What is a Battery With Serious Bodily Injury
As mentioned in other articles, California Penal Code §243 sets forth the crime of battery, §243(b) establishes the enhanced version of the battery offense, as a battery on a peace officer, §243(c) sets forth enhanced penalties if the battery on the peace officer results in physical injury, and §243(d) sets forth enhanced penalties if the battery against someone who is not a peace officer performing their official duties results in serious bodily injury. If you commit a battery against someone, and they suffer serious bodily injury, the penalties will be much more severe.
In order to maintain a conviction for battery with serious bodily injury, the Prosecution must prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Those elements are:
- You physically contacted another person, the victim
- The conduct that led to the physical contact was done willfully,
- The physical contact, which occurred as the result of willful conduct, was harmful or offensive; and
- The harmful or offensive physical contact with the victim resulted in the victim suffering a serious bodily injury.
If the Prosecution cannot prove every one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you cannot be convicted of battery with serious bodily injury. This is important to note, because with competent counsel on your side, your attorney will challenge the Prosecutor on each, and every, element. The attorneys at Orange County Criminal Attorney know the elements, know the law, and have a great deal of experience representing clients on a wide variety of criminal cases; including cases involving a charge under §243(d) of battery with serious bodily injury. With an OCCA attorney on your team, your chance of receiving a beneficial outcome to your case is increased. Since the elements of this charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a detailed analysis of the crime is set forth
What Are the Elements of the Underlying Crime, Battery?
As stated above, a §243(d) violation is a simple battery, as defined in §243 of the California Penal Code, paired with a resulting serious bodily injury to the victim.
The Touching of Another Person
The first element the Prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the Defendant caused physical contact with the victim. Any form of physical contact will be a sufficient basis for a showing of this element. In simple battery, the touching does not have to result in any harm. So long as the physical contact is harmful or offensive, the Prosecution has sufficiently shown this element. It should be known that the physical contact can be accomplished through indirect means; the law presumes items you physically move become an extension of your person until they stop moving, and the law also presumes that items attached to another person is also an extension of their body. Thus, if you throw something and it hits the victim, the physical contact element is satisfied. Similarly, if you make physical contact with something the victim is holding or carrying, it is an extension of them, and the physical touching element is satisfied.
The next element the Prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the conduct, which led to the physical contact, was willful. This only means that you intended the act, not the outcome. This means it is unnecessary to show that the physical contact was intended to hurt another person or gain some kind of benefit.
Battery is a general intent crime, as opposed to a specific intent crime. This means that you do not need to specifically intend to cause the victim harm, you only need to intend to do the act, which resulted in the physical contact. Specifically, the Prosecution must show that you intentionally performed an act that would naturally, and probably, result in the physical contact with the victim.
In a Harmful or Offensive Manner
The final element the Prosecution must prove to maintain a charge of simple battery is that the physical contact was harmful or offensive. If the contact was not harmful or offensive, the Prosecution will not be able to obtain a conviction against you. For a simple battery, it not necessary to show harm, however if the touching left a mark, the Prosecution will have a very easy time proving to the jury that the physical contact was harmful.
What is Serious Bodily Injury?
The key difference between a simple battery charge under §243, and a battery with serious bodily injury under §243(d), is obviously that the result of the battery is a serious bodily injury to the victim. The Courts have clarified that a serious bodily injury is a serious impairment of the physical condition of the victim. Examples of serious bodily injury include bone fractures, concussions, getting knocked out, failure of an organ, and serious disfigurement.
The list above is not complete by any means, and in California, the question of whether the harm constitutes a serious bodily injury is always a question for the jury to decide. Since this enhancement always turns on a jury determination, it is essential that you have a competent attorney representing you. The attorneys at Orange County Criminal Attorney are trained extensively in trial tactics, and presenting arguments in a way that is persuasive to the jury. Having an OCCA attorney representing you could be the difference between an enhanced charge under §243(d) battery with serious bodily injury, and a simple battery charge.
What Are the Penalties if I Am Convicted of Battery With Serious Bodily Injury?
The offense of battery with serious bodily injury is an enhanced version of a simple battery, which is a misdemeanor. However, if the Prosecution is able to convince the jury that the harm to the victim constituted serious bodily injury, the penalty will be enhanced significantly.
As mentioned above, if the Prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim suffered serious bodily injury, you will face enhanced penalties. Also mentioned above, is the fact that whether or not the battery resulted in serious bodily injury is always a question of fact for the jury to decide. If the jury makes a determination that your battery caused the victim serious bodily injury, the simple battery penalties (up to one year in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000_ will be increased by an additional period ranging from three (3) to six (6) years of incarceration depending on the nature and the extent of the injury.
What Are the Legal Defenses My OCCA Attorney Can Raise if I am Charged With Battery With Serious Bodily Injury?
As stated above, the offense of a simple battery is a misdemeanor in California, but if there is a finding that the victim suffered serious bodily injury, the crime is reported on your criminal background as battery with serious bodily injury. This information is accessible by anybody who conducts a background check on you. Employers are the most common group of people who conduct background checks. Generally speaking, employers conduct background checks on people they are considering hiring to determine if the person is a good fit for the company. It is an unfortunate reality that employers will be hesitant to hire someone with a criminal background. This is made even worse when the crime is a violent crime. It becomes even more severe when the employer sees that not only was it a violent crime, but it resulted in serious bodily injury. If you are charged with battery with serious bodily injury, contact an attorney at Orange County Criminal Attorney immediately. Our attorneys will aggressively advocate for an acquittal, a finding that serious bodily injury did not occur, or minimal penalties. As mentioned above, if the Prosecution cannot prove ever element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, you will not be convicted of the crime. Our OCCA attorneys have years of experience stopping Prosecutors from proving their case, and they will fight for your freedom. There are a number of defenses your OCCA can raise to negate the required elements for a conviction under §423(d) including:
- Your conduct was for the purpose of protecting yourself from imminent harm, or for the purpose of protecting someone else from imminent harm.
It is unfortunate, but sometimes situations arise where you are forced to protect yourself from harm, or you are forced to protect someone else from harm. This is known the self-defense theory. This defense can be what is known as a complete defense that is if shown, you are not guilty of a crime. Self-defense can also be a partial defense, which could be used to reduce the penalties you are given – this is known as mitigating factors. .
- Your conduct was not willful.
There are situations where the Defendant’s conduct was completely by accident, or the victim misunderstood the conduct. Utilizing this defense, it is critical that your attorney, as well as the Prosecutor is completely informed of all the facts surrounding the alleged crime. If you are facing a charge of battery with serious bodily injury, contact an attorney at Orange County Criminal Attorney immediately so your attorney can begin building a defense to your case.
- Wrongfully accused.
In California, it is far too easy for a victim to falsely accuse you of having committed a crime. For example, an ex-girlfriend could have suffered a serious bodily injury from her current boyfriend, and because she doesn’t want to get him in trouble, she blames you instead. There are a number of reasons why a person would accuse the wrong person of the crime, sometimes out of jealousy, revenge, or anger. If you have been wrongfully accused, contact your OCCA attorney immediately, the attorneys at OCCA have ample experience representing clients who were wrongfully accused and will fight to obtain your freedom.