firearm or any other object at someone in an aggressive or threatening manner is considered assault.
A battery is an unlawful, offensive or harmful touching of another person typically charged under penal code 242.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE BATTERY WAS COMMITTED ON A “PEACE OFFICER”
There are harsher penalties in California if you knowingly commit a battery against a law enforcement officer. These offenses are referred to as against a “peace officer” and include specific classes of individuals. They include law enforcement, police, firefighters, EMT’s, traffic officers, process serves, and many more.
A simple battery committed against a “peace officer” while engaged in the performance of their duties is a misdemeanor, however the potential jail sentences increases to 1 year. If a peace officer is injured due to the battery, regardless of how serious the injury is, the crime is a wobbler. You could potentially be charged with a felony offense subjecting you to 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in jail.
The punishment can become more severe if an assault or battery is committed against a peace officer with the use of a firearm. The penalty of imprisonment increases up to 4, 6 or 8 years.
HELP YOU NEED
The State of California treats Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury as a serious offense. If you’re charged with Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury, it’s essential that you retain a skilled, dedicated criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your rights, freedom, and livelihood are at stake.
Remember, a professional criminal defense attorney may be able to:
- Negotiate a lesser charge in a plea bargain;
- Reduce your sentence;
- Or even get charges dismissed completely.
The attorneys at the KN LAW FIRM have an excellent understanding of the local courts and an extensive knowledge of California’s criminal justice system. We can represent you in most of Southern California cities. If you or someone you know has been arrested for, or charged with, Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury, our attorneys will analyze the facts of your case and plan a strategy that will help you obtain the best possible outcome.