Battery on a Peace or Police Officer Law in California

Secs 243 (b) and 243 (c)(2) of the California Penal Code prohibits the willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another person. When this kind of prohibited force is directed at police officer and firefighters, then higher penalties are imposable.

The crime stems from the offense of battery. There are two kinds of battery, namely simple or misdemeanor battery and aggravated battery. Simple battery is committed when unlawful use of force or violence on another resulting in little or no injury to the victim. For this crime, the penalty is up to six months in county jail and payment of fines up to $2,000. For aggravated battery, the offense results in a more significant injury upon the victim or the victim falls within “protected persons”, such as the following:

1)      Peace Officers;

2)     Firefighters;

3)     Public Prosecutors/Public Defenders;

4)     Parking or other Traffic Enforcement Personnel;

5)     Doctors and Nurses;

6)     School Employees;

7)     Jurors;

8)    Elders or Dependent Adults;

Depending on the injury sustained, aggravated battery can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor offense but with a higher prison penalty or a felony offense, with prison time in a state penitentiary.

The following are the elements of the crime of battery on a peace officer:

a)     The individual committed a battery;

b)     The battery was committed against a peace officer or a protected person;

c)      The protected person was performing their official and legal duties;

d)     The officer or protected person sustained an injury because of the battery;

There are some considerations to determine if the officer or protected person was in the performance of their duties. These include if the officer was in uniform, or if the officer was trying to restrain the person or another individual or if the officer was recognized as a marked vehicle performing governmental services.

The injuries are also important in the determination of the offense committed. While the law defines an injury requiring professional medical treatment, the nature, seriousness and extent of the injury is what matters in the case. The injury must be serious enough to impair the physical activity of the individual or interferes with the officer’s duties and responsibilities. Serious bodily injury is defined as a wound requiring extensive stitches, a concussion, broken bones or disfigurement in any shape or form.

This offense is called a wobbler offense, thus can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or felony offense. The determination of the degree of the offense is the severity of the injuries sustained by the peace officer, other relevant circumstances of the case and the accused’s criminal history. Thus in this crime, when there is no injury sustained, the case would be filed as a misdemeanor offense while injuries sustained by the police officer determines if the degree of the offense is a misdemeanor or a felony under Secs 243(c)(2) or 243(d)

The following are the penalties imposable for misdemeanor battery on a peace officer

a)     Probation up to three (3) years, called summary probation;

b)     One (1) year in county jail;

c)      Payment of fines up to $2,000 or up to $10,000 if injury is sustained by the officer;

d)     Attendance in a batterer’s rehabilitative program;

e)     Mandatory community service

The following are the penalties imposable for felony battery on a peace officer:

1)      Formal Probation;

2)     Between sixteen months to three years in state prison that is increased to between two to four years if serious bodily injury is sustained by the peace officer;

3)     Payment of fines up to $10,000;

4)     Recording a possible strike under California’s Three Strikes Law;

The crime of battery on a peace or police officer is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.