Introduction

Battery on a Peace Officer (California Penal Code section 243(b)&(c)), also known as Battery on a Police Officer, is exactly what it sounds like: you willfully and illegally (i.e., without legal justification, such as self-defense) battered an officer while he/she/they were in the middle of performing their official duties. “Willful” is defined in California Penal Code section 7).

This Penal Code section also applies to additional protected individuals as discussed in more detail below.

Depending on the specific battery charge and injury (if any), you can be prosecuted for a misdemeanor or a felony, with maximum incarceration terms ranging from one year in the county jail up to three years in a state penitentiary. Accordingly, this is known as a “Wobbler” (California Penal Code section 17(b)).

For example, if the officer-victim suffered no injury, then you will definitely be charged with only a misdemeanor. But an injury could (though not automatically) result in you being charged with a felony.

By contrast, however, if you are accused of battering a “custodial officer” (see below), then you will absolutely be charged with a felony (presumably because jail/prison guards are particularly susceptible to being attacked by inmates).

California Statutes – Assault and Battery Crimes -- Battery on a Peace Officer

Regardless of the type of conviction or the sentence, even a misdemeanor battery conviction will result in you losing your Second-Amendment firearms rights for at least 10 years.

California Penal Code section 243(b)&(c)(1) (Battery on a Peace Officer):

This offense is always charged in conjunction with Simple Battery (California Penal Code section 242), which entails the unlawful, harmful, or offensive contact – direct or indirect – with the accuser.

Battery on a Peace Officer elevates this offense to a more serious crime because, of course, the victim is typically a police officer – a protected individual against whom such a crime merits enhanced punishments.

Battery on a Peace Officer can be divided into two separate sub-offenses. The first one involves what is essentially “Simple Battery Against a Police Officer” – i.e., a harmful or offensive touching of a cop (or similar law-enforcement authority) but without injury. As a result, this particular “sub-offense” is always prosecuted as a misdemeanor. California Penal Code section 242(b).

But if you do significantly injure the police officer, then, as indicated above, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Penal Code section 242(c)(1).

California Penal Code section 243.1 (Battery Against a Custodial Officer):

This is obviously a related offense, and it entails the assault on a jail or prison guard in a California jail facility or penal institution. The definition for this occupation is set forth in California Penal Code section 831.

Similarly, what constitutes a “detention facility” is defined in Pen. Code § 6031.4.

Unlike Battery on a Peace Officer, however, this is always charged as a felony even if no harm comes to the accuser. This makes sense as the state judicial system wants to do whatever it can to protect people who work in these positions since the danger to them is so constant and pervasive.

But this statute doesn’t automatically cover jail or prison guards – the defendant must have known, or must reasonably have known, that the accuser was working in his/her/their official capacity as such at the time of the alleged attack.

Interestingly, however, unlike other battery offenses against certain protected classes of individuals, to be convicted of this offense, the defendant need not have intended to interfere or retaliate against the accuser for performing, or trying to perform, their duties.

See: Battery Causing Injury to Specified Victim Not a Peace Officer (Penal Code section 243(b)-(c)(1));

Battery Against Transportation Personnel or Passenger (California Penal Code section 243.3);

Battery Against School Employee (California Penal Code section 243.6);

Battery Against a Juror (California Penal Code section 243.7); and

Assault on a Public Official (California Penal Code section 217.1(a)).

California Penal Code section 243.10(a) (Simple Battery on Military Personnel):

And this, too, is obviously a related crime, but military personnel clearly don’t deserve as much protection as jail/prison guards – at least in the eyes of the Judicial Council of California or California legislature. To wit, this crime is always charged as a misdemeanor.

Again, the attack must have been motivated by the accuser’s military service. And, again, the attack need not be successful for the defendant to be convicted of this crime – all that’s required is that the prosecutor prove that the contact was harmful or offensive.

Keep in mind that even if you battered that protected individual for reasons in addition to their military service – even if the military service was not the main reason you did so – then so long as their service was a “substantial factor” motivating your attack, you can still be convicted of this crime.

See Penal Code section 243.10(b).

California Penal Code section 148(a)(1) (Resisting Arrest):

This crime is self-explanatory and arguably the most commonly well-known offense in the California Penal Code. As this does not account for any injury to the arresting officer (or any officer performing his/her/their official duties), this is always a misdemeanor charge.

However, if you actually remove the officer’s non-firearm weapon (such as a nightstick or Taser) during the incident, you can (thought won’t necessarily) be charged with a felony. Penal Code section 148(b). But if you remove his/her/their gun, you will definitely be charged with a felony. Pen. Code section 148(c).

Assault and Battery Crimes -- Battery on a Peace Officer -- Convictions

California Penal Code section 243(b)&(c)(1) (Battery on a Peace Officer):

Who is considered to be a “peace officer” is set forth in California Penal Code section 830.

A conviction for battery against a cop without injury – again, this is a misdemeanor – can result in a worst-case-scenario sentence of three hundred and sixty-five days in the county jail. Penal Code section 243(b).

But a felony conviction, which means the accuser was not only injured but significantly harmed, can entail a prison term of sixteen, twenty-four, or thirty-six months. Penal Code section 243(c)(1). See also California Penal Code section 1170(h)(1).

California Penal Code section 243.1 (Battery Against a Custodial Officer):

A felony conviction for battering a jail/prison guard comes with a heavy price – either 16, 24, or 36 months in a state penitentiary (representing the low, mid, and high terms, respectively), pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(h)(1) (Felony Prison Term Not Specified).

California Penal Code section 243.10 (Simple Battery on Military Personnel):

As with the majority of misdemeanor convictions, a conviction hereunder will land you in the county jail for a maximum of a dozen months.

California Penal Code section 148 (Resisting Arrest):

The same applies here – a max sentence of a year in the county lock-up. Penal Code section 148(a)(1).

But again, a felony conviction for removing the officer’s firearm will also land you in prison for 1.25, 2, or 3 years pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(h)(1). See Penal Code section 148(c).

However, if you took any non-firearm weapon off their person (or from their immediate vicinity, such as from their patrol car), then, if you’re convicted of a misdemeanor, you’ll face the typical one-year-jail max. But a felony conviction will get you the usual Penal Code section 1170(h)(1) range – 16 mos. 24 mos., or 36 mos. Pen. Code section 148(b).

Defenses to Assault and Battery Criminal Charges -- Battery on a Peace Officer

The Judicial Council of California, which works directly with the California Supreme Court and issues the state’s Criminal Jury Instructions (“CALCRIM”), provides for the following defenses to the charges discussed above:

  1. You did commit the battery against the protected individual but did not do so because of his/her/their profession/occupation (for example, it was a domestic dispute);

  2. You did commit the battery against the protected individual because of their profession/occupation; however, they weren’t performing their official duties at the time of the attack (mitigation);

  3. The alleged battery was merely the result of an accident or otherwise unintentional act on your part (for example, someone pushed you and you then bumped into the accuser);

  4. You did commit the battery against the protected individual but you did not know, nor should you reasonably have known, that they were in a protected profession/occupation;

  5. You did commit the battery against the protected individual, and you did know, or you reasonably should have known, that they were in a protected profession/occupation, but you didn’t know, nor should you have reasonably known, that they were performing their official duties at the time of the attack;

  6. You did do all of the above but the accuser did not incur substantial physical harm (mitigation – i.e., the charge will be reduced);

  7. You were trying to protect yourself or a third person against the accuser;

  8. The purported victim consented to the alleged injurious or offensive contact; and

  9. The accuser did not fall into one of the enumerated protected classes of victim (mitigation).

See CALCRIM number 945 (“Battery Against Peace Officer -- Pen. Code §§ 242, 243(b), (c)(2)”).

See also CALCRIM number 946 (“Battery Against Custodial Officer -- Pen. Code §§ 242, 243.1”);

CALCRIM number 947 (“Simple Battery on Military Personnel -- Pen. Code §§ 242, 243.10”);

CALCRIM number 960 (“Simple Battery -- Pen. Code § 242”);

CALCRIM number 2671 (“Lawful Performance: Custodial Offıcer”); and

CALCRIM number 3470 (“Right to Self-Defense or Defense of Another”).

Assault and Battery Crimes – Battery on a Peace Officer -- Example of a Celebrity Case

Actress Heather Locklear Gets a Sweet Plea Deal for Two Domestic Violence-Related Cases

Heather Locklear (born in September 1961) was arguably the number-one drama TV actress in the late 70’s to early 80’s, having appeared in starring roles in such network hits as T.J. Hooker, Dynasty, Melrose Place, and Spin City. But she’s even more (in)famous for having been married to Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee (before he married what’s-her-name). Unfortunately, however, life didn’t turn out as planned for her as she spent years suffering from mental health, drug, and legal problems.

For example, in 2008, she was arrested by CHP officers for Driving Under the Influence of a Drug (California Vehicle Code section 23152(f)) after she allegedly drove erratically in a Santa Barbara shopping mall parking lot, repeatedly driving over a pair of eyewear, before zooming out to the street where she was pulled over.

Locklear lucked out with Informal Diversion (California Penal Code section 1001.94; California Penal Code section 1001.95), which ultimately resulted in the DUI charge being dropped.

Flash-forward a decade later and Locklear once again found herself in handcuffs. Specifically, at the end of February 2018, she was apprehended at her Thousand Oaks residence by Ventura Co. deputies for allegedly committing felony Corporal Injury to Spouse, Cohabitant, or Fellow Parent (California Penal Code section 273.5).

According to authorities, she had physically attacked and visibly injured her male partner (name unknown, age fifty-six). If there had been no visible injuries, she would have been charged with misdemeanor Domestic Battery (Penal Code section 243(e)(1)).

Even worse (for Locklear), she became verbally and physically combative with deputies, thereby impeding the performance of their duties. As a result, she was also charged with misdemeanor Resisting Arrest (California Penal Code section 148(a)(1)), as well as multiple misdemeanor counts of Battery on a Peace Officer (Pen. Code section 243(b)&(c)(1)).

But Locklear was extremely lucky that she wasn’t charged with Making a Criminal Threat (California Penal Code section 422) for allegedly telling the law enforcement personnel that she was going to shoot them with an unspecified firearm. This is not only a felony, but also considered to be a “Violent-Felony” Strike under California Penal Code section 667(a)&(b); and California Penal Code section 667.5(c) (“Violent Felonies”).

It was only after more deputies arrived that they were finally able to arrest her. By all accounts, she was clearly under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Locklear implied that she had been injured by her boyfriend during the alleged altercation, so was treated at a local hospital, after which she was booked into the women’s county jail facility.

See: latimes.com.

Less than four months later, in late June 2018, V.C.S.D. deputies once again were called to Locklear’s residence in response to another domestic violence call involving the same partner. And once again, she was allegedly combative and violent towards them, allegedly under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs again, resulting in her second arrest that year.

As a result, she was slapped with two more misdemeanor counts of Battery on a Peace Officer, as well as another misdemeanor Resisting Arrest count. In addition, this time she was also accused of attacking an EMT, thereby resulting in her being prosecuted for Battery Causing Injury to Specified Victim Not a Peace Officer (P.C. section 243(b)-(c)(1)).

Based on all the foregoing charges, Locklear was facing multiple years in jail, not including possible prison time for the felony DV count.

Locklear hired some competent lawyers who convincingly argued to the judge (who had combined the two cases) that at the time of the incidents, she had been suffering from a mental breakdown which caused her to self-medicate with drugs and booze.

The prosecutor was also convinced to make her a lenient deal, but asked the judge to incarcerate her for three months in the jail, arguing that regardless of her mental health issues, she had not sought treatment after the first incident and had physically attacked both deputies and EMTs during the second.

Almost exactly a year-and-a-half after her first arrest, in mid-Aug. 2019, Locklear accepted a nolo contendere plea to all the foregoing misdemeanor charges in consideration for the felony charge being dropped. She received a four-month suspended jail sentence, meaning that if she successfully completed a month-long in-patient rehabilitation stint, as well as 36 months of informal/summary probation, the felony count would be dismissed.

In treating her in such a lenient manner, the judge noted that none of the half-dozen victims had suffered significant physical harm. However, first-responder Jennifer Hayn-Hiton (age unknown) filed a personal injury suit against Locklear, claiming Locklear had in fact caused her permanent damage. But seven days before her plea was finalized, Locklear paid Hayn-Hiton an undisclosed financial sum in exchange for the case being dismissed.

According to the lawsuit, the EMT’s ability to continue working in that capacity had been permanently jeopardized by Locklear allegedly punching and kicking her. In addition, the plaintiff claimed she had been emotionally traumatized when Locklear allegedly told her she wanted the woman’s three kids to “die of AIDS”.

See: usatoday.com.

The Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm (LADALF)

Over the past 17 years, LADALF’s first attorney, Ninaz Saffari, has fought hundreds of battery-related charges with unparalleled success, including but not limited to the following:

Simple Battery (California Penal Code section 242);

Aggravated Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury (P.C. sec. 243(d));

Sexual Battery (California Penal Code section 243.4(e)(1));

Sexual Battery of a Restrained Victim (Penal Code section 243.4(a));

Domestic Battery (P.C. sec. 243(e)(1)).