Battery - California Penal Code Section 242

Actual Case

Omar became enraged when a neighbor continually would park in Omar’s parking space at the apartment complex.  One day, when the neighbor had stolen Omar’s space Omar tried and tried to get the car towed, to no avail.  Finally, Omar saw the neighbor leaving to his car.  Omar stopped the neighbor, confronted him, and then punched the neighbor in the face.  The punch left no mark and caused no injuries.  I gathered letters of recommendation from Omar’s employers and colleagues and had Omar attend anger management classes.  As a result, I was able to get Omar’s charges diverted and eventually get them dismissed when he completed the classes.


P.C. 242, or battery, is any unwanted physical contact with another person whether or not it results in an injury.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of Battery under P.C. 242, the prosecution must prove the following facts or elements:

  • The defendant touched another person;
  • The defendant’s act was willful; and
  • The touching was done in a harmful or offensive manner.


Any unwanted physical contact that was done willfully constitutes a battery, even if it does not result in any injury. It often accompanies the charge of P.C. 240, assault, which is a threatened battery with the ability to carry it out.

Battery does not require an injury to sustain a charge. A battery that causes a serious injury can be charged under P.C. 243(d), battery causing serious bodily injury, a more serious charge.

Here are some examples of battery:

Al and Steve are at a party at a mutual friend's house. They have never gotten along and an argument starts between them. Al punches Steve. Al can be charged with a P.C. 242, battery, whether or not Steve is injured by the punch.

Frank is throwing a back yard barbecue for some friends and his guests are having a good time. Frank's neighbor, Dianne, leans over the fence between their properties and asks them to be quieter. Frank's friend Steve throws a beer bottle that hits Dianne.  Steve has committed a battery.


P.C. 242, simple battery, is a misdemeanor and can result in the following penalties:

  • Three years’ Summary probation;
  • Up to six (6) months in county jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000.)


Self-defense or Defense of Others:

If the defendant reasonably believed that they or another individual was likely to suffer physical harm from an application of force from another party and the use of force was proportional to the threat, then there is a defense against prosecution.

Lack of Intent:

A defendant who did not willfully intend to commit the battery can use the lack of intent as a defense against prosecution. If the victim misinterpreted the actions of the defendant or if the act was accidental or unintentional then this is a viable defense.

Parental right to discipline a child:

A parent has the right to use physical force to discipline their child as long as the force is "reasonable" and not excessive under the circumstances.


I have been practicing criminal defense for over 35 years.  I have represented people on hundreds of battery cases and have a proven record of success.  I will begin by combing the police reports for any helpful information and inconsistencies and then will meet with you to discuss your side of the story and to determine possible defenses.  I employ a team of investigators, legal researchers, and expert witnesses that will help present the strongest possible case.    I served for over sixteen years as a Judicial Officer of the Sacramento Superior Court and have established key relationships that can be used to greatly benefit my clients.  I will aggressively fight for you to get you the best possible result on your assault case including taking the case to trial if needed.  Call Foos Gavin Law Firm at (916) 779-3500 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a no-cost initial consultation."

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