Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury – California Penal Code § 243(d)
The crime of “battery” under California Penal Code 242 is generally described as offensive touching. This means if you physically touch someone without consent you could be guilty of PC 242 battery. When non-consensual touching results in serious injuries to a victim, then you could be charged with “battery causing serious bodily injury” described under California Penal Code § 243(d).
A Penal Code § 243(d) violation is also commonly known as “aggravated battery”, meaning the crime is more the serious version of a “simple” battery.
Obviously, the primary difference between a simple Penal Code 242 battery, and a Penal Code 243(d) aggravated battery, is the issue of level of injury that was sustained by an alleged victim. Either type of battery conviction can result in harsh legal consequences that can impact future opportunities.
To give readers a better understanding of aggravated battery charges under Penal Code 243(d), our California criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.
What is Considered a Serious Bodily Injury?
Typically, a primary argument in a Penal Code § 243(d) aggravated battery case is whether a victim’s injuries qualifies as a “serious bodily injury.” A serious bodily injury is described as any serious impairment to a victim’s physical health.
It should be noted that there is no requirement that an injured victim has to receive some type of medical treatment in order to define an injury as serious. There are many types of injuries that can qualify as serious, such as broken bones, concussion, serious wounds, disfigurement, and more.
In the end, whether or not an injury is “serious” as defined under Penal Code § 243(d) is a fact based question that has to be determined on a case-by-case basis. This means the final decision on whether there was a serious bodily injury issue has to be committed to the judgment at a jury trial.
This often leads to different results. There can be aggravated battery cases with no broken bones or a loss of consciousness, etc, but a jury can still find a defendant guilty after deciding a serious bodily injury occurred.
On the flip side of this argument, there are aggravated battery cases where a victim sustained injuries that would seem obvious to qualify as serious, such as serious cut needing stitches, but a jury will acquit the defendant after they decided there was insufficient evidence of a serious bodily injury.
Great Bodily Injury (GBI) Enhancement
The level of injury issues can become more complicated in felony aggravated battery prosecutions where there is an additional allegation that the victim sustained a great bodily injury (CALCRIM 3160).
A great bodily injury is a distinct theory from a serious bodily injury. It means you might face an additional criminal sentence enhancement for a felony aggravated battery. However, a jury will first need to determine that a victim suffered “great bodily injury” that is defined under California Penal Code 12022.7.
As stated, “great bodily injury” is separate and distinct from a “serious bodily injury.” A great bodily injury is described as a significant or substantial physical injury.
By law, a serious bodily injury is a lesser standard than great bodily injury. Not all cases of Penal Code § 243(d) battery causing serious bodily injury will involve a situation where it was found to have caused a great bodily injury.
Recall the description of a great bodily injury, which is commonly defined as a significant or substantial physical injury. In general, a great bodily injury is a higher standard than serious bodily injury. It’s also another fact-based decision that has to be decided by a jury at trial.
If jury decides a victim’s injuries rose to the level of great bodily injury, there is an additional three to six years in a California state prison, along with sentence received for being convicted of violating Penal Code 243(d), aggravated battery.
Penalties for Penal Code 243(d) Aggravated Battery
Penal Code 243(d) battery causing serious bodily injury (CALCRIM 925) is another famous “wobbler” crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. If convicted of a PC 243(d) misdemeanor, the penalties are a maximum of one year in county jail, a $1,000 fine plus penalty assessments, or both.
If convicted of a PC 243(d) felony on the other hand, the penalties are a maximum of two, three, or four years in California state prison, a $10,000 fine plus penalty assessments, or both.
It should be noted that a felony conviction for battery causing serious bodily injury will also result in loss of gun rights. As stated, in a felony case, if a great bodily injury enhancement is found true by the jury, a defendant could receive an additional three to six years in a California state prison.
There are some California offenses that are related with Penal Code 243(d) battery causing serious bodily injury, including:
Penal Code 240 – Assault
Penal Code 242 – Simple Battery
Penal Code 243(e)(1) – Domestic Battery
Penal Code 243.4 – Sexual Battery
Penal Code 243(b) – Battery of a Police Officer
Penal Code 245(a)(1) – Assault with Deadly Weapon
Penal Code 273.5 – Corporal Injury to Spouse
Penal Code 368 – Elder Abuse
Fighting Penal Code 243(d) Aggravated Battery Charges
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can use many common defenses against charges of battery causing serious bodily injury.
This includes a self-defense or defense of others, by which we make an argument you only reacted to the alleged victim’s initial aggression with reasonable force to protect yourself or someone else from imminent bodily injury or death.
Also, specific to Penal Code Section 243(d) case, we might be able to argue that even though you committed an assault, the victim’s injuries were not “serious.” If successful, it could result in the reduction of the charges to just a simple battery under Penal Code § 242, which carries significantly lower penalties at sentencing.
A Penal Code § 243(d) violation for battery causing serious bodily injury is a serious charge, especially if the case is filed as a felony offense and where there is a great bodily injury enhancement allegation. It’s quite possible to face state prison time if convicted.
If you were charged with battery causing serious bodily injury, a violation of Penal Code § 243(d), contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the case and options. We can discuss the steps to improve the chances of a favorable outcome, including prefiling intervention.
Cron, Israels & Stark is an experienced team of criminal defense attorneys located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We also have an office located at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.