It is never a good idea to hit a police officer. In San Diego, battery on a peace officer is a serious crime that carries extremely harsh consequences. Are you are facing criminal charges for hitting an officer of the law? You need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Contact the San Diego criminal lawyer Vikas Bajaj today to find out how we can help you minimize the consequences of your arrest.
What is Battery?
You’ve likely heard of the crime of battery, but do you know what it is? In California, battery is defined in Penal Code Section 242 to mean “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” In other words, battery is the crime of intentionally touching another person in a way that is harmful or offensive.
Battery on a Police Officer
Battery, without any aggravating factors, is typically a misdemeanor offense. The crime becomes much more serious, however, when you know, or should have known, that the victim of your attack is a police officer engaged in his or her official duties.
- You willfully and unlawfully use force against another person;
- That other person is a law enforcement officer engaged in his or her official duties;
- You knew or should have known that the victim was a police officer; and
- The victim actually suffered harm.
Willfully and Unlawfully Using Force
The crime of battery occurs when you willfully and unlawfully use force against another person. This essentially means that you engage in harmful or offensive contact without the victim’s consent. Harmful contact will generally be considered anything that causes bodily injury. Offensive contact, on the other hand, is considered to be contact that is done in a rude or angry way and offends a victim’s sense of dignity.
Law Enforcement Officer
Who is considered a “police officer” for the purposes of California’s battery law? Police in California can include:
- Local police
- State police
- California highway patrol officers
- Officers within a sheriff’s department
- Transit police
- Harbor or port officers, and/or
- Private security guards.
Put another way, if a person is employed by a government agency to perform peace officer duties, they will likely be considered a “police officer” for the purposes of the law.
In order to be convicted of battery on a police officer, you (1) must have known the victim was a police officer or (2) should have known that the victim was an officer of the law. Whether you not you had this required knowledge is a question of fact and will depend on a thorough evaluation of all relevant factors in your case. Indicators that should lead you to believe a person is an officer include:
- The victim was wearing a police officer’s uniform
- The victim displayed a police officer’s badge
- The victim identified themself as an officer of the law, or
- The victim was accompanied by other police officers.
Other Victims Covered By Penal Code 243
California’s battery on a police officer law also extends protections to other public servants and officials. The consequences of a battery can become more severe if the victim is a:
- Custodial officer
- Emergency medical technician (EMT)
- Security officer
- Custody assistant
- Process server
- Traffic officer
- Code enforcement officer
- Animal control officer
- Search and rescue member, or
- Medical professional administering emergency medical care.
If any of these individuals are the victim of a battery while identifiable and engaged in the performance of their duties, the penalties will be aggravated.
Penalties for Battery on a Police Officer
The penalty for battery on a police officer will depend on the extent of harm suffered by the victim.
Simple Battery on a Police Officer
Simple battery on a police officer, not resulting in serious bodily harm, will generally be a misdemeanor. If convicted, you will face a maximum of one year in jail and be required to pay up to $2,500 in fines.
Battery on a Police Officer Causing Serious Harm
The consequences of battery on a police officer become more severe when the victim suffers a serious bodily injury and/or requires hospitalization. The crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the extent of the harm
When charged as a felony, battery on a police officer is punishable by:
- 16 months, two years, or three years in prison, and/or
- $10,000 in criminal fines.
The penalties for battery on a police officer will also be more serious if you (1) displayed or used a firearm or dangerous weapon in the attack or (2) committed the crime in service of a criminal street gang.
Defending Battery on a Police Officer Charges
When you are charged with a crime in San Diego you have the right to defend yourself. The arguments you present on your behalf should help to explain and/or justify your actions. Defenses to the crime of battery on a police officer can include:
- You did not know the victim was a police officer
- You were acting in self defense
- You did not touch the officer in a harmful or offensive way, or
- You have been falsely accused.
If you were acting in self defense, or in the defense of another person, it is important to contact an experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer immediately. While it is never a good idea to hit a police officer, your actions may have been justified under the law. We can help you defeat your criminal charges by proving that you acted in lawful self defense.
Speak with Attorney Vikas Bajaj Today For a Free Consultation
Have you been arrested for hitting a police officer in San Diego? Contact the Law Offices of Vikas Bajaj, APC for immediate assistance with your defense. Our San Diego criminal defense attorneys have over 19 years of experience handling complex criminal matters. We know that your future is on the line and will fight to protect you and your family from the consequences of a conviction. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.