What is a Battery?
A battery is any willful and unlawful touching of another person that is harmful and offensive. Any contact with another person, including through clothing, is enough. The touching does not have to cause pain or injury of any kind.
The facts of the case will determine which charges, and therefore which penalties, apply to any given case.
Misdemeanor punishments include a maximum fine of $2,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail. The punishment is greater for battery against specified persons, such as a police officer or spouse. A misdemeanor conviction often results in probation ranging from 3 to 5 years.
Felony punishments include a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or 2,3, or 4 years in state prison, or up to one year in county jail. California law imposes longer prison terms when a firearm was used in the offense.
In California, a battery conviction results in loss of the right to own, possess, purchase, or receive firearms. The court can order a person with an outstanding warrant for battery to surrender his or her guns.
Gun rights return 10 years after a misdemeanor conviction. A felony conviction can result in permanent loss of the right to own a gun.
A person may use force if it is necessary to protect themselves or others from imminent bodily harm. However, the person may only use the minimum amount of force that is reasonably necessary to defend themselves.
When two persons mutually agree to fight one another, they can raise this as a defense to battery charges. If, however, one person wants to stop fighting, their consent is withdrawn and further contact is unlawful.
The prosecutor must prove that the defendant was present and committed the crime with which they are charged. The defendant does not need to prove they were elsewhere when the crime was committed.
A parent is not guilty of injury to a child if a reasonable person would find the punishment was necessary under the circumstances and the physical force used was reasonable. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used was not justifiable.
Involuntary movements such as sneezes, spasms, or seizures, are a defense to battery, which requires a "volitional," or deliberate movement. The prosecution bears the burden of proving that the defendant's movement was deliberate.
A battery can be charged as a felony if it was committed with a deadly weapon other than a firearm or with force likely to produce great bodily injury.
Domestic violence is battery upon a current or former partner, including husband, wife, partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, or cohabitant.