Battery Serious Bodily Injury
There are many causes of aggression in human beings. The presence of provocation or an aggressive cue is enough to make someone violent. While some reasons for aggressive behavior are understandable, violence and battery are unacceptable in California. There are adequate laws in place to ensure that people relate well with one another, even when a person is highly provoked. If some form of provocation seems too much for you to take and you react unacceptably, the LA Criminal Defense Attorney can help you, even if yours is a case of Battery with Serious Bodily Injury. Our services are available for everyone in Los Angeles, California.
Legal Definition of Battery
In California, battery involves intentionally and illegally touching another person. This is a crime that is often used together with assault, both of which are provided under Section 240 of the California Penal Code. However, battery and assault are two different types of crimes, each with its various elements.
To be charged with battery, there must be evidence that you illegally touched another person in a harmful and offensive manner and that the action was intended. Note that slight touch, if done angrily or rudely, is enough to give a person a battery sentence, even if it does not cause any pain or injury.
There are different levels of battery, each of which is charged differently in California. These are:
Simple battery, which doesn’t involve any injuries or harm to the victim
Aggravated battery, which is a more severe form of this crime, involving severe bodily injury
Battery with Serious Bodily Injury or commonly called Aggravated Battery is a form of battery crime in California covered under Section 243(d) of the California laws. A person can be charged with aggravated battery if:
They willingly touch another person in a harmful or offensive manner
If the person battered has sustained serious bodily injuries
Crimes of violence are on the rise not just in California but in the entire country. For this reason, it is possible to be falsely accused of battery, assault or aggravated battery even when such a crime has not occurred. Sometimes it becomes hard for a person to hold themselves especially when they are attacked and in the process of defending themselves, they end up injuring their attacker. If this ever happens, it helps to know that you can always rely on the help and support of a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, for advice and representation in court if you get arrested.
Great bodily injury as used in this crime is a legal term that refers to exactly what it says. All substantial or significant injuries that one sustains will be charged under this crime. The word is broad, relating to all types of physical injuries, not financial or emotional. Even though the focus is on the significant injuries, the victim does not have to suffer severe or permanent injuries for the perpetrator to be condemned of aggravated battery.
For that reason, the prosecutors, juries or judges have to analyze the evidence presented before the court and to consider some factors in deciding on the best penalty for a particular crime. Some of the factors to be discussed include:
How severe the injury is
How much is the resulting pain
Whether or not the victim requires any medical care
Note that the kind of injury accepted to convict a person of severe bodily harm has to be more severe than the average or typical injury that is considered in a standard battery case. Here are some examples of damages that a court can accept as severe:
If someone commands a dog to bite another, the dog bite may be recognized as a severe injury by the court.
If there are broken bones such as jaw fractures a fractured nose, and a broken limb
The presence of a black or swollen eye where the bruises are still visible after four months
If someone throws something hot to another, could be hot water or grease, which results in blistering or in some cases, second-degree burns are sustained
If someone beats another with a wooden stick or a blunt object and there are swelling, contusions and maybe severe discoloration a day after the incident
Vaginal soreness after a rape, or bloody bruises and abrasions on the knees, perhaps with a painful neck
Strangling a person to the point that they are almost passing out
Penalties for Battery with Serious Bodily Injury
The crime of Battery with Serious Bodily injury is a wobbler in California, which means that it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
If you are charged with a felony, you could get a sentence of between two to four years and or a fine of up to 10,000. For a misdemeanor charge, you get to pay a fine of up to $1000 and/or a county jail sentence for not more than one year.
However, these penalties vary greatly on who the victim is, and the extent of harm the defendant has caused in his/her body.
Crimes Related to Battery with Serious Bodily Injury
Domestic violence resulting in serious bodily injury
In California, minor domestic arguments are enough to make a person get arrested and charged with a crime. From what has been witnessed in the past, lawmakers have enough reasons to believe that most domestic violence issues result in serious bodily injury and sometimes murder. That is why there are stringent measures in place to curb this kind of crime in the state. However, not all domestic scuffles result in serious bodily injury and so; they can be treated as minor crimes, attracting lesser penalties.
However, if someone sustains severe bodily injuries as a result of domestic violence, the judge is forced by law to announce a steeper penalty. The crime of domestic violence is a wobbler in California, but for an offense that leaves the victim sustaining severe injuries in his/her body, the crime will be a straight case of a felony.
It is important to note that the history of the defendant will significantly determine the decision the prosecutor will take, on whether or not to treat the violence as a felony or misdemeanor. If in the end the defendant is convicted of a felony offense, he will get severe jail time and/or a hefty fine. The sentence is in most cases accompanied by a need for the perpetrator to attend counseling. The judge will also, more often than not, issue a restraining order to prevent the defendant from having any contact with his/her victim. The rule will also avoid any indirect contact that the defendant can use, including friends and relatives.
For a case of injury to a spouse, resulting in serious bodily harm, the defendant can get at least 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison. The prosecutor must, however, prove that the defendant acted with intent and that serious injuries were sustained as a result of the violence. A spouse, in this case, means a marriage partner, a living-in partner, the parent of your child or a former partner which you first lived with.
Elder abuse resulting in serious bodily injury
Elder abuse is also a prevalent crime in California, maybe because the elderly are quite vulnerable and helpless and some are not aware of how to report a crime. Section 368 of California Laws protect the elderly against any kinds of abuse and even with such a law in place; there are many cases of abuse on senior citizens, sometimes leaving the victims with serious bodily injuries.
Just like many battery crimes in the state, elder abuse is a wobbler, and so, it can be treated as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the nature of the crime and the prosecutor handling the case. If a person willfully and illegally subjected an elder or a dependent adult to physical pain or mental pain or allowed it to be done by another person, they can be charged with elder abuse. The prosecutor must, however, prove the crime, verify that the defendant had a legal duty to care for the victim and that the defendant knew that the victim was 65 years of age or over.
In some instances, the conduct exhibited by the defendant against an elder could result in serious bodily injuries and even to death. This will be a straight case of a felony offense, attraction severe punishments such as a fine of up to $10,000, a mandatory court-approved program, between 2 and four years in a state prison or county jail and formal probation.
Some of these crimes will cause a strike on your record, and in case the battery resulted to the death of the elder, the defendant will be sentenced to up to 7 years in a state jail with no probation.
Provided under Section 261 of the California Penal Code, rape is a grave matter in California. The crime is legally defined as sexual intercourse without consent, one which has been accomplished by threat, force or inflicting fear and is done on a person who is not the perpetrator’s spouse. For a charge of rape to be sustained, the prosecutor has to prove the following:
That indeed sexual intercourse happened between the defendant and the victim
That the victim is not the defendant's spouse. If the victim were his/her spouse, the crime would now be treated as spousal rape, which is a different kind of offense.
That the victim did not consent to the intercourse
That the defendant threatened, used force or inflicted fear in his/her victim before raping them.
Most cases of rape involve violence and force and so, could result in serious bodily injuries to the victims.
The crime of rape in California is not a wobbler, and so, you do not get a misdemeanor sentence if you are found guilty. What you get is a felony sentence, which could be punished with between 3 to 8 years in state prison and formal probation, accompanied by a maximum sentence of one year in county jail.
If a rape victim sustained severe bodily injuries, the penalties above would not be sufficient punishment to the kind of crime the defendant committed. The sentence has to be enhanced, and in this case, the perpetrator can get additional three or five years in the state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. There is also the possibility of a strike in your criminal record, as per the state’s Three Strikes Law.
In addition to these penalties, the defendant may be required to register as a sex offender as per Section 290, failure to which he/she will face another felony charge.
The battery on a peace officer resulting in serious bodily injury
Sections 243 (b & c) of the California Penal Code protect peace officers against any offensive and unlawful touch, especially when done in a harmful or offensive manner. Peace officers is a general term that is used to refer to all protected persons such as police officers, firefighters, custodial officers, emergency medical technicians and nurses, doctors and medical caregivers offering emergency services among others.
Section 243(c) of the state's law makes it illegal to knowingly batter and harm a protected officer and inflict an injury on them while the officer is performing his/her duties. If it is established that you intentionally injured a peace officer while he/she was performing their duties, knowing too well that the person you are hurting is a peace officer, you will be charged with aggravated battery against a peace officer.
The punishment for this will be a fine of not more than $10,000, and/or imprisonment in county jail for not more than one year. You could also get 16 months or two or three years in state prison, together with or in place of the fine.
Again, battery against a peace officer resulting in serious bodily injury is a wobbler and so, can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. The court's decision will be influenced by the circumstances of the offense, the defendant's criminal history and the seriousness of the injuries sustained by the peace officer.
A felony offense will be punished as above, but it could include formal probation, whereby the defendant is given probation instead of a state jail. In this case, the defendant will serve his/her time in the community under supervision for a period between three to five years. In case the defendant violates his/her probation, the probation will be revoked, and he/she will be sent to jail for the maximum sentence.
Assault with a deadly object
Provided in Section 245 (a) of California Laws, assault with a deadly weapon is a form of an aggravated battery, which involves causing severe bodily injuries to a victim through the use of a deadly weapon. Unlike other assault cases, this crime is severely punished in California, as it can lead to serious bodily harm on a victim.
To be charged for this crime, the prosecutor must, first of all, prove that you indeed assaulted someone. If you had the intentions to hurt another person and you picked up a deadly weapon to engage them in a physical assault, which resulted to severe injuries, you will, in no doubt, be found guilty of battery with serious bodily injury.
In addition to that, the prosecutor must produce the deadly weapon with which you attacked your victim. The court has to prove that the sustained injuries were indeed caused by the lethal weapon for the defendant to be convicted.
Some of the deadly weapons that can be used to support this crime include guns, bombs, knives or even machetes among others. Sometimes some everyday objects can be presented as evidence before a court, including a lamp, a baseball bat and smaller items like pencils. What matters is that there is proof that an object, however small it may seem, has been used violently to cause severe injuries on another person.
If a person is convicted of a felony assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injuries, they could be sentenced to up to four years in county jail and/or a fine of a maximum of $10,000. If the assault was done using a gun, the court will consider the weapon a nuisance and will destroy it.
Possible Defenses to Battery Charges
Depending on the nature of the crime, there are possible defenses that a defendant, with the help of a criminal defense attorney, can utilize to help the defendant get a fair sentence. Some of these are:
This is the most common defense in crimes involving battery and assault. For this defense to work, you need a smart attorney by your side, who can help argue and prove that you acted the way you did to defend yourself or another person. If you assaulted a police officer, for instance, seriously injuring him/her, it could be because the officer was using excessive force than necessary to arrest you or another person and without intending to hurt the officer, you acted quickly without thinking. Your attorney must, however, prove that you acted without intent and that indeed the officer was harassing you or the other person and so, you needed to defend yourself.
There are many instances where people are arrested because they look like perpetrators of certain crimes. If this ever happened to you, your attorney must be able to prove that you were not the one who committed the crime. If you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were not anywhere near where the crime was committed, the court will have no other choice than to let you go.
So many people are falsely accused on a day to day basis in the country, and so, this could happen to you as well. You may have had an altercation with the victim but if it did not result to serious bodily injury and the victim accused you of the crime; your attorney should be able to prove that your actions did not lead to the injuries sustained by the victim. A close medical examination might be able to show that the injuries on the victim were not suffered the way he/she said they were.
For one to be convicted of the crime of battery, there must be proof that he/she had the intentions of hurting their victim. If therefore your attorney can argue that the action that you took was unintentional or involuntary, you may be sentenced to a lesser crime with lesser penalties. The offense could, in the end, be seen as a mere accident, clearing the defendant of any criminal liability.
Defenses That May Not Be Viable
Voluntary intoxication will not be accepted as a defense in case you caused severe injuries on another person. The court believes that the defendant already knows that excess intoxication affects their mental functioning; therefore he/she should be held responsible for whatever happens when they are under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Provocation is also not a viable defense in the crime of battery. However much you are aggravated, you are not allowed by law to act violently towards another person. Sometimes words can be very offensive or exasperating, but this is not enough justification to commit a crime. Even a simple assault is severely punished in California.