Battery in California (California Penal Code 242)

There are many penal code sections that make up the crime of battery in California.  The law surrounding the crime of battery can be very confusing.  Depending on the nature of the offense, and the type of victim that the battery is committed against, a battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.  Whether it is "simple" misdemeanor battery, which carries a maximum county jail sentence of six (6) months, or certain types of sexual battery, which carries a maximum state prison sentence of four (4) years, an arrest for battery is very serious.  In this section, we will be focusing on simple misdemeanor battery under Penal Code section 242.  For more information on many of the other types of battery, please visit our other crimes pages.


What is battery under Penal Code Section 242?

A battery is "the willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another."  Many people are under the common misconception that battery means that the person must actually be harmed or injured in some manner.  However, in California, the mere offensive touching of another person can be considered battery.  For example, something as simple as spitting on someone is considered battery, and can result in your arrest and very hefty penalties.  


In order for the prosecution to be able to convict you for the crime of misdemeanor battery, the prosecution must prove:

     1)  You touched someone else;

     2)  Willfully; and

     3) In a harmful or offensive manner.

Therefore, it is important to note that the prosecution must prove that you actually intended to touch a person in a harmful or offensive manner.  Therefore, a potential defense to a charge of battery is that you did not actually intend to touch the person.


What are the penalties for battery?

Under Penal Code 242 battery, if you are convicted of battery, you could face up to six (6) months in county jail, and/or have to pay fines up to $2,000.  The penalties become more strict if the person is actually injured, or if the victim falls into a special category.  


What are my defenses to a battery charge?

If you or a loved one is charged with battery, there are several defense that you may be able to use in order to have the charges dismissed.  A couple of the defenses include:  1)  You were acting in self defense; and/or  2)  You did not act willfully, or intend to cause the harmful or offensive touching.  These are just a couple of the defenses, and you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case in more detail.


San Bernardino County Criminal Defense Attorney

Victorville Attorney, Nicholas Martell, has experience in representing clients in many types of battery cases, and possesses the knowledge of the law to assist you in obtaining the best possible result in your case.  We are currently proudly serving clients in Adelanto, Barstow, Hesperia, Victorville, Oak Hills, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Chino, Riverside, Pomona, West Covina, and Lancaster.  Call us today at 760-948-0630 to schedule your consultation.