The California PC 243d outlines the crime of aggravated battery, also known as battery causing serious bodily injury. You may face charges under PC 243d if you touch or strike another person in an offensive or harmful manner, making them suffer serious physical harm or injury. The violation of PC 243d is a wobbler offense, meaning it may attract felony or misdemeanor charges. Whether you face felony or misdemeanor charges will depend on the extent of injuries you inflict on the victim and the case's circumstances. If you need a reliable legal defense to fight battery with severe bodily injury charges, contact Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm.
Elements of Battery With Serious Bodily Injury
For the prosecutor to accuse of battery with serious bodily injury, they must prove the following elements of the crime:
- You unlawfully and intentionally touched another person in an offensive and harmful manner
- The victim suffered severe bodily harm due to the force of your touching
Willfully committing a criminal act means that you acted on purpose.
Touching Someone Unlawfully
For PC 243d, a touch occurs when you make physical contact with another person. The touch could be on the person's bare skin or through their clothing. For example, you may be arguing with an opponent when standing on the front steps of a building. In the heart of the argument, you get overcome by anger, making you shove the other person. This makes them lose balance, falling on the steps and fracturing their foot. You may be guilty of battery causing serious injury because even if you did not touch the victim forcefully, the touch was enough to make them slip and fall, making them suffer significant bodily harm.
You do not have to touch a victim directly to be guilty of unlawful touching. However, you may touch a victim unlawfully by making someone else touch them or causing an object to touch them. For example, you may be guilty of unlawful touching if you throw an object at a victim, making them suffer significant bodily injury.
Serious Bodily Harm
Under PC 243d, severe bodily harm means a severe impairment of another person's physical condition. It is important to note that medical treatment or hospitalization is not necessary for an injury to qualify as a serious bodily injury. The judge or the jury will decide whether or not a given injury qualifies as serious bodily injury. This decision will vary from case to case because the judge will examine all the case facts. In the past, many courts in California have found the following injuries to qualify as severe bodily injuries:
- When the victim loses consciousness
- A loss of tooth up to its root
- Broken bones, bone fractures, or severe disfigurement
- Wounds on the lips or eyebrows requiring sutures
- A broken tooth
- A cut under the eye, which requires eight stitches or more
Penalties For Battery Causing Bodily Injury
The violation of California PC 243d is a wobbler offense that may attract felony or misdemeanor charges. Whether the prosecutor charges you with a felony or misdemeanor will depend on your criminal history and the facts of your case. If the prosecutor charges you with misdemeanor battery, the penalties for the offense will include:
- Confinement in a county jail for a period not exceeding one year
- A fine that does not exceed $1,000
If the prosecutor charges the violation of PC 243d as a felony, the penalties will include:
- A jail time that does not exceed four years
- A fine that does not exceed $10,000
Penalty Enhancement Under PC 12022.7
If you commit battery and the victim suffers significant bodily injury, you will face a penalty enhancement under the California PC 12022.7. This enhancement allows the judge or the jury to impose additional imprisonment if a defendant inflicts a substantial bodily injury on the victim in the commission of a felony offense. Under this penalty enhancement, you will face an additional three to six years in state prison. This additional term will be consecutive. This means that you will serve it immediately after completing the imprisonment for felony violation of PC 243d.
This penalty enhancement will only apply if the prosecutor charges the battery with serious bodily injury as a felony. The enhancement will not apply if the prosecutor charges the crime as a misdemeanor. A significant bodily injury is any injury that is greater than moderate or minor. Substantial bodily injury is limited to physical harm. Therefore, the following do not count as significant bodily injury:
- Financial losses
- Emotional scars
In most cases, significant bodily injury comprises major traumas like paralysis and brain damage. However, the significant bodily injury does not have to be overly severe or permanent. The defendant must have personally inflicted significant physical damage on the victim for this sentence enhancement to apply. The judge will mainly consider three factors when determining whether an injury qualifies as significant bodily injury:
- The severity of the injury
- The physical pain that resulted from the injury
- Whether the victim requires immediate medical attention
How Long The Imprisonment Term Will Be Under PC 12022.7 Enhancement
If the defendant causes significant bodily injury while committing aggravated battery, they will face a penalty enhancement translating to three to six year’s imprisonment in state prison. This enhancement is for a felony conviction of battery with significant bodily injury. The exact length of the severe physical injury enhancement will vary depending on the facts of a case. However, the following statutes provide some guidance:
- According to California PC 12022.7(a), the rule is that inflicting significant bodily injury on the victim will lead to additional and consecutive imprisonment of three years in state prison.
- California PC 12022.7(b) states that if a victim suffers paralysis or becomes comatose because of a brain injury, the defendant will be subject to an additional and consecutive term of up to five years in state prison.
- According to PC 12022.7(c), if the defendant imposes serious bodily injury on a victim above 70 years, they will face an additional and consecutive prison term of five years.
- The California PC 12022.7(d) states that the defendant will face additional imprisonment of six years in state prison if they commit a felony and inflict serious bodily injury on a child below five years.
- According to PC 12022.7(e), inflicting significant bodily injury in a case involving domestic violence will lead to additional and consecutive imprisonment of five years in state prison.
Difference Between Great Bodily Injury And Serious Bodily Injury
California law differentiates between great bodily injury and serious bodily injury. Compared to great bodily harm, the infliction of serious bodily injury is less extreme. It mainly refers to moderate injuries or moderate impairment of a physical condition. The typical examples of severe bodily injuries include disfigurement, a loss of consciousness, and concussion.
Common Legal Defenses For Battery With Great Bodily Injury
If you face charges for violation of PC 243d, you can use several legal defenses to fight the charges. The three common defenses used in fighting battery with bodily injury charges are:
You Acted In Self Defense
For you to use the legal self-defense defense to fight battery charges, all of the following factors should be correct:
- You believed that you or someone else was in danger of imminent harm of suffering significant bodily injury
- You thought that the use of force was necessary to defend yourself or the other person against the imminent danger
- You did not use more force than was required to protect yourself against the danger
You Did Not Inflict Serious Bodily Injury On The Victim
You will only face battery with serious bodily injury or aggravated battery if you inflict serious physical harm on the victim. In other circumstances, you are likely to face simple battery charges. You could fight your criminal charges by pointing out that the victim did not suffer serious bodily injury even if you committed a battery offense. The determination of whether the victim sustained significant bodily injury or not is for the judge to decide. The judge will consider all facts of your case while making this determination.
You Hurt The Victim By Accident
For a battery with serious bodily injury charges to apply, it should be evident that you acted on purpose or willfully. You could fight charges under PC 243d by pointing out that you did not do it intentionally, even if you committed the crime. For example, you may have accidentally hurt the victim only for the prosecutor to charge you with aggravated battery. Even if you did not intend to injure the victim, you could face battery charges as long as you touched the victim willfully. However, if the touch was not intentional, battery charges will not apply. For example, you cannot face battery charges if you accidentally slip and fall on someone, making them suffer serious bodily injury. You shouldn't also face battery charges if you accidentally shoved another person in a crowd.
Certain offenses under California law are closely related to the crime of aggravated battery. The prosecutor may charge you with the related crimes alongside or instead of a battery. The related offenses include:
Simple Battery — PC 242
The California PC 242 outlines the crime of simple battery. Simple battery refers to the willful and illegal use of force or violence against another person. You may face simple battery charges even if a victim does not suffer any injuries or experience any pain. The prosecutor needs to prove c that you offensively touched the victim. If the prosecutor fails to prove the outlined factors, you are not guilty of battery under PC 242.
Touching another person means that you had physical contact with them. The slightest form of touching may qualify as a battery. You may face battery charges even if you touch a victim through their clothing or indirectly. Touching the victim indirectly means that you use an object to touch them. The law also outlines that you may face simple battery charges if you offensively touch something intimately connected to the victim. For example, battery charges may apply if you knock an object out of the victim's hand. You will only face battery charges if you touch the victim willfully. This means that you act on purpose or intentionally. Acting deliberately does not mean that you intended to:
- Break the law
- Gain an advantage
- Hurt the victim
You will only face battery charges if you touch the victim in an offensive or harmful manner. An offensive touch is:
Many people often confuse battery with assault or assume that the two terms mean the same thing because of the prevalent use of the common phrase assault and battery. However, the two terms mean different things. For example, you may face assault charges if you engage in an act that may lead to unwanted or offensive touching of another person. On the other hand, battery, as outlined under PC 242, refers to the actual infliction of force.
An assault may not involve physical touch, but battery consists in touching the victim. In other words, the battery is like a completed assault, while assault is an attempted battery. You will face misdemeanor charges if you violate PC 242 and the battery does not involve a peace officer and does not cause significant bodily injury. The potential penalties for battery are:
- Summary or misdemeanor probation
- A jail time of not more than six months in a county jail
- A fine that does not exceed $2,000
You can employ several legal defenses to fight battery charges under PC 242. The best way to fight the charges is by seeking the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can fight the charges by pointing out that:
- You acted in self-defense or defense of someone else
- You did not act on purpose or willfully
- You were exercising your parental right to discipline your child. If you claim that you were exercising your parental right to discipline your child, it should be evident that you used reasonable force that was not excessive under the circumstances.
Mayhem — PC 203
The California PC 203 defines the crime of mayhem. You may face mayhem charges if you engage in any of the following:
- You deprive the other person of a part of their body, such as a limb
- You disfigure, disable, or render useless another person’s body part
- Disable or cut another person’s tongue
- Pull out another person’s eye
- Slit another person’s lip, ear, or nose
If you intentionally cause another person permanent disability, you will face aggravated mayhem charges outlined by California PC 205. Many people are not familiar with the crime of mayhem because it is not as common as aggravated battery or torture. However, mayhem is a severe crime under California law, with detrimental consequences. You can only face mayhem charges under PC 203 if you act maliciously.
Acting maliciously means that you commit a wrongful act intentionally. It also means that you act with an unlawful intent to injure or annoy another person. If you act entirely by accident, the prosecutor cannot accuse you of mayhem. You only need to prove that you had no intent to do something wrong or injure the victim in a manner that leaves them with a disability that is more than slight or temporary. The disability does not need to be permanent for mayhem charges to apply. You will face mayhem charges if you inflict a permanent disfigurement on another person. You should note the following regarding permanent disfigurement:
- Even if it is possible to repair an injury through medical technology, the damage may still be considered a permanent disfigurement.
- If you cut off another person’s finger intentionally, you may face charges even if it is possible for the doctor to re-attach the finger. The prosecutor could still accuse you of inflicting a permanent disfigurement on the victim.
- Any disfigurement of a concealed body part may qualify as permanent disfigurement
According to California law, mayhem is a felony offense. The penalties for the crime include:
- Formal or felony probation
- Imprisonment of two, four, or eight years in a state prison
- A fine that does not exceed $10,000
You may face a penalty enhancement if any of the following factors is correct:
- The victim is blind or deaf
- The victim is sixty-five years or older
- The victim is developmentally disabled
- A victim is below 14 years
- You commit mayhem on a quadriplegic or paraplegic
If any of the outlined factors is confirmed, you will face a sentence enhancement of one to two years. In addition, you will face the penalty enhancement if you knew or should have known about the nature of the victim or facts about the victim.
Assault With A Deadly Weapon
You may face assault with a deadly weapon charge under PC 245 a (1) if you attack or try to attack another person using a deadly weapon in a manner that may cause significant bodily injury. To accuse you of assault with a deadly weapon, the prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime:
- You committed an act that could have resulted in the application of force on another person
- While performing the said act, you used a lethal weapon or force that could lead to significant bodily injury
- You acted willfully
- When you committed the crime, you were aware that a reasonable person would think that your actions could directly apply
- When you committed the offense, you had the present ability to apply force on the victim, using a lethal weapon or a force that could cause significant bodily injury.
The victim does not need to sustain injuries for you to face an attack with a deadly weapon charge. The prosecutor only has to prove that your actions could have led to the application of force on another person. According to California law, application of force is any form of harmful or offensive touching. A touch could be offensive even if it was not direct. For example, you could have used an object to touch the victim. Therefore, you could face charges even if you fail in applying force on the victim.
You will face charges provided you take an action that could have resulted in the application of force to someone else. A deadly weapon refers to an object or weapon that can produce significant bodily injury or death. Some of the obvious deadly weapons include knives and guns. A weapon is deadly, provided it can inflict serious harm on someone or cause death. Assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If the prosecutor charges the crime as a misdemeanor, the penalties will include:
- Summary or misdemeanor probation
- Custody in a California county jail for not more than one year
- A fine of not more than $1,000
If the prosecutor charges the offense as a felony, the potential penalties include:
- Formal or felony probation
- Imprisonment of not more than four years in a state prison
- A fine of not more than $10,000
You could face enhanced penalties if the assault with a deadly weapon involved a firearm or was committed on a firefighter or a police officer. You can use several legal defenses to fight assault with a deadly weapon charge:
- You can state that even if you committed an assault, you did not use a deadly weapon
- You can also point out that you did not act willfully
- Another common legal defense is pointing out that you were acting in self-defense or defense of another person.
Find A Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you’re currently facing battery with serious injury charges, there is hope for you. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can create a convincing defense to fight your charges. We invite you to contact us at Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm. Our attorneys will work with you to get the best outcome for your case. Call us at 951-946-6366 and speak to one of our attorneys.