Being accused of battery by a police officer is a stressful and surprising experience. However, California law clearly defines this as a willful and unlawful act. A violent crimes defense lawyer in California can help you defend yourself and protect your rights.
Battery or assault on a police officer comes with steep fines and potential jail time. Fortunately, there are many potential defenses against these battery accusations, and criminal defense attorneys can help you argue your case to avoid fines and jail time.
What is Battery on a Police Officer in California?
In every state, a battery of a police officer is a serious offense. Battery often includes physical harm, but it may also include any form of offensive contact, like spitting.
Other peace officers, like any probation officer, security guard, and any other public officer, are also covered by battery laws.
Assault vs. battery can be best defined as the difference between a threat and the action itself. Battery covers all offensive touching, including touches that aren’t inherently violent or harmful.
Although these crimes may not cause injury or harm, they’re considered violent crimes.
Elements of the Crime – Battery on a Police Officer
In order for the prosecution to charge someone with battery on a law enforcement officer, they must prove certain things.
- The individual willfully and illegally touched the police officer.
- The officer was performing their job duties when the incident took place. That means that an off-duty officer is not protected in the same way as an on-duty federal law enforcement officer.
- The accused should have been reasonably expected to know that the person was an on-duty officer.
There are many potential complications here, such as plainclothes officers, that can be used for legal defenses.
Accidental touching, for example, can be an excuse for some battery instances. A disabled person may not have total control over their movements, leading to accidental brushes or arm touches. Intellectual disabilities may also affect a person’s movements.
Penalties for Battery on Police Office in California
A battery on a police officer is considered more serious than a simple battery incident. It potentially carries serious penalties, depending on the specifics of the incident.
If there was no bodily injury to the officer, it is considered a misdemeanor. The penalties will be up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
However, if there was any kind of bodily injury, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. The final decision will come from any previous conviction and the level of harm. Broken bones and disfigurement, for example, are likely to result in harsher penalties.
If it is prosecuted as a felony, then it is punishable with up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Defenses to Aggravated Battery on a Police Officer
Although aggravated battery on a police officer is a serious offense, there are some options that will decrease the likelihood of conviction.
All of the elements of a battery case must be present in order for someone to be convicted of aggravated battery.
The burden is on the prosecution to show that the defendant willfully touched the police officer, that the officer was on the job when it took place, and that the defendant should have reasonably known the victim was a police officer.
One of the most common defenses is that the victim was not acting within their role as a police officer.
No Intent to Cause Bodily Harm
One of the hallmarks of any battery incident is the intent to cause bodily harm. The intent is essential in many criminal cases, and this is another one.
Accidental touching, for example, does not count as criminal activity. There are many reasons a person might accidentally touch an officer. A disabled person, for example, might not have full control over their limbs at all times and may accidentally reach out at inopportune times.
There are many situations where someone may make unintentional contact with another person, such as in a crowded area, when losing their balance, or even during an arrest.
Brushing against an officer as they put handcuffs on you, for example, is not a willful touch, nor does it show intent to cause harm. In situations involving actual violence, this approach may not work.
However, a qualified attorney can help you take stock of the different
Not Aware of Officer’s Status
If the defendant is not aware of an officer’s status, the prosecution may not be able to get a conviction for the battery of an officer.
Someone who is not a uniformed police officer should identify themself before acting according to their duties. If the officer failed to identify themself, then the defendant could not have reasonably known.
If the victim was not an active-duty officer, then the situation is a lot less likely to be classified as a felony or treated with the harshest sentencing.
Even when an office is not technically on the clock, they may feel compelled to act in their role as a law enforcement officer. For example, they may try to help a fellow officer. That could be considered acting within their official duties.
However, the prosecution must prove that the defendant knew that the victim was a police officer at the time of the attack, such as by stating their job title, wearing a uniform, or presenting a badge.
Let LibertyBell Law Group Defend Your Battery on a Police Officer Case!
A violent crimes defense lawyer in California can defend you in any battery case, including situations where you’re accused of battering a police officer.
We are passionate about protecting our client’s rights and preventing them from serving harsh sentences.
Schedule your free consultation today to learn how our team will help you avoid jail time and other negative impacts. Contact us at 877-545-3559 at LibertyBell Law Group today!
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