Battery | California Penal Code 242 [PC 242]

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lawstachesticker_vectorizedBattery | California Penal Code 242 [PC 242]

Battery under California PC 242 is a willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon a person of another. Battery can vary from punching someone to minor contact with another person body. The victim does not have to suffer tremendous injuries or any physical injury fort hat matter for the perpetrator to be convicted of a criminal battery. In fact, the perpetrator may even touch only the clothing of the victim and still be convicted. 


The prosecution must prove that the perpetrator acted willfully. Willfully simply implies that you acted with purpose or willingness to commit the act. It does not require any intent to violate the law or to injure another. This means that a person knocking another to the ground as the bus begins to move should not be convicted of a battery if he did not act with purpose but a reaction/instinct. 

If the some of the elements of the battery crime are missing, the prosecutor may decide to prosecute under a related assault statute. Assault is commonly referred to as “attempted battery”.


A battery us usually charged as a misdemeanor as is punishable by a fine not exceeding $2000, or by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 6 months, or both. The punishment can become much more severe depending on the victim. Spouses, police officers (PC 243(b)), prison officer, passengers and drivers of public transportation (PC 243.3), persons on school grounds (PC 243.5), elders, and others are put in special protected group of persons. 


The defenses to a battery include consent, self-defense, defense of others. If you are charged for battery on your child, then the showing of reasonableness of discipline or the force not being excessive may be a defense.

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