The crime of battery is grave, especially when committed against a peace officer while the officer is on duty. Peace officers are individuals who perform particular tasks for members of the public. They include prosecutors, police officers, judges, and other court officials. The consequences of a conviction for battering a peace officer are serious. They could consist of incarceration, the payment of hefty court fines, and other life-changing consequences that come with a criminal conviction.

But you can fight your charges if you face charges for battering a peace officer in Monterey. We can help you defend and protect your rights at Monterey Criminal Attorney. With our skills and experience handling assault and battery cases, we can compel the court to dismiss or reduce your charges.

The Legal Meaning of Battering a Peace Officer

The law against battering a peace officer is under Penal Code 243(c)(2). This statute defines the crime as willfully, criminally, and offensively touching a peace officer when the officer is performing their official duty. This crime can take several forms, including the following:

  • Kicking or slapping a police officer when resisting an arrest.
  • Pushing or throwing something at the prosecutor during a court proceeding.
  • Throwing a stone and injuring a sheriff during a public protest.

Battery is, in and of itself, a very severe offense. That makes battery on a peace officer a more severe offense, punishable by lengthy prison time and a high court fine. The prosecutor can charge you with a misdemeanor or felony if you are suspected of battering a peace officer. Their decision will depend on your criminal history and the details of your case. A felony conviction can result in prison time for three years.

But you can defend against your charges to ensure a fair trial. During that trial, the prosecutor will bear the burden of proof that you battered a peace officer in violation of PC 243(c)(2). To do that, they should demonstrate all elements of the offense, as under the law, beyond reasonable doubt. In that case, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  • You committed the crime of battery.
  • The victim of your crime was a peace officer.
  • The officer was working at the time.
  • You were aware or should have possibly known that the victim was a peace officer and that they were on duty at the time.

Let us discuss these elements further to comprehend this statute better:

The Crime of Battery

Battery on a peace officer is a crime of battery. It means that the prosecutor must first demonstrate that you committed battery before showing the status or identity of the victim of your crime.

Battery occurs when you willfully and criminally use violence or force on another person. You are still guilty, even if your actions do not result in pain or actual bodily harm. For example, when you angrily throw a rock or object at a person you are arguing with, you are guilty of battery even if the rock or object does not cause them harm. What matters is that your actions are criminal, willful, rude, or offensive.

In your case, the prosecutor must demonstrate all battery elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If they do not succeed, the judge will dismiss your charges. These elements, or facts, of the case are as follows:

  • You touched another person.
  • Your actions were willful or intentional.
  • Your touch was offensive or harmful.

The touch refers to the physical contact you establish with the alleged victim. It could be slight or severe, direct or indirect. An indirect touch could occur through the victim’s clothing and what they carry or hold. It could also happen through anything connected to them, including a chair they are sitting on. Even a slight touch can result in battery charges, whether criminal, willful, rude, or offensive.

The touch must be willful. It means that your actions are intentional, purposeful, and not accidental. However, it does not mean you acted that way to hurt the victim or another person, take advantage of the victim, or break the law.

Additionally, your actions must have been rude or offensive. A rude or offensive touch is an angry or violent touch.

Once the prosecutor establishes that you committed battery, they will demonstrate other elements of this offense.

A Peace Officer

The difference between the crime of battery under PC 242 and this statute (PC 243(c)(2)) is the statute of the alleged victim. While the crime of battery is a highly punishable offense when committed on an ordinary Californian, it becomes graver when committed on a protected officer.

Peace officers offer special services to members of the public, including enforcing the law. The public is encouraged to respect peace officers to ensure they perform their duties safely and with minimal interference. Examples of peace officers are the following individuals:

  • Law enforcement officers.
  • The police.
  • Sheriffs.
  • Prosecutors.
  • Attorney General.

Note: The peace officer must work during the offense for the court to find you guilty. If you commit battery on a police officer while the officer is off duty, you will not face charges under this statute but could face battery charges under PC 242.

The Knowledge

The statute also requires you to be aware or reasonably know that the officer was on duty when you committed the offense against them. Identifying an officer on duty in California is easy since most protected officers wear a distinct uniform. For example, a police officer will be in uniform when discharging their duty to the public.

Also, peace officers have been trained to identify themselves when dealing directly with members of the public. They also work in designated places, like the courts for prosecutors and malls for the police and other law enforcement officers. If an officer stops and asks you for an ID, they will identify themselves and produce a badge to verify it.

If you commit battery against a protected officer after learning who the officer is and what their scope of work is, you will face prosecution under this statute.

Remember that even a slight touch against a protected officer counts as a crime of battery if you are angry or rude. Even contacting the officer through their clothing or anything they hold is enough to support your charges. You can also commit battery against a protected officer indirectly by causing another person or an object to harm an on-duty peace officer.

The Penalties for Battering a Peace Officer

PC 243(c)(2) is a wobbler offense. It means that the prosecutor can file misdemeanor or felony charges against you for battering a peace officer. The prosecutor’s decision is based on the details of your case and criminal history.

You will likely face a misdemeanor charge if the officer did not sustain severe physical harm. In that case, you could face the following penalties upon conviction:

  • A maximum of one year in jail.
  • A maximum of $10,000 in court fines.

The prosecutor will likely file felony charges if you cause actual harm to the peace officer. In that case, you will face the following penalties upon conviction:

  • A three-year prison sentence.
  • A maximum of $10,000 in court fines.

Sometimes, the judge can grant probation instead of jail or prison time. Probation allows you to serve part of your sentence or the entire sentence out of incarceration. You will be able to carry on with your life, be with your family, and continue working or running your business. However, the judge will give you strict probation conditions to adhere to throughout the probation period. For example, you could be required to do the following:

  • To engage in community service.
  • To submit period reports to the court or probation department on your performance on probation.
  • Do not commit any crime or face any criminal arrest during probation.
  • To pay restitution to your victim to enable them to seek medical treatment.
  • To pay all court fines.
  • To seek counseling, drug or alcohol treatment, or attend anger management classes for a particular period.

If you deserve probation, the judge will sentence you to misdemeanor probation if you face misdemeanor charges or felony probation for felony charges. They will determine how long you will be on probation. The judge will also explain the court’s requirements and what will likely happen if you violate probation.

Enhanced Sentence

The judge can enhance your sentence if your case has aggravating factors, like a severe or significant bodily injury or the use of a deadly weapon to commit the crime. For example, if a peace officer sustains a severe injury due to your actions, your sentence will be more severe than what the law provides for battery on a peace officer. The judge has absolute discretion to determine your enhanced sentence, depending on how grave your actions are.

Other Consequences of a Conviction for Battering a Peace Officer

A conviction for battering a peace officer will leave you with a damaging criminal record that will affect various aspects of your life. If the conviction results in incarceration, you will be away for a particular period, which could delay or disrupt your life. For example, you could lose your job and essential relationships when you spend significant time behind bars. Some people lose their jobs permanently. Others lose their business and close family relations. You will be forced to start all over again after serving your sentence.

Your criminal history, usually publicly available, remains even after serving your sentence. Anyone conducting a background check will learn about your crime and conviction. Some people can change their perception of you after learning about your damaging criminal past. For example, a potential employer can deny you a job opportunity you qualify for because of your criminal past. Landlords also use criminal backgrounds to determine a potential tenant’s suitability for renting or leasing in a particular neighborhood.

A felony conviction will also impact your gun rights. Adults in California have gun rights that allow them to obtain licenses to purchase, use, or possess firearms. You lose those rights under various circumstances, including after a felony conviction. If the prosecutor files felony charges against you for battering a peace officer and the court passes a guilty verdict, you automatically lose your gun rights. You can no longer use, possess, or purchase a firearm. If you have a gun, you must sell it immediately or surrender it to the police.

Expunging Your Criminal Record

You can overcome the consequences of having a criminal background by petitioning the court to expunge your conviction from your record. That way, anyone who conducts a background check on you will not learn about your criminal past and cannot use it against you.

However, you must wait until you serve your sentence or complete probation to apply to the court where your conviction and sentencing occurred. The judge will receive your petition and review your performance to decide whether or not to grant your request. You can seek the help of a skilled criminal attorney to file a successful petition for expungement. If the judge grants your request, you will no longer have to worry about that conviction and the harm it could cause your future.

Expungements eliminate all the adverse effects and disabilities of a criminal conviction. It entails a complete removal of the conviction from your criminal background. Anyone conducting a background check on you will only learn about the conviction if it is from you. However, you must disclose your criminal background when applying for public office. If you serve your sentence well and do not violate your probation, you can quickly apply for expungement after completing your sentence.

How To Fight Your Charges for Battering a Peace Officer

The benefit of a jury trial is that it is fair since it allows you to mount a defense against your charges. You can do so with evidence and expert testimonies. A skilled criminal attorney can also help you establish weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and use them to your benefit. Additionally, criminal attorneys can use various legal defense strategies to fight criminal charges to compel the judge to dismiss or reduce their clients’ charges. Here are some of the techniques your attorney can use in your case and how they can benefit your situation:

You Did Not Commit Battery

Remember that battery on a peace officer is a battery offense. It means that the prosecutor must first demonstrate that you committed battery before proving that the victim of your crime was a peace officer. Your attorney can fight the battery charge. If they convince the court that you did not commit battery, you cannot face charges for battering a peace officer. The judge will dismiss your charges. Fortunately, your attorney can use several strategies to fight the underlying battery charge.

For example, they can claim that your actions were not willful but accidental. Remember that you must have acted willfully, purposefully, or deliberately to be guilty of battery. But if the prosecutor cannot demonstrate that or your attorney convinces the judge that your actions were accidental, the judge will dismiss your charges.

Your attorney can also cite that you only acted in self-defense or the defense of another person. You can use reasonable force or violence against another person if you or another person are in danger. But you must convince the court that you were in imminent danger and that the force or violence you used against the other person was reasonable enough for the threat you faced. If that is the case, the judge will dismiss your charges.

The Victim Was Not a Peace Officer

The prosecutor will file charges against you under this law only if there is evidence that the alleged victim was a peace officer. It means the victim was a police officer or law enforcement officer. You are not guilty under PC 243(c)(2) if they are not. It could be that the person was impersonating a police officer or that the victim was in the company of a peace officer.

However, note that the prosecutor will still file battery charges even if the victim is not a peace officer. If you commit battery against another person, you will face charges under a different statute.

The Officer was Not On Duty

PC 243(c)(2) requires you to have committed a battery crime against an on-duty peace officer. If that is not the case, your charges under this statute will not apply. But the prosecutor can still file charges under PC 242 if evidence shows that you battered an off-duty peace officer. In this case, an off-duty peace officer will be treated like a civilian.

You Did Not Know The Victim Was a Peace Officer

The judge can also reduce your charges if your criminal attorney can demonstrate your lack of knowledge that the alleged victim was not a peace officer. It could be a case of a police officer in civilian clothes or a prosecutor who did not identify themselves at the beginning of your involvement.

You Are Falsely Accused

False accusations are very common in battery and assault cases. Someone else, or an alleged victim, can file false accusations against you for various reasons, for example, if they are jealous of you and want to gain an advantage over you or to get even with you for what you did or failed to do. An intelligent criminal attorney will look for evidence to ensure you are not convicted of a crime you did not commit.

Charges Related to Battering a Peace Officer

Some offenses under the law are closely related to the battery of a peace officer. These are some of the common crimes:

Battery on Protected Persons

The law against battering a protected person is under PC 243(c)(1). A protected person is anyone the law protects because of the special duty they perform to the public. Police officers, firefighters, prosecutors, traffic officers, custodial officers, animal control officers, and EMTs are examples of protected persons. If you willfully, criminally, and offensively touch any protected officer while they are on duty, you will face prosecution under this statute.

The prosecutor can file charges under this law, or PC 243(c)(2), based on the details of your case. You will likely face an enhanced sentence if you commit the crime using a deadly weapon or cause great bodily harm to the alleged victim.

Resisting Executive Officers

According to Penal Code 69, it is a criminal act to use threats or violence to prevent an officer from carrying out their duty to the public. You cannot cause resistance or disruption that prevents an executive from working.

This statute slightly differs from battery on a peace officer as it only protects executive officers and not all the other peace officers. Executive officers are government officials who can use their discretion to carry out their duties. They include judges, police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, sheriffs, and elected officials.

Resisting Arrest

Law enforcement officers rely on your cooperation to successfully perform their duty to the public. If an officer has probable cause to place you under arrest, you must submit to the officer. Penal Code 148 provides prosecution and sentencing guidelines for anyone guilty of resisting an arrest. The prosecutor can file charges against you under this law if you willfully obstruct, delay, or fight an arrest or impede an officer from their duty.

Find a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If you face charges for battering a peace officer in Monterey, you could be facing the most challenging time of your life. An arrest and criminal persecution are not easy to deal with. But a skilled criminal attorney can make it a little bearable for you. We can streamline your complex legal process, explain your options and what to expect, and protect your rights at Monterey Criminal Attorney. We can also develop a solid defense against your charges to compel the court to reduce or dismiss your charges. We can use our skills, experience, and the best legal defense strategies to obtain a fair outcome for your case. Call us at 831-574-1791 for more information about your charges and our services.