Vista Criminal Attorney is a highly-respected criminal defense law firm operating within Vista, California. Lawyers working at the firm have proved to be valuable to clients seeking help on different criminal defense cases. They also have several years of experience representing people charged with battery on a peace officer. Their goal is always to identify effective legal defenses for fighting such charges.
What is Battery on a Peace Officer under California Law?
Penal Code 243(b) and 243(c)(2) are California’s legal statutes that govern battery on a peace officer offenses. According to these laws, one may be charged with the offenses if one unlawfully and willingly touches a peace officer in an offensive and harmful manner when the officer is working. The accused individual may be found guilty if he/she was aware that the victim was a peace officer on duty.
PC 243(b) points out that battery against a protected person including a peace officer who’s performing his/her duties is a crime. The law also states that the offense is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 if the defendant knew that the victim was a peace officer on duty. The maximum imprisonment time under PC 243(b) is one year in county jail.
PC 243(c)(2) highlights that the battery specified in PC 243(b) is still a crime when it results to an injury. The clause also points out that the offense is punishable by one-year, two-year or three-year imprisonment in county jail. The defendant may also be asked to pay $10,000 as PC 243(c)(2) states.
Besides peace officers, PC 243(b) and 243(c)(2) protects several people against battery. They include:
- Workers of a probation department
- Custodial officers
- Process servers
- Medical practitioners and nurses offering urgent medical care
- Paramedics or emergency medical technicians
Examples of scenarios that can make one charged for battery on a peace officer under PC 243 include:
- A person throwing objects at the peace officers who are assigned to maintain peace during a protest.
- An individual causing bodily injury to a firefighter who’s helping rescue a kid from a burning house.
- A woman scratching the arm of a police officer who tries to arrest her for PC 402(a) (sightseeing at an emergency) crime.
What are the Penalties for Battery on a Peace Officer?
The California Law points out that assaulting a peace officer is a misdemeanor offense. In reference to Penal Code 243(b), battery on a peace officer by less than one-year imprisonment in county jail. The accused may also be mandated to pay a fine of not more than $2,000. The suspect may also be imprisoned and asked to pay fine at the same time.
Penal Code 2439(c) also states if the battery on a peace officer leads to injury, the crime is considered a wobbler. In this case, the crime may be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on several factors. They include the extent of the injuries got by the peace officer and the criminal record of the defendant.
When the offense (battery on a peace officer leading to injury) is charged as a felony, the defendant will be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000. The jury may also sentence the individual to 16 months, 2 years or 3 years imprisonment in county jail under California law. If the crime is considered a misdemeanor, the maximum fine still remains $10,000.
While Matthew is being arrested for driving under influence in Vista, CA, he tries to resist the arrest. He continually struggles with Gerald, the peace officer, and knocks him on the nose using his elbow. Officer Gerald still manages to pin Matthew’s hands between the handcuffs and takes him to the station. Gerald also visits a local hospital to get treatment for his broken nose.
The doctor fixes up Gerald’s nose before discharging him. The stitches are part of the proof and evidence that Matthew can be prosecuted for battery on a peace officer charges in addition to driving under influence charges.
Succeeding to be acquitted of battery on a peace officer charges doesn’t make one not guilty of other charges. Under California law, there are four other crimes related to battery on a peace officer charges that one may be charged. They include sightseeing at an emergency, resisting arrest, simple battery and battery that leads to serious injury. Discussed below are these offenses in detail.
- Sightseeing at an Emergency
One is guilty of this crime when one goes to an emergency scene and tries to hinder the duties of the emergency workers. The emergency workers, in this case, include emergency medical personnel, peace officers and firefighters. Penal Code 402(a) points out that such an offense is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by six months imprisonment in county jail. Individuals facing battery on a peace officer charges can use it as a plea bargain in their defenses.
- Resisting Arrest
PC 148(a)(1) classifies this offense as a misdemeanor that’s punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or one-year imprisonment in county jail. The crime can also act as a plea bargain for PC 243(b)/PC 243(c) charges. Though the conviction is slightly less than the battery misdemeanors, it can affect one’s criminal record.
- Battery that Results to Serious Injury
PC 243(d) defines serious bodily injury as any critical impairment of a person’s physical condition. One is guilty of the crime if he/she battered and caused serious injury on someone else. The crime may be considered a misdemeanor or felony. If the jury considers it a felony, the accused individual may face up to four years jail time.
- Simple Battery
One is guilty of simple battery charges if one unlawfully or willfully touches someone else as the Penal Code 242 states. As a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by six months imprisonment in county jail or a maximum fine of $2,000. The victim may be a law enforcement officer or a civilian.
What is the Criminal Process Involved in a Battery on a Peace Officer Case?
One needs to understand the criminal process involved in a case involving battery on a peace officer. Under California law, the process usually begins with an allegation, which is a note addressed to the law enforcers that one committed a certain crime. The allegation, in this context, will come from the peace officer/protected person that was assaulted.
The pre-filing investigation begins after the allegation has been made. In this procedure, the law enforcement officers take time to analyze and scrutinize the facts of the case to determine their validity. Police officers may approach the accused individual or other witnesses to ask them questions regarding the case. The prosecutor may proceed to file charges against the accused individual if he/she gets enough evidence from the police.
Three outcomes are likely to occur when the law enforcement officers send the evidence of the case to the District Attorney’s office. The DA may ask them to conduct further investigation and then resubmit the evidence or may file charges against the accused. The DA may also decide to terminate the investigation. An arrest warrant will be issued once the DA decides to file charges against the accused individual.
How the Prosecutor Proves Battery on a Peace Officer Charges
The prosecutor needs to prove certain elements of the crime to ascertain that the accused individual is guilty of the battery on a peace officer charges. As PC 243(b) and 243(c) state, the alleged victim must be a recognized peace officer or protected individual carrying out his/her assigned official duties. The prosecutor must also prove that the defendant battered the victim knowing that the victim was performing his/her duties.
The California law on battery on a peace officer/protected persons applies to several professionals and officials. The prosecutor needs to prove that the victim was on duty at the time he/she was assaulted and was carrying out his/her duties in accordance with the law. Discussed below are some of the elements the peace officer needs to prove in detail.
The Defendant Reasonably Knew the Plaintiff was a Peace Officer
The defendant can be found guilty of a battery on a peace officer if he/she knew that the victim was protected by both Penal Code 243(b) and 243(c). A California jury will determine whether the plaintiff driving in a clearly marked peace officer/ protected persons’ car. The jury will also assess whether the victim announced his/her status to the defendant or wore a uniform at the time of the assault.
The Defendant Acted Willfully
Laying hands on a peace officer or other individuals protected by PC 243(b)/243(c) can be a crime if it was willfully done. The term “willfully” refers to acting on purpose. In this case, the defendant may be guilty if he/she intended to gain a certain advantage, hurt the victim or break the law.
Touched Violently or Offensively
Penal codes 234(b) and 243(c) classify battery as any offensive or violent touching. Battery on a peace officer can also include willingly touching an item that belongs to or is connected to the officer. Such an item can be a bag/purse or a cloth he/she is wearing.
Peace Officer on Duty
One is only guilty of PC 243(b) and 243(c) crimes if the peace officer was performing his/her duties at the time of the battery. The defendant may be charged if the prosecutor provides sufficient evidence to prove that the plaintiff was at work when he/she was battered. If the victim wasn’t working at that time, the accused individual may be charged with PC 242 (simple battery) crime.
Peace Officer or Other Protected Individuals
Peace officers are usually hired by law enforcement agencies to help maintain law and order in the community. PC 243(b) and PC 243(c) protect peace officer and selected public officials/professionals against battery from civilians. These individuals include police officers, highway patrol officers working in California, port/harbor police, custodial officers, traffic officers, firefighters, and transit police among many others. The victim must have identified him/herself to the defendant in his/her line of work at the time of the assault for the case to be valid.
How to Fight Battery on a Peace Officer Charges
The most effective way of fighting battery on a peace officer charges in California is by seeking assistance from a competent criminal defense attorney. The attorney must also be well-versed in California assault and battery law. The lawyer’s mandate is to understand the client’s options and offer assistance on how they can assert the legal defenses against the case. The three common legal defenses for battery on a peace officer charges are as follows:
- The Officer wasn’t Working at that Time
Penal Code 243(b) and 243(c) argue that one can only be guilty of the battery on a peace officer charges if the peace officer was working at that time. Peace officers are deemed to not be working when they’re engaging in activities such as racial profiling, unlawful seizure/search and making unlawful arrests. Under PC 243(b) and 243(c), battery of an officer engaging in these activities isn’t punishable.
Luke enters a grocery store and threatens the cashier to give him money by pointing a gun to his head. As he walks towards the door, he encounters a peace officer (Jonathan) who’s dressed civilian clothes. Jonathan tries to get hold of Luke, who punches him in the face and runs away.
Under these circumstances, Luke didn’t know that Jonathan was a peace officer. He is guilty of simple battery and robbery charges. However, he won’t be convicted for battery on a peace officer charges.
- The Suspect didn’t Act Willingly
One needs to act willfully to be charged with a battery on a peace officer offense. The accused individual may argue that he or she didn’t intend to cause any harm to the officer. For example, the individual may point out that he or she felt uncomfortable when handcuffs were being placed in his/her hands and accidentally assaulted the officer.
- The Act was in Defense of Someone Else or Self-defense
Acting in self-defense or in defense of someone else can legally make one not guilty of assaulting a peace officer. However, this defense is only applicable when the accused used reasonable force to prevent him/her against bodily injury. The defense can also work if the suspect believed that use of force was crucial to solving the situation.
What are the Civil Remedies for the Assault Victim?
The assault victim can ask the justice system for compensation for the harm he/she suffered. For the jury to grant this compensation, the victim needs to prove the case by giving sufficient evidence. The best way the individual can prove the case is by hiring a lawyer to sue the assault perpetrator for damages. The jury may award the plaintiff damages (also known as compensation) for any physical or emotional injuries caused.
The legal term “tort” is used to describe an action that leads to harm or injury. Battery on a peace officer can qualify as a tort course of action. The compensation for such a case includes reimbursement for the loss of earning capacity, loss of income, medical expenses and pain and suffering. Since civil lawsuits majorly focus on compensation, the plaintiff should be sure that the defendant is in a position to pay for the damages before pressing the charges.
Why Work with a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
For the defendant to get a fair hearing, he or she needs to enlist the help of a proficient lawyer. The lawyer, on the other hand, should have a high success rate making defenses for clients charged with battery on a peace officer crimes. The legal expert also needs to take time to listen to the client before recommending any courses of action. With the best defense at hand, the chances of getting the most favorable ruling in court are high.
The defendant should also schedule for an initial consultation before the court date. During the consultation, the attorney should prove that he/she has extensive experience in the courtroom. The attorney should also have a detailed understanding of the California law. The lawyer fees and other related expenses should be agreed upon by both parties before the legal representation begins.
Find a Vista Criminal Attorney that Specializes on Battery on a Peace Officer Cases Near Me
Having the most experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side when fighting a battery on a peace officer case is a wise idea. Getting charged with a crime can be difficult since you’ll be working on how to clear your name. You need an attorney that can help you retain your freedom and give you the best representation in court. Additionally, you should seek out an attorney who will listen to your side of the story that they may be able strategize the best defense for you.
At Vista Criminal Attorney, we acknowledge the fact that every citizen needs the best legal assistance and representation when charged with a crime. We operate in Vista, CA and are ready to help you prepare all the defenses needed to prove your innocence or for a fair ruling. Our lawyers usually adopt a holistic approach that covers all the aspects of the criminal charge you’re facing. For further guidance on our legal services, speak to one of our attorneys at 760-691-1551.