Battery on a Peace / Police Officer - California Penal Code Section 243(b) / 243(c)


Jorge R. was feeling despondent about his loss of work and because he was experiencing some rocky times in his marriage.  One day Jorge was at his home with his adult son and Jorge’s wife.  Jorge had been drinking and was talking about taking his own life.  Jorge’s son called the police and the police entered the house for a welfare check.  When he saw the police, Jorge picked up a kitchen knife and raised it over his head in a threatening gesture at the police.  The police were able to disarm Jorge and he was charged with assault on a police officer.  I was able to steer Jorge into getting psychological counselling, to gather supporting documentation for Jorge and to convince the D.A. to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor assault with no jail time involved.  Jorge was placed on probation and when he successfully completed probation I was able to get his charges set aside.


P.C. 243(b) / 243(c), or battery on a peace/police officer, is the willful and unlawful touching of a peace officer or other protected person engaged in the performance of their duties.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of assault under P.C. 243(b) / 243(c), the prosecution must prove the following facts or elements:

  • The defendant willfully and unlawfully touched someone in a harmful or offensive manner; and
  • The victim is a peace officer or other protected person engaged in the performance of their duties; and
  • When the defendant committed the battery he/she knew or reasonably should have known the victim was a peace officer or other protected person performing their duties.

In addition to peace/police officer, the protected persons covered under the statute include:

  • Custodial officers;
  • Firefighters;
  • EMTs and paramedics;
  • Employees of a probation department; and
  • Doctors and nurses providing emergency medical care.


Battery on a peace/police officer is any unwanted and/or offensive touching of a person protected under this statute whether it causes injury or not.

Some examples of battery on a peace/police officer are:

Andy is drunk and belligerent on a public street. Ed is a police officer and is going to cite Andy for public intoxication. Andy gets extremely upset about the citation and spits on Ed, who arrests Andy for battery on a peace/police officer.     

Paul is Carl's probation officer. At the end of their regularly scheduled meeting Paul confronts Carl about missing his court-mandated anger management classes and tells him if he misses another he will violate his probation and be sent back to jail. Carl angrily shoves Paul out of the way as he leaves the office.

PENALTIES FOR P.C. 243(b) and 243(c)

A conviction for P.C. 243(b) / 243(c) will receive typical misdemeanor conditions unless the battery results in injuries, in which case it is a wobbler and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

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 two thousand dollars ($2000.)

A felony can result in the following penalties:

  • 5 years formal probation;
  • Sixteen (16) months, two (2) or three (3) years in county jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000.)

 COMMON DEFENSES FOR P.C. 243(b) and P.C. 243(c)

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 a peace/police officer (or other person who falls within the definitions of this law) and the initial 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 assault 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. Sometimes the police will add this charge when arresting someone who makes contact with them while handcuffed but had on intent to come in contact with the officer.

The officer was not in performance of his duties:

An officer is not considered in the performance of their duties if they are acting outside of the law, including wrongful arrests and detentions, wrongful searches and seizures and racial profiling. If the defendant committed the battery to prevent any of these they have a valid defense.


I have been practicing criminal defense for over 35 years.  I have represented people on many battery on a peace/police officer cases and have a proven record of success.  I will begin by combing the police reports for any helpful information and inconsistencies to benefit your case 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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