Battery On a Peace Officer
California laws created special rule for crimes committed against peace officer or protected official, known as a “special person.” The California Penal Code, under section 243 (b) and 243 (c)(2), define battery on a peace officer as “willfully and unlawful touching a peace officer or other protected official in a harmful or offensive manner, while the officer is engaged in the performance of the duties”. The statute defines the crime of battery against a special person in the following:
“ 243 (b) When a battery is committed against the person of a peace officer, custodial officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, lifeguard, security officer, custody assistant, process server, traffic officer, code enforcement officer, animal control officer, or search and rescue member engaged in the performance of his or her duties, whether on or off duty, including when the peace officer is in a police uniform and is concurrently performing the duties required of him or her as a peace officer while also employed in a private capacity as a part-time or casual private security guard or patrolman, or a nonsworn employee of a probation department engaged in the performance of his or her duties, whether on or off duty, or a physician or nurse engaged in rendering emergency medical care outside a hospital, clinic, or other health care facility, and the person committing the offense knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer, custodial officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, lifeguard, security officer, custody assistant, process server, traffic officer, code enforcement officer, animal control officer, or search and rescue member engaged in the performance of his or her duties, nonsworn employee of a probation department, or a physician or nurse engaged in rendering emergency medical care, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”
The difference between a simple battery and a battery committed on a public official are the type of the punishment and whether the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was a public official. In order for someone being convicted of battery on a public official, the prosecution must prove in court that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was a “special person.” However, this type of battery does not matter whether the defendant's conduct was done while the victim was on duty or off duty, so long as the defendant knew that the victim was a “special person”.
Example: Kevin is a police officer, and he works as a security guard (private security) in a nightclub as a part-time job. While Kevin was arriving at the nightclub wearing his police uniform. Mike, a regular nightclub client, out of nowhere, threw a glass bottle of beer onto Kevin’s leg.
In this case, even though Kevin was out of his police duties, he was using a police uniform, this evidence is enough for Mike reasonable know that Kevin is a police officer and he could be convicted of battery on a peace officer, under the Section 243, (b) of California Penal Code.
The statutes and Courts have established the victims that are protected under this crime. In order for a person be protect, the person/ victim must engage in the following professions:
- Peace officer
- Custodial officer
- Emergency medical technician
- Security officer
- Custody assistant
- Process server
- Traffic officer
- Code enforcement officer
- Animal control officer, or
- Search and rescue member engaged, including Doctors and Nurses providing emergency medical care.
In additionally, under section 243 (c) establishes an aggravated penalty if the victim gets injury, it is essential to specify that for a battery be considered, an unlawful offensive touching with the victim must happened, the victim does not need to get harm for someone being convicted of battery. However, if the victim gets hurt from the unlawful touching, the judge could aggravate the punishment of the defendant.
Example (1): A nurse tried to treat the patient with the IV, but he hates needle and he punched her on the face to avoid the treatment.
Example (2): A police officer, while doing a regular stop and frisk, asked Tom to frisk him, Tom did not understand why the police wanted to search him, he pushed the officer to the floor and run away.
Example (3): A lifeguard while trying to save a drunk woman of being drowning, she scratches his face and arm.
In order for someone being convicted of battery on a peace officer, the prosecution must prove in court the following requirements:
- The victim was a peace officer performing the duties.
- The defendant willfully and unlawfully touched the victim in a harmful or offensive manner.
- When the defendant acted, she/she knew, or reasonably should have known that the victim was a peace officer who was performing her/his duties.
Example: One night, in a nightclub, Felipe got into a fight with Brandon. Felipe grabbed a bottle of wine and threw at Brandon's face. It turns out that Brandon is a police officer trying to have fun at a nightclub. In this case, Felipe could not be charged of battery on a public official, since Felipe did not know that Brandon was a police officer and also Brandon was not on duty.
Penalties for battery on a peace officer
The offense of battery on a peace officer can be charged as either misdemeanor or a felony if the victim got harm or injury from the defendant's conduct. That is called wobbler in California, the prosecution has an option to charge the defendant with both crimes. The California Penal Code defines that " must be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 1 year or by imprisonment." Thus, the misdemeanor on a public official is punishable “by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”
However, if someone was charged as a felony, the penalties could be aggravating if the battery causes harm, injury or hurt to the victim. The jury will have to decide whether the victim had physical injury based on the seriousness of the damage. “An injury is any physical injury that requires professional medical treatment. The question whether an injury requires such treatment cannot be answered simply by deciding whether or not a person sought or received treatment. You may consider those facts, but you must decide this question based on the nature, extent, and seriousness of the injury itself.”1 Thus, a felony battery on a peace officer is punishable by a fine not exceeding 10 thousand dollars ($10,000) or by imprisonment in county jail not from sixteen (16) months to three (3) years, or both the fine and imprisonment.
A battery is a misdemeanor crime in California Law, if a person is convicted with this type of crime, the crime is going to be on the person's criminal records. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and there is a battery offense register, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone with a misdemeanor background. If you have been charged with assault, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Attorney has a great deal of success defending our clients and we can help you build legal defenses that it could be used to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful staff to help you with your legal problems.
To contest the charges of battery, San Diego Criminal Attorney would be able to use the following legal defenses:
● The conduct was in self-defense or third party defense:
The self-defense theory could be applied in battery charges if the client reasonably believes that there was an imminent danger of suffering body injury or being touched unlawfully, there is a reasonable believe that an immediate use of force was necessary to avoid the dangers, and the uses of force was reasonable necessary to defend against the danger.
● There was no willful conduct.
Sometimes the actions of the defendant were accidental or misunderstanding by the victim. Under this type of defense, it is essential that the defense attorney and the prosecution get the entire facts of the accident. If you have been charged with battery make sure you contact an attorney immediately. San Diego Criminal Attorney can help you build a strong defense, if you did not act willfully.
● Wrongfully accused:
Under the rules of California Law, it is too easy for a victim falsely accuse another of committing this crime, sometimes the cause of action is out of anger, revenge or jealousy. However, San Diego Criminal Attorney know how to protect its clients from wrongfully accusations. If this is your case, contact an attorney promptly.