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Battery With Serious Bodily Injury

The crime of battery occurs when you touch or strike another person offensively or harmfully. Prosecutors file battery charges even if the victim does not sustain an injury. But the charges become graver when your actions result in a serious injury. A serious injury aggravates your sentence and penalties, leading to a more extended prison or jail time and a heftier court fine. You will also face other life-changing consequences that could impact your life long after serving your sentence.

It helps to think of ways in which you can obtain a fair outcome for your case if you face charges for battery with a serious bodily injury in Palm Desert. Our skilled criminal attorneys at Desert Defense Lawyers can help develop a solid defense that could compel the prosecutor or judge to reduce or dismiss your charges. Our team will protect your rights and help you navigate the complex legal system successfully.

The Legal Meaning of Battery With Serious Bodily Injury

According to PC 242, you commit battery when you willfully and unlawfully use violence or force against another person. The crime still counts even if the other person does not sustain an injury or experience pain. A simple battery charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by a six-month jail sentence and $1,000 in court fines.

The prosecutor files simple battery charges when there are mitigating or no aggravating factors in your case. For example, if it is your first offense, and the victim does not sustain an injury or experience pain, the prosecutor can file simple battery charges against you. However, if your case has aggravating factors like excruciating pain or a serious bodily injury, your offense becomes aggravated battery and could result in more severe penalties. Prosecutors determine your charges based on the circumstances of your case and your criminal history.

If you commit battery and it results in a serious bodily injury, the prosecutor will file charges against you under PC 243(d). This will occur when you strike or touch another person in an offensive or harmful manner, causing them to sustain a serious injury. The offense is a wobbler, meaning the prosecutor can file misdemeanor or felony charges. You could face a sentence of up to four years if found guilty under this law.

But before then, the prosecutor must demonstrate this offense's elements beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements are as follows:

  • You unlawfully and intentionally touched another person in an offensive or harmful manner,
  • The person sustained a serious bodily injury due to the touching or force you used against them.

For this statute, note the following:

  • The touch must be unlawful or uncalled for. The other person must not welcome it or be against their consent.
  • The touch must be willful, meaning you must have intended or done it purposefully. However, this does not mean that you intend to harm the person, break the law, or gain an advantage over them.

Touch is any physical contact you establish with the other person, whether directly on their skin or indirectly through their clothing. You can also touch a person using an independent object, not necessarily your body part.

Example: When the headteacher confronts Ben for cheating in an exam, Ben angrily pushes him to the side on his way out of the headteacher’s office. Sadly, the teacher falls and seriously injures his head.

It could be that Ben did not intend to harm the headteacher or break any law, but his actions caused the teacher to sustain an injury. Additionally, Ben did not use excessive force, but the force was enough to cause the teacher to fall hard. In this case, Ben is guilty under PC 243(d) for battery and causing serious bodily injury to his teacher.

A Serious Bodily Injury

A serious bodily injury distinguishes a simple battery charge from an aggravated charge. It means that the victim sustained an impairment in their physical condition due to your actions. However, they do not necessarily have to receive medical treatment for it to be considered severe. Here are examples of physical conditions that can support charges under PC 243(d):

  • If a victim loses one or more teeth from the roots,
  • If they lose consciousness,
  • If they sustained a cut under their eye requiring several stitches
  • They suffered a broken tooth or teeth, facial wounds, or a cut on the lip requiring suturing
  • If they broke or fractured their bones
  • They suffered severe disfigurement

Prosecutors charge criminal cases on a case-to-case basis, depending on the facts and the defendant’s criminal history. But you can fight your charges for a reduction or dismissal with compelling evidence and arguments. Hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you develop and present solid evidence for a fair outcome in your case is advisable.

Possible Penalties for Charges Under PC 243(d)

The crime of battery resulting in a severe bodily injury is a wobbler. This means that the prosecutor can file misdemeanor or felony charges against you, depending on the facts of your case and your criminal history. A misdemeanor conviction will result in less severe penalties than a felony conviction.

Here are the penalties you will likely receive after a misdemeanor conviction:

  • A one-year jail sentence
  • Misdemeanor probation
  • A maximum of $1,000 in court fines.

The prosecutor can send you on probation instead of jail. It means that you will serve your sentence out of incarceration. You can return to your family,  job, or business and continue your life. But the judge will give you some conditions to abide by throughout the probation period.

For example, they could order you to take anger management lessons, undergo drug or alcohol treatment, take part in community service, and not commit any crime while on probation. You must also submit periodic reports to the court about your progress. The judge can revoke your probation and send you to jail for the required period if you violate it.

A felony conviction for battery and causing a serious bodily injury will likely result in the following penalties:

  • A maximum four-year jail sentence
  • Felony probation
  • A maximum of $10,000 in court fines.

The judge can also place you on felony probation but could require you to serve part of your sentence in jail and the rest out of incarceration. Felony probation is stricter than misdemeanor probation. You will be under the close supervision of a probation officer. The officer will monitor your progress and write periodic reports to the court.

If you violate probation, the judge can revoke it and send you to jail or prison for the recommended period.

Penalty Enhancement

You could be subject to a sentence enhancement under PC 12022.7 for causing the victim to sustain a great bodily injury. A great bodily injury is a significant physical injury. Examples include the following:

  • A concussion
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Contusions
  • A gunshot wound
  • 2nd- or 3rd-degree burns.

The judge will not enhance your sentence if your victim’s injuries are less severe or include financial loss or emotional scarring. An enhancement means that the judge will impose additional prison time on what you receive for a battery conviction. In this case, you could receive an additional prison sentence of three to six years. You must serve the added time consecutively with the time you receive for the underlying felony.

Note: Penalty enhancement only applies when the underlying charge is a felony, not a misdemeanor. If the prosecutor files misdemeanor charges against you under PC 243(d), you are not subject to penalty enhancement.

Also, great bodily injuries are different from serious ones, according to the law. The former results in penalty enhancement in felony charges, while the latter only applies in criminal battery cases. Thus, if you are arrested for battery and causing your victim a serious injury, the prosecutor will file charges for aggravated battery under PC 243(d).

Other Consequences of a Conviction Under PC 243(d)

All criminal convictions result in life-changing consequences. It helps to think about them after your arrest to determine the defense you will develop against your charges.

A conviction under this statute, whether for a misdemeanor or felony, could result in incarceration. It means you will lose some time at work, school, or home. That time could be hard to recover, especially if the incarceration lasts a year or more. You could lose valuable connections with your friends or family, your job, or a school opportunity.

A conviction under PC 243(d) will also leave you with a damaging criminal record. Remember that society is usually not so kind to people with criminal backgrounds. Your family and friends could change the way they relate to you. Potential employers could make hiring decisions based on your criminal record. Sometimes, it becomes challenging to find a suitable neighborhood to rent.

A felony conviction will affect your gun rights. Remember that some people are legally prohibited from possessing or using firearms in California, including felons. If this law applies, you will no longer be able to use or purchase a gun for years or your entire life.

How To Fight Charges for Battery with Serious Bodily Injury

The good news is that you can fight charges under PC 243(d) to avoid a conviction and the severe consequences of a felony conviction. A good defense could compel the judge to dismiss or reduce your charges. But you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to develop a solid defense and present arguments that will compel the judge to dismiss or reduce your charges.

Here are some strategies your attorney can use to obtain a favorable outcome for your case:

You Acted in Self-Defense

Self-defense is a prevalent defense strategy for assault and battery charges. You can use reasonable force to defend yourself or another person if you or others are facing imminent danger. Note that the force you use in self-defense must be reasonable according to the threat you or the other person face.

But your attorney must demonstrate that you were facing imminent danger. They must also show that you only used force against the other person because you were afraid for your safety or the safety of another person. They can present video coverage, pictures, or an eyewitness account to demonstrate the danger you are facing.

If the prosecutor establishes that you used more force or violence than needed to keep you safe from the danger you faced, the judge will not accept your defense. But if the judge accepts your defense, they will dismiss your charges.

The Victim Did Not Suffer a Serious Injury

Your attorney can use this defense strategy to compel the judge to reduce your charges from aggravated to simple battery. Remember that a PC 243(d) violation becomes aggravated because another person sustains a serious bodily injury. If that does not happen, the judge can reduce your charge to a misdemeanor and sentence you to probation instead of incarceration.

But your attorney must find compelling evidence that the alleged victim did not suffer a serious injury due to your actions. For example, they can prove that the alleged victim was already injured before the offense or after the incident.

You can also use this defense strategy if the alleged victim only sustained a minor injury. Your attorney can call in a medical expert to confirm that the victim’s injury does not meet the threshold of a serious bodily injury. The judge will reduce your charges if the defense works.

Your Actions Were Accidental

If you did not intend to hurt the other person, your attorney can use this strategy to convince the jury that your actions were not willful but accidental. You could have accidentally knocked down a person or hit them with an object that caused them a serious injury.

Remember that this statute requires you to have acted criminally and willfully or deliberately to cause another person a serious injury. The prosecutor must demonstrate that your actions were willful. For example, if you pick up a rock and throw it at someone, your actions are intentional. But if you were throwing the rock somewhere else and ended up injuring another person, your actions were accidental.

Your attorney can call an accident reconstruction expert to demonstrate how things went down if needed. It will help the jury understand and decide whether your actions were deliberate or accidental.

The Police Violated Your Rights

The police must follow a particular guideline when arresting and questioning suspected offenders. For example, they must read and respect your Miranda rights after arrest. They must also not force you to confess. If you believe that the officers misconducted themselves during or after arrest, you can bring it up with your attorney to discuss how it could benefit your case.

The law requires the judge to dismiss all evidence gathered after a defendant’s rights have been violated by the police. If an officer tricks you or forces you to confess, your attorney can fight to have the confession thrown out of court. That could leave the prosecutor without sufficient evidence to prove all elements of the offense.

PC 243(d) and Related Charges

Some crimes under the law are very closely related to battery with serious bodily injury. The most popular ones are as follows:

Simple Battery

If you face battery charges and your case has no aggravating factors like an injury, the prosecutor will file simple battery charges under PC 242. All they need to prove is that you willfully and unlawfully touched another person rudely or offensively. A simple battery charge is a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail.

If you put up a solid defense against your charges under PC 243(d), the judge can reduce your charges to a simple battery.

Simple Assault

Assault and battery are closely related and sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are separate offenses with different legal meanings. An assault occurs when you attempt to touch another person rudely or unlawfully. The prosecutor will charge an attempt to cause another person serious bodily injury with assault.

If your actions did not injure the other person but could have injured them, the judge can reduce your charge to a simple assault. A simple assault charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail.

PC 203, Mayhem

You commit mayhem when you maliciously and unlawfully attack another person, causing them a disability or disfigurement. The offense is a felony, punishable by eight years in prison. It is a graver offense than battery, which causes serious bodily injury.

Find a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Assault with a serious bodily injury is a serious charge that could result in lengthy jail or prison time, a hefty court fine, and other life-changing consequences. It could leave you with a damaging criminal record that will affect various aspects of your life even after serving your sentence.

But we can help you fight your charges at Desert Defense Lawyers. We handle all kinds of assault and battery cases in Palm Desert. Thus, we understand the best defense strategies to use for the best possible outcome in your case. We will also protect your rights and fight alongside you until you are pleased with the outcome of your case. Call us at 888-293-0396 to discuss your legal situation, options, and our services.

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