Vista criminal attorney is an experienced criminal law firm with vast expertise in criminal defense while serving clients in and around Vista, CA. Our attorneys are conversant with California criminal law and can handle cases of battery resulting in serious injury for our clients who are facing these charges to a favorable outcome.
A battery which results in significant bodily injuries to another person is taken seriously by law enforcers and prosecution. When charged with this crime you face possible jail time, significant fines in monetary terms, probation, and restitution to the victim. This offense can occur anywhere including at home with your romantic partner or in a nightclub with fellow patrons. If formally accused or if you are being investigated for such a crime, it is advisable that you contact a reputed attorney who can get these charges reduced or even dismissed entirely.
There are a variety of possible defenses for a battery with a serious bodily injury charge which includes acting on self-defense, the assumed battery was an accident, and that the injury was not actually serious.
We will delve into the matter of battery leading to serious bodily injury in the paragraphs below.
Battery with Serious Bodily Injury as per the California Law
The California Penal Code 243 (d) PC battery with serious bodily injury is also known as an aggravated battery. To be deemed guilty of aggravated battery, you have to have committed battery which resulted in significant bodily harm to the defendant.
The laws in California have established that battery is the act of willfully touching someone in an offensive, harmful way or unlawful manner.
Any physical contact with another individual including their clothing is considered a touch. Touching a person in any way however small which results to harm may be judged as aggravated battery.
Willfully touching someone means that you did it on purpose, even if you did not intend to be malicious, gain an unfair advantage over another or even cause them harm or injury.
The act of touching should be offensive in such a way that it is done in a rough, rude, aggrieved and disrespectful way. For instance, friendly touching done in a strong aggressive manner may result in injury to the other parties involved and even if it was done willfully, the injured person cannot successfully press charges on the defendant with battery causing severe injury under California Penal Code 243 (d) PC because the touching was not offensive. A forceful push though can be considered as a harmful touch.
In addition to the above, offensive touching may also include touching which may not result in physical injury but which is deeply upsetting to the victim. For instance, grabbing another individual's arm in anger or touching a private region of another person would be interpreted as a battery
For you to be formally accused in court for aggravated battery, the battery act must have resulted in serious bodily harm to another person, in this case, the defendant. Serious bodily harm or injury is interpreted as a significant impairment of an individual’s normal physical body functioning and condition. Examples of bodily injuries that may be deemed to be serious or significant include;
- Loss of cognitive abilities,
- Head concussions,
- Fractures to the bones,
- Sustained damage to a body part,
- Deep wounds which call for extensive stitching, and
- Far-reaching disfigurement.
The jury, however, is entitled under the California Penal Code 243(d) PC to determine whether an injury is serious or not. This applies to injuries which are not listed with the above examples since it is not very inclusive. Moreover, the injury does not have to be seen by a medical practitioner to be taken seriously.
What is the Contrast between Battery and Assault?
An action that could result in bodily harm or unwelcomed touching to another person can be interpreted as assault while a battery is the actual and real infliction of damage on that person. An Assault is seen as the intention to inflict injury on another person whereas battery is the actual act of causing an injury on that person. Finally, for assault to be said to have occurred, you do not require to have physically touched the defendant, however, battery requires physical contact.
What Evidence is Needed for Proving a Battery with Serious Injuries Charge in Court?
The prosecutor will have to provide evidence to prove the fact of willful touching done in a harmful and offensive manner. It may include the victims account and probably a statement from a witness who saw the whole altercation and saw the accused touch the victim.
The victim and the witness should be able to describe the nature of the contact in their accounts. Sometimes it may be from an object such a gun that the defendant brandished in a threatening way before offensively touching the victim. In the description, the witness could state the temperament of the defendant to be violent and rude before aggressively pushing the victim.
The prosecution side will also need to produce a medical report in court to prove that the injuries sustained by the victim were serious. They may need to submit proof to the court to demonstrate that the said injury will hinder the victim from effectively performing their daily duties.
Legal Defenses Available for Battery Resulting in Serious Injuries Charges
As we have explained before, you can face aggravated battery charges even if you did not intend to cause harm to the injured party. The consequences of the sentences attached to this crime can be far-reaching and may even lead to jail time. Since a conviction of this nature goes on your criminal records, this could lead to assumptions that you are generally a violent lawbreaker. Luckily, a Vista Criminal Attorney may be able to convince a judge to either dismiss these charges or reduce them to favorable ones. We will discuss some of the most appropriate defenses below. They include;
- Self Defense- You can raise self-defense and defense to loved ones as a possible defense only if all the following is true. That;
- You had reason to believe that either you or your loved ones were facing an oncoming danger of incurring physical injuries or being harmfully touched,
- You had enough reason, to believe that using force was the only appropriate manner of defense against the imminent danger,
- You used just reasonable force to protect yourself or your loved ones against that said danger.
For instance, Mary and her workmate, Rose, are having an argument. Rose aims at Mary using an office object and once she sees it, Mary responds by pushing Rose on the chest that she falls on her neighbor’s desk breaking her chin. If Rose calls law enforcement on Mary, but the police arrest Rose instead, she could raise the self-defense rebuttal and say that she reasonably believed that she was in danger and had to act in self-defense.
- Accidental Touching- If you were running, in an emergency and you accidentally tripped and fell on an old lady who was on the same path as you and due to the impact she suffered a concussion, you still would not be guilty of aggravated battery since you had no intentions to willfully cause the injury to the lady. The touching and injury were done by accident
In an instance though, where you committed to hitting someone but overlooked them and you hit a different person in the vicinity, you could be charged with aggravated battery. This is because your willful goal was to strike your aggressor in a dangerous manner but the punishment was transferred to the person you struck even though you had no aim to hit them.
- The seriousness of the Injury- There is no specific definition of serious harm under the California Penal Code 243 (d) PC. It is the discretion of the judge to determine whether an injury is serious or not. Many victims in an aggravated battery charge are quite vengeful such that they may try to exaggerate the injuries they suffered in a bid to seek revenge and have you charged with a more serious crime of battery resulting to significant harm than that of a simple battery charge which is punished as a misdemeanor.
Our experienced attorney will be able to scrutinize the plaintiff's claims to establish the true degree of the injuries, and hopefully be able to have the prosecutor charge you with a simple battery whose fines and sentences are not as severe as the alleged crime.
Penalties and Punishment for Battery Causing Severe Bodily Injury Penal Code 243(d) PC
Battery leading to severe physical damage crime is a wobbler and therefore, the prosecution can file it as misdemeanor crime or as a felony crime. This decision is informed by the specifics of the illegal act and the criminal record of the accused.
The penalties for misdemeanor aggravated battery are summary or misdemeanor probation, a maximum of one year term in county jail and a monetary fine of a thousand dollars maximum. If an aggravated battery charge is filed as a felony, the penalties are a felony or formal probation, two (2) to four (4) years in jail or a $10,000 court fine.
A felony conviction for aggravated battery has far-reaching consequences in that; if you are guilty of felony battery causing severe bodily harm, you will also be barred from owning, possessing or acquiring a firearm. In case you owned a firearm prior to this conviction, you will need to surrender it to police officers or sell it at a lawfully recognized gun store.
Sentencing Enhancements for California Code 243(d) PC
Provided that the defendant sustained ‘great bodily injury’ which is interpreted as significant harm to the body as determined by the judge, you may receive further criminal sentencing which means that your ruling may be extended by three to six years in jail under the battery with severe injury laws, California Code 243 (d). This could increase jail time to ten (10) years. These sentences are to be served consecutively. This implies that you have to first finish serving the sentence for the first offense before you serve the sentence for the next offense.
An injury is considered ‘great bodily injury’ by looking at;
- Its severity,
- The level of pain,
- The extent of medical intervention required.
Examples of such injuries are sustained paralysis, brain damage, severe gunshot wounds or second-degree burns.
Great bodily injury in an aggravated battery charge constitutes a strike under the three (3) strikes laws of California. This therefore substantially adds prison time to your sentences and limits your probability of getting any other kind of punishment, other than life in prison.
If your victim was aged below five (5) years or over seventy (70) years and they sustained severe injuries, the judge may contemplate enhancing your sentence.
Lastly, a sex offense or domestic battery may also have the judge increase your sentencing to six (6) years.
Other Offenses Related to Aggravated Battery Resulting in Severe Bodily Damage
There exist a number of crimes which are closely related to battery causing significant bodily injuries due to the fact that they have a tendency to be indicted together or in place of each other.
- Simple Battery
A battery offense that does not lead to serious injury to the victim's body is considered a simple battery and is penalized under the California Penal Code 242. It is seen as a misdemeanor.
If convicted of a misdemeanor simple battery offense, you will get fined a maximum of $2000 and/or a half a year (six months) in the county jail.
- Battery on a Peace Officer
This is the offense is battery committed on persons deemed by the laws of California as protected. Such persons are also called peace officers. The Penal Code 243(b) with Penal Code 243 (c) (2) stipulates harsh punishments to offenders of these statutes.
Such protected people are;
- Police and others charged with enforcing rule of law,
- Custodial officers,
- Emergency medical technicians,
- Paramedics and doctors,
- Security officers,
- Process servers,
- Animal control officers,
- Probation branch staff members.
A Simple battery crime against any of the people listed above is still considered a misdemeanor and it attracts a jail term of up to a year instead of the usual six months preferred to simple battery offenses committed on ordinary citizens.
Causing injury to any of those people no matter how small will have your violations charged as a California Wobbler, where the prosecutor decides whether your crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. If sentenced for felonious battery causing any injuries to any of the people mentioned above, you get 16 months, 2 or 3 years in a California jail. Punishment for battery causing slight injury to a protected person is nevertheless lighter than that of battery causing severe injury to any other person.
- California Penal Code 273.5, Causing Bodily Harm on a Close Partner
If you willfully inflict injury resulting in serious body trauma on a close partner, you might be charged under the California Penal Code 237.5 PC, causing bodily harm on a close partner. A close partner, also alternatively known as an intimate partner is a person; who is the current or divorced spouse, whom you are dating or had dated, or the mother or father to your children.
A conviction under this law will have you facing a wobbler charge, where you could either get two, three or four years jail time if charged with a felony. An immigrant even if legally in the United States could be deported to their country of origin if convicted of the crime of corporal harm on a close partner since it is a deportable crime as guided by the federal immigration code.
Thus, it may be advisable to hire the services of a Vista Criminal Firm attorney who can get the charges under Penal Code 273.5 reduced to aggravated battery.
- Penal Code 368 PC elder abuse
The California Penal Code 368 prohibits any willful neglect, physical, mental or financial abuse directed on an individual of sixty-five (65) years or older. Thus, you are likely to be prosecuted with this crime and California battery leading to severe corporal harm if you caused injury through the act of battery to a person aged sixty-five (65) years or older.
Violation of the California elder abuse laws is a wobbler, which attracts two, three or four years in state prison and a monetary fine of a maximum of $6,000.
Find a Battery with Serious Injury Attorney Near Me
As we have explained, the offense of battery causing severe harm carries harsh penalties and punishments which could lead to permanent consequences not only on your criminal records but also in your life. If you or someone you care about is facing these charges, kindly make a call to our Vista criminal lawyer at 760-691-1551 and have us on your side to guide you through the court process and also hopefully obtain an excellent outcome for you or your loved one. In our case evaluation, we will go over the charges you may be facing and bring clarity on this law. We at Vista Criminal Attorney Law Firm serve the residents of the Vista and the larger North County area.