Introduction

Battery with Serious Bodily Injury is a self-explanatory crime: the defendant is alleged to have attacked the victim and thereby significantly injured him/her/them. This offense is also known as

Aggravated Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury (California Penal Code section 243(d): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-243.html), but it is essentially a more serious version of Simple Battery (California Penal Code section 242: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-242.html).

The obvious difference between Simple Battery and Aggravated Battery is the degree of injury. Specifically, the former charge does not even require any injury at all – only “offensive” contact.

And both these offenses differ from Simple Assault (California Penal Code section 240: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-240.html), which does not require any contact whatsoever with the accuser to secure a conviction thereunder.

Battery with Serious Bodily Injury can – depending on how badly you allegedly hurt the accuser – be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. This is therefore known as a “Wobbler” (California Penal Code section 17(b): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-17.html).

As a result, the maximum sentence you can receive for a misdemeanor conviction is 365 days in jail; for a felony, it’s four years in a California penal institution.

Assault and Battery Crimes – Battery with Serious Bodily Injury -- “Strikes”

Importantly, if you caused a particularly egregious injury to the victim, then you can also be charged with a Strike Offense (California Penal Code section 667(a)&(b): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-667.html

More specifically, such an injury would cause your Battery with Serious Bodily Injury charge to be escalated to what’s known as a “Violent-Felony” Strike under California Penal Code section 667.5(c)(8): https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=667.5.&lawCode=PEN

You can also be charged with a Violent-Felony Strike if you committed the underlying Aggravated Battery while intending to commit most sex crimes, as well as certain other violent offenses, such as Mayhem (California Penal Code section 203: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-203.html & California Penal Code section 205: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-205.html).

See Penal Code section 667.5(c)(15).

Although this doesn’t really make much sense, alternatively, for the exact same egregious-injury battery crime, you can also be charged with a “Serious-Felony” Strike under California Penal Code section 1192.7(c): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-1192-7.html).

A Strike conviction on your record can result in significant additional prison time, ranging from five extra years to life in prison, depending on whether this is your first Strike offense. At minimum, it means that your eligibility for early parole will be pushed off to a later date – for example, from one-half for a non-Strike term to four-fifths of your Strike term with good behavior.

California Statutes – Assault and Battery Crimes -- Battery with Serious Bodily Injury

California Penal Code section 242: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-242.html) (Simple Battery):

The crime of Aggravated Battery/Battery with Serious Bodily Injury begins with this statute, which criminalizes what is commonly known as Battery or Simple Battery. As defined therein, this offense – which, in the absence of substantial physical harm to the purported victim – is always charged as a misdemeanor, and consists of a “willful and unlawful use of force or violence” against him/her/them.

More specifically, this offense entails you physically touching the accuser in an injurious or offensive way. Thus, it is not necessary for you to actually harm him/her/them; you need only touch them in a rude or hostile manner.

Also, the touching can be indirect; for example, where you touched the accuser through their clothing or used an object/instrument to complete the injurious or offensive contact.

California Penal Code section 243(d): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-243.html) (Aggravated Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury):

Not surprisingly, this statute criminalizes the most egregious type of Battery charge – i.e., one which results in severe physical wounding to the accuser.

Strangely enough, this is also characterized as a “Wobbler Offense” (California Penal Code section 17(b): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-17.html), meaning that depending on the severity of the accuser’s injury(ies), you can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. (The prosecutor determines what to charge you with.)

According to the Judicial Council of California, a legal panel which sets forth the elements of specific crimes and which works directly with our state supreme court, “serious bodily injury” means any significant “impairment of a physical condition”. This includes the following:

  1. Rendering the accuser unconscious;
  2. Concussing the accuser;
  3. Breaking the victim’s bone(s);
  4. Substantial/long-term loss of use or disability to the victim’s appendage(s)/organ(s);
  5. Injuring him/her/them to such a degree that they require multiple stitches/staples;
  6. You maim the victim by causing significant “disfigurement”.

See the Judicial Council of California’s Criminal Jury Instructions (“CALCRIM”) number 925  (“Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury -- Pen. Code §§ 242, 243(d)”): https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/800/925/

Keep in mind that in regard to item (vi) above, if indeed you actually disfigured the victim, such as cutting off a finger or poking out an eyeball, then you will, instead, almost certainly be charged with Mayhem (California Penal Code section 203: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-203.html & California Penal Code section 205: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-205.html).

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

This is a related crime to Battery with Serious Bodily Injury and is codified in the same statute. It breaks down into two sub-types of this offense.

The first involves you committing battery without causing significant physical harm to the following individuals (as well as those in similar professions/occupations):

  1. Prison/jail guard;
  2. Fireman;
  3. EMT;
  4. Lifeguard;
  5. Service-of-process worker;
  6. Doctor;

To be convicted of this crime, the accuser must have been performing his/her/their official duties, even if they were off work and/or out of uniform at the time, and you must have known – or reasonably should have known – that they were doing so at the time of the battery.

Unlike Battery with Serious Injury, this sub-type is always charged as a misdemeanor.

See Penal Code section 243(b).

The second sub-type of this charge involves battery against the foregoing individuals but with significant physical harm to the victim. As a result, the Deputy District Attorney assigned to your prosecution has the power to charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the harm (among other factors). Therefore, this is once again known as a “Wobbler” (California Penal Code section 17(b): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-17.html).

See Pen. Code section 243(c)(1).

Assault and Battery Crimes -- Battery with Serious Bodily Injury -- Convictions

California Penal Code section 242: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-242.html) (Simple Battery):

Simple Battery is not only always charged as a misdemeanor but a relatively benign one at that. Specifically, unlike most misdemeanors in California, which have a potential maximum county-jail sentence of twelve months, a conviction hereunder will at most get you half that time.

See Penal Code section 243(a).

However, as with any Battery conviction, you’ll automatically lose your Second Amendment right to carry, possess, transport, buy, sell, or use a gun for a minimum of 10 years.

California Penal Code section 243(d): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-243.html) (Aggravated Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury):

Once again, the prosecutor decides whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony hereunder. If it’s the former, then – unlike with Simple Battery, but as with most California misdemeanors – the most you’ll get is three hundred and sixty-five days in a county facility.

But if you’re convicted of a felony for this offense, the low, mid, and high prison terms are twenty-four (24), thirty-six (36), and forty-eight (48) months, respectively.

See Felony Prison Term Not Specified (California Penal Code section 1170(h)(1): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-1170.html).

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

Without significant harm to the victim, which would result in you being charged with a misdemeanor, at most you’ll get a year in the county jail (or twice what you would get for Simple Battery).

See Penal Code section 243(b)

But if you’re convicted of a felony, which by definition means you inflicted significant physical harm on the victim, then regardless of the professional/occupational status of him/her/them, you’ll face the same low, mid, and high terms for prison as a felony conviction for Battery with Serious Bodily Injury: one-and-a-quarter, 2, or 3 years, respectively.

See Pen. Code section 243(c)(1).

Assault and Battery Crimes – Battery with Serious Bodily Injury -- Sentencing Enhancements

In addition, to any enhancement for a Strike Offense (California Penal Code section 667(a)&(b): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-667.html; California Penal Code section 667.5(c) (“Violent Felonies”): https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=667.5.&lawCode=PEN; California Penal Code section 1192.7(c) (“Serious Felonies”): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-1192-7.html), you will also receive enhancements ranging from 3 to 20 additional years in a state penitentiary if any of the following factors are present in your case:

Personal Use of a Dangerous Weapon During the Commission of a Felony (California Penal Code section 12022: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-12022.html)

Inflicting Great Bodily Injury (GBI) (California Penal Code section 12022.7: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-12022-7.html) – “Serious injury” is defined as “great bodily injury” (California Penal Code section 12022.7: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-12022-7.html)

Inflicting Great Bodily Injury (GBI) On A Child Under the Age of Five Years (California Penal Code section 12022.7(d): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-12022-7.html)

Gang Enhancement (California Penal Code section 186.22: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-186-22.html)

Hate Crime
(California Penal Code section 422.55: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-422-55.html)

Injuring an Elderly Person
(California Penal Code section 368(b)(2): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-368.html).

Defenses to Assault and Battery Criminal Charges -- Battery with Serious Bodily Injury

CALCRIM’s jury instructions allows for the following defenses to the above-discussed criminal charges:

  1. The battery resulted from a purely accidental situation;
  2. Someone else caused you to commit the battery without your knowledge or approval (for example, someone pushed you on the subway platform, which caused you to bump into the victim, who then fell onto the tracks and suffered serious harm);
  3. The alleged battery actually resulted from a consensual activity (for example, you were in a karate tournament match with the accuser);
  4. The accuser suffered either no harm or very little physical harm (possible mitigation to Simple Battery under California Penal Code section 242: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-242.html
  5. You only battered (and thereby significantly wounded) the purported victim because he/she/they were attacking you or someone else (keep in mind that for self-defense to apply, you or the other person must have been placed in reasonable fear of imminent injury or death);
  6. The injury inadvertently resulted from you disciplining your child (but you must have been acting reasonably within your parental rights);
  7. The victim was not one of the enumerated individuals identified above (mitigation – that is, you’ll still be charged with some other crime, such as Simple Battery).

See CALCRIM number 925 (“Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury -- Pen. Code §§ 242, 243(d)”): https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/800/925/

See also CALCRIM number 926 (“Battery Causing Injury to Specified Victim Not a Peace Officer -- Pen. Code §§ 242, 243(b)–(c)(1)”): https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/800/926/

CALCRIM number 3470 (“Right to Self-Defense or Defense of Another”): https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/3400/3470/

CALCRIM number 917 (“Insulting Words Are Not a Defense”): https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/800/917/

CALCRIM number 3471 (“Right to Self-Defense: Mutual Combat or Initial Aggressor”): https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/3400/3471/

CALCRIM number 3472 (“Right to Self-Defense: May Not Be Contrived”): https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/3400/3472/

CALCRIM number 3474 (“Danger No Longer Exists or Attacker Disabled”): https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/3400/3474/

Examples of Assault and Battery Crimes – Battery with Serious Bodily Injury (and Similar Charges)

Nineteen-Year-Old Alleged Gang Member Gets Almost Nine Years in Prison for Racially-Motivated Assault

In mid-May 2019, a nineteen-year-old Long Beach resident, Bryan Blancas, got into a heated argument with a seventeen-year-old boy (who was Black) from the same school (presumably a high school) – though over what remains unclear.

However, Blancas apparently believed the minor was affiliated or even a member of a rival gang. When the younger male ran away, Blancas chased him down, caught up with him, and repeatedly punched and kicked him in the face and upper torso.

Less than a week later, after Blancas was somehow identified (perhaps because he was known to the victim or the two eyewitnesses) and arrested and prosecuted for the following offenses:

Felony Aggravated Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury (California Penal Code section 243(d): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-243.html);

Assault by Means Likely to Produce Great Bodily Injury/Aggravated Assault (California Penal Code section 245(a)(4): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-245.html) (as an alternative charge if “serious injury” cannot be proven);

Gang Enhancement (California Penal Code section 186.22: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-186-22.html); and

Hate Crime
(California Penal Code section 422.55: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-422-55.html) (presumably Blancas was a Latino who uttered racial epithets against the victim).

Approximately five-and-a-months later, in late Oct. 2019, Blancas accepted nolo contendere pleas to all the foregoing charges, including the Special Allegations for the gang and hate-crime enhancements.

Blancas clearly had a terrible attorney because the “deal” he agreed to could not possibly have been worse for him. Specifically, it resulted in 8 yrs. in prison – serious time for someone who was still a teenager. Or perhaps not, since, theoretically, he was looking at a potential life sentence with a potential seventeen-year enhancement.

The “no-contest” plea itself was not surprising, considering the fact that there were three eyewitnesses (including the victim), coupled with the fact that one of the percipient witnesses filmed the entire incident on his iPhone, which he then posted on the internet.

See: https://abcnews.go.com/US/teenager-sentenced-years-prison-gang-related-hate-crime/story?id=66436833

Former Professional Basketball Star Gets Slap on the Wrist for Attacking Nightclub Patron

In early April 2018, a former NBA basketball star, Ronald Davis (then age thirty-two), would later admit to getting into a fight with another patron outside a club in the San Fernando Valley, during which Davis slammed the other man against the side of the club’s building. Unfortunately for both Davis and the victim (who, for some reason, was not identified in the media), the latter was grievously wounded in the attack.

It remains unclear when exactly Davis was arrested by L.A.S.D. sheriff’s deputies, but he was charged two months after the incident with felony Battery with Serious Bodily Injury (California Penal Code section 243(d): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-243.html).

Also, because of the particular severe injury, Davis was also charged with the Special Allegation of Inflicting Great Bodily Injury (GBI) (California Penal Code section 12022.7: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-12022-7.html).

As a result, Davis was looking at a sentence of almost eight yrs. in a California penitentiary if convicted of both counts.

More than twenty months after the incident, Davis – as most celebrity defendants do in LA County – received highly preferrable treatment when he accepted a nolo contendere plea to the battery charge in consideration for the dismissal of the Special Allegation.

Specifically, he received zero jail time, much less any prison term, and was ordered to do just over three hundred hours of volunteer work over a one-year period. Plus, assuming he successfully completed his three-year formal probationary period and paid the victim more than a hundred thousand dollars in restitution, Davis would be eligible to have his Felony Reduced to a Misdemeanor (California Penal Code section 17(b): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-17.html).

See: http://www.espn.com/espn/wire/_/section/nba/id/28285237

Glendale Senior Citizen Accused of Intentionally Trying to Run Over Bicyclist

In mid-January 2016, Glendale resident Dennis Reed (sixty-nine) allegedly swerved his late-model German sports sedan in the direction of an unidentified bicyclist in the same city. Unfortunately for Reed, a second bicyclist filmed the alleged attack on his iPhone.

Although it remains unclear whether the purported victim was actually injured in the incident, the Los Angeles County DA’s Office believed the attack was intentional (for reasons that remain unknown) and, therefore, had Reed arrested and charged with:

Assault with a Deadly Weapon (ADW) (California Penal Code section 245(a)(1): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-245.html)

Assault by Means Likely to Produce Great Bodily Injury/Aggravated Assault (California Penal Code section 245(a)(4): https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-245.html)

Making a False Police Report (California Penal Code section 148.5: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-148-5.html).

Reed may have sealed his own fate by allegedly thereafter filing a false police report with Glendale PD against the purported victim, claiming the bicyclist had vandalized Reed’s vehicle by intentionally striking his vehicle. (The specific charge would have been Vandalism (California Penal Code section 594: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/penal-code/pen-sect-594.html).

Based on the charges, Reed, if convicted thereof, could be sentenced to a year-and-a-half in the Los Angeles County Men’s Jail (http://shq.lasdnews.net/pages/tgen1.aspx?id=MCF).

See: https://www.latimes.com/socal/glendale-news-press/tn-gnp-me-assault-20160511-story.html

Unfortunately, there were no further media reports about this case.

The Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm (LADALF)

LADALF’s original attorney, Ninaz Saffari, has effectively fought against hundreds of different assault and battery-related charges against her clients, including on behalf of minors. Some of these outstanding results can be found in the “Cases” dropdown menu on this website’s home page.