Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury - California Penal Code Section 243(d)
Jose meets his brother Bill at a park every afternoon to pick him up from school. One day as Jose drove up to the park he saw that Bill was in a fight with another man. Jose jumped into the fight and began to beat the man up. Jose punched the guy, knocked him to the ground, and then body slammed him. Although the other man was sore and bruised and left with a black eye, I was able to convince the prosecutor that the injuries did not reach the severity of great bodily injury. As a result I was able to get the charges reduced to a simple battery. Jose received probation and some time on the Sheriff’s work project.
WHAT IS BATTERY CAUSING SERIOUS BODILY INJURY?
P.C. 243(d), or Aggravated Battery, is the willful touching of another person in a harmful or offensive manner that causes a serious bodily injury to the victim.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of battery under PC 243(d), the prosecution must prove the following facts or elements:
- The defendant committed a battery as defined in P.C. 242; and
- The battery caused a "serious bodily injury" in the victim.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of Battery under PC 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.
A "serious bodily injury" is defined in P.C. 243(d) as any serious impairment of someone's physical condition. Some examples (but not limited to are):
- Broken bones;
- Wounds requiring extensive suturing;
- Protracted loss or impairment of function of any body part or organ;
EXAMPLES OF AGGRAVATED BATTERY
Aggravated battery can occur when attacking a victim with a knife or bat and as a result of the attack causing some great bodily injury. It can also be charged when the battery was not intended to cause serious harm, such as punching or shoving the victim, who then falls down stairs, resulting in broken bones or a concussion.
Here are some examples of battery causing great bodily injury:
Ron and Bill have been in a fistfight that has lasted half an hour. Ron knocks Bill to the ground and starts to kick him several times. These kicks have broken several of Bill's ribs. Ron has committed battery causing serious bodily injury.
In the middle of a heated argument Tom grabs Steve by the shirt and pushes him hard into a wall. Steve hits his head against the wall very hard and gets a concussion. Tom has committed a battery causing great bodily injury even though he did not intend to give Steve a concussion.
PENALTIES FOR P.C. 243(d)
P.C. 243(d) is a wobbler and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, at the discretion of the prosecutor, based on the facts of the case and the criminal history of the defendant.
A misdemeanor can result in the following penalties:
- 3 years’ Summary probation;
- Up to one year in county jail; and/or
- A fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1000.)
A felony can result in the following penalties:
- 5 years’ formal probation;
- Two (2), three (3) or four (4) years in county jail or in state prison if the defendant personally inflicted great bodily injury (P.C. 1192.7©(8)) ; and/or
- A fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000.)
Felony aggravated battery may include a sentence enhancement of three (3) to six (6) additional years on top of the original sentence if the jury determines that the victim suffered "great bodily injury," or a more significant or substantial injury than "serious bodily injury." If the victim becomes comatose or paralyzed the enhancement is five (5) years. If the victims is over 70 years old the enhancement is five (5) years. If the victim is under 5 years old the enhancement is four (4), five (5) or six (6) years.
COMMON DEFENSES FOR P.C. 243(d)
The battery was an accident:
Battery requires a willful or intentional touching. If the defendant had no intention of touching the victim, for example fell or was pushed into the victim or accidentally pushed the victim it is a valid defense.
The injury suffered was not actually "serious":
There isn't an absolute definition of "serious bodily injury" under the law. A victim may exaggerate their injury or police may erroneously try to charge a more serious crime than is warranted under the circumstances. If this is true
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 force used was proportional to the threat, then there is a defense against prosecution.
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