What You Need to Know About Battery Charges in California
Some Californians facing battery charges assume that they are no big deal because they can be a misdemeanor crime. However, depending on your criminal history and the facts in the case, battery can be a felony.
Regardless of whether you’re facing felony or misdemeanor charges, you should seek a skilled California criminal defense attorney. This will ensure that you don’t say something incriminating in the early stages of your case that could lead to increased charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Let’s review cases in which battery charges could be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. However, know that this list is not fully inclusive as each case is different. Always seek counsel from an attorney before making assumptions about your case.
When is battery a felony?
Battery is a felony when it is aggravated battery. The prosecutor can seek aggravated battery charges in a variety of situations. The conditions for aggravated battery include the following.
- The defendant allegedly committed battery.
- There were aggravating circumstances, including using a gun, causing serious bodily injury or harm to the alleged victim.
When the second condition is not met, you’ll likely face simple battery charges. This is a misdemeanor offense. Simple battery takes place when a person engages in intentional and wrongful physical contact with another person.
This takes place without the other person’s consent. Simple battery is when there are no additional aggravating circumstances outside of the battery itself.
Here’s a look at some of the situations in which battery can become aggravated.
- Inflicting serious bodily injury in the course of a battery crime.
- Use of a deadly weapon in the course of committing a battery crime.
- Domestic violence situations that include battery or sexual battery.
- Battery against a police officer or other law enforcement professional.
- When the attacker is significantly stronger than the alleged victim.
- When battery injuries lead to severe or permanent disfigurement.
- Battery where the perpetrator intentionally inflicts severe harm on the victim.
- The defendant has a previous history of battery convictions.
Once the courts have determined that you are facing a felony battery charge, there are two levels of battery – first-degree battery and second-degree battery. You can face up to five years in prison if convicted of a felony battery charge. This prison sentence could be even greater based on the circumstances of the case.
Examples of simple battery
Once you’ve been charged with battery, you’ll likely hope to only face misdemeanor charges. That is possible based on the circumstances and evidence in your case. Here’s a look at some of the situations where you might face only simple battery charges.
- Someone pushes another person out of the way in a grocery store (though the defendant would need to be the weaker of the two in the case or of equal strength).
- A person throws a rock at another person of equal or greater strength than them.
- One person spits at another person who has been disrespectful toward them.
Misdemeanor battery charges carry far less severity. However, they’re still not something you want to just plead guilty to. You could face up to one year in prison, which can have a huge impact on your life.
One thing you should know about facing battery charges of any kind is that they are not the same as assault charges. Assault includes a willful attempt or threat to injure another person. Additionally, the perpetrator in assault must show the ability to carry out the threat or harm.
Your attorney will guide you through battery charges. One misstep could increase a misdemeanor charge to a felony charge so be careful what you say and do. If you’re facing battery charges, get in contact with us immediately. We’ll protect your rights and see to it that you have a fair trial.