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Penal Code 243(c)(2) | Battery on a Police Officer

Penal Code 243(c)(2) | Battery on a Police Officer

Battery on a police officer is a serious criminal offense in California. Penal Code 243(c)(2) specifically makes it illegal to commit battery resulting in injury against a police officer who is engaged in the performance of their duties. This article will explain what constitutes battery on a police officer, potential defenses, penalties, and related information.

What is Battery on a Police Officer?

Under California law, battery is defined as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. Battery can be committed by direct or indirect touching that is harmful or offensive. Battery on a police officer occurs when the following elements are present:

  • The victim was a police officer
  • The officer was engaged in the lawful performance of their duties
  • The defendant willfully and unlawfully touched the officer in a harmful or offensive manner
  • The defendant knew or reasonably should have known the victim was a police officer performing their duties
  • The touching resulted in injury to the officer

The officer does not need to be in uniform for a battery charge to apply. As long as the officer identifies themselves as police and the defendant knows or should know that, the law can still apply. Any touching, even if slight or indirect, can qualify as battery if it is offensive. Injury includes any physical pain or damage, no matter how minor. It does not matter if the injury required medical treatment.

Examples

Some examples of battery on a police officer include:

  • Punching, kicking, or shoving an officer making an arrest
  • Pushing an officer to get away during a detention
  • Throwing an object at an officer, causing minor injury
  • Spitting on an officer while being detained

Even minor touching done willfully and offensively can constitute battery on a police officer if injury results. Things like flicking, pinching, or slapping an officer could qualify if the officer is injured.

Defenses

There are several legal defenses that can be raised in fighting Penal Code 243(c)(2) charges:

  • No willful act: The touching was accidental and not done willfully.
  • Self-defense: The defendant used reasonable force to defend themselves against excessive force by police.
  • No knowledge: The defendant did not know the victim was a police officer.
  • No injury: The alleged touching did not result in any injury.
  • Officer not performing duties: The officer was not engaged in lawful duties when the incident occurred.

While self-defense can legally justify use of force against police, the force must be reasonable and proportional. Excessive force in response is still a crime.

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Penalties

Battery on a police officer under Penal Code 243(c)(2) is a wobbler offense. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, at the prosecutor’s discretion. Potential penalties include:

  • Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in county jail, a fine up to $10,000, or both.
  • Felony: 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both. Felony convictions may also count as a strike under California’s three strikes law.

Prosecutors typically pursue felony charges when the officer’s injury is more severe. Felony charges are more likely to result in jail or prison time. Immigration consequences may also apply for non-citizens charged with felony battery on an officer.

Related Offenses

Related charges that may apply in cases of battery on a police officer include:

  • Resisting arrest (Penal Code 148): Willfully resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer in their lawful duties.
  • Assault on an officer (Penal Code 245): Attempting to commit violent injury on an officer.
  • Battery against emergency personnel (Penal Code 243.6): Battery on firefighters, EMTs, doctors/nurses, lifeguards, etc.

Prosecutors often file multiple related charges in battery cases involving police officers. It is important to fight all charges aggressively to avoid “piling on” of penalties.

Hiring an Attorney

Being charged with battery on a police officer is an extremely serious matter. These cases are aggressively prosecuted, and you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. A strong legal defense can get charges reduced or dismissed. An attorney can also advocate for reduced penalties if you are convicted. Don’t wait to get help from a lawyer if faced with Penal Code 243(c)(2) charges.

 

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