Battery that causes serious bodily injury is commonly known as “aggravated battery” and covered under California Penal Code Section 243(d). Battery means you willfully touched another person in an offensive or harmful manner. In simple terms, aggravated battery means you committed a battery offense that caused some type of serious bodily injury on the victim.
So, what is considered a “serious bodily injury?” It's a significant injury, such as a broken bone or concussion. The underlying criminal offense is simple battery that is described under California Penal Code Section 242, which says battery is any unlawful use of force or violence on another person. In order to be charged with Penal Code 243(d), it would require a substantial injury to the victim.
Therefore, the primary difference between simple battery and aggravated battery is the level of injuries sustained by the victim. A common example is Los Angeles County includes a situation where two men get into a fight at a bar. During the struggle, one man pushes the other, causing him to fall and break his arm. Since a broken bone is considered a serious bodily injury, the man could face criminal charges of aggravated battery.
Any conviction for battery could have a substantial impact on your personal and professional life. California Penal Code Section 243(d), formally known as "battery causing serious bodily injury", is a “wobbler.” This means the prosecutor has the discretion to file the case as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. They will normally base their decision on the specific facts and circumstances of the case, and your criminal history.
Typically, prosecutors will aggressively purse aggravated battery cases and you could face serious jail time, fines, and restitution to the victim. If you have been accused of battery causing serious bodily injury, you need to consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP immediately. Do not answer any question from police detectives as you might make incriminating statements that will be used against you later.
Our law firm may be able to negotiate a lesser charge or have the case dismissed. Now that we have covered a basic overview of aggravated battery, let's take a more detailed look at the legal definition, penalties, legal defenses, and related crimes below.
Legal Definition of Aggravated Battery
California Penal Code Section 243(d) describes the crime of battery that causes serious bodily injury as follows:
(d) When battery is committed against another person and serious bodily injury is inflicted, it's punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, or pursuant to Penal Code Section 1170 for two, three, or four years.
As stated above, a “battery” is the willful touching of another person that is offensive or harmful. Clearly, touching requires physical contact, including even slight touching. Willfully simply means on purpose.
It's important to note here that battery causing serious injury doesn't require that you had intent to cause injury to the victim. You only need to have intent to touch them in an offensive or harmful way. This means any “touching” that is angry, violent, or disrespectful. In order to be convicted of violating California Penal Code Section 243(d), aggravated battery, the Los Angeles County prosecutor must be able to prove the following elements of the crime:
- You willfully touched another person in a harmful or offensive manner
- As a result, the victim sustained a serious bodily injury
- You were not acting in self defense
As you can clearly see in this legal definition above, the primary element of the crime of battery causing serious bodily injury is the legal requirement the victim actually suffered a “serious bodily injury." Let's take a closer look at how it's defined below. Call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our office for more detailed information.
What is a Serious Bodily Injury?
Quite simply, a serious bodily injury requires more than a minor injury. It does not require that the victim had to seek medical treatment. Under legal terms, a “serious bodily injury” is defined as a serious impairment of another person's physical condition. The degree of injury will vary as its fact specific. Some common types of serious bodily injuries include the following:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Wound that requires stitches
- Impairment of organ function
- Loss of consciousness
Physical injuries considered serious are not limited to this list above. Whether an injury is actually serious is typically decided on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, it's important to contact one of our Los Angeles criminal lawyers to review the specific details of your case.
Aggravated Battery Legal Penalties
As stated above, a violation of California Penal Code Section 243(d), battery causing serious bodily injury is commonly known in Los Angeles criminal courthouses as a “wobbler” offense. This gives the prosecutor the discretion to charge your case as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. How do prosecutors decide?
Typically, it's based on the severity of the victim's injury and your criminal record. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor case of aggravated battery, the legal penalties include:
- Up to one year in a Los Angeles county jail; and/or
- A fine up to $1,000
- Misdemeanor summary probation
- Pay restitution to the victim
If you are convicted of a felony case of aggravated battery, the legal penalties include:
- 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison
- A fine up to $10,000
- Felony formal probation
- Victim restitution
Additionally, if you are convicted of a felony crime, it could be considered a "strike" under California's Three Strikes Law. This also means you will lose your legal right to own or possess a firearm in California. Finally, if the victim sustained “great bodily injury,” meaning injuries that are more severe than a “serious bodily injury,” you could face a great bodily injury sentence enhancement.
Aggravated Battery Legal Defenses
Our Los Angeles criminal attorneys have a wide range of legal defense strategies that may be used on your behalf against charges of battery causing serious bodily injury, violating California Penal Code Section 243(d). Some of the most common defenses include the following:
Self Defense – In some situations, our criminal lawyers might be able to make a successful argument you were only acting in self defense. This means you had a reasonable belief you, or another person, was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury, believed you had to use immediate force to protect yourself, and didn't use any more force than necessary. California law allows you to defend yourself against harm.
Battery was an accident – It may be possible to argue that you didn't touch the victim willfully, which is element of the crime listed above. If we can show that the alleged battery was an accident, mistake, or in a situation that was beyond your control, you can probably avoid a conviction for battery causing serious bodily injury.
No serious bodily injury – Keeping in mind the legal definition of a “serious bodily injury,” we might be able to argue the injury was only a minor one. If we are successful, the prosecutor might decide to reduce the charges to a simple misdemeanor battery in violation of California Penal Code Section 242.
False accusation – In some cases, our attorneys may be able to show the allegations against you are false. There are situations where an alleged victim will make false allegations out of revenge, jealously, or to gain an advantage in a child custody battle against their spouse.
Aggravated Battery Related Offenses
Under California laws, there is a wide variety of closely related offenses to California Penal Code Section 243(d), battery causing serious bodily injury. These criminal offenses may be charged instead of, or along with aggravated battery. The most common include:
Penal Code Section 242 – Simple Battery Penal Code Sections 243(b) and 243(c) – Battery on a Peace Officer Penal Code Section 243(e) – Domestic Battery Penal Code Section 244 – Assault with Caustic Chemicals Penal Code Section 245(a)(4) – Assault Likely to Produce Great Bodily Injury Penal Code Section 273.5 - Corporal Injury on Spouse Penal Code Section 368 – Elder Abuse
It should be noted that in some situations, it might be in your best interest to negotiate any type of domestic violence charges to battery charges. For example, domestic violence offenses are considered crime that may result in deportation for undocumented immigrants.
Contact our Criminal Defense Lawyers
A conviction for battery causing serious bodily injury can have a have life-altering consequences. Therefore, if you have been accused or already arrested for violating California Penal Code Section 243(d), you should give the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Eisner Gorin LLP a call. Let us review the specific details in order to develop a legal strategy to defend you. Contact us at 877-781-1570.