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Battery Crimes: Law, Sentence & Defense

(PC 242 & 243)

Information on the crime of battery is found at California penal code section 242 and 243(d). PC 243(d) is battery causing serious bodily injury.

Battery is defined as willfully causing bodily injury to another person, or touching another person in an offensive way, without consent, or legal justification (PC 242).

To prove that the defendant is guilty of battery (PC 242), the prosecutor must prove that the defendant:

  • Purposefully touched another person in a harmful or offensive manner, and the touching caused bodily injury, or

  • The touching was highly offensive, and

  • The defendant did not act in self-defense, in defense of another person, or with the consent of the person touched

Note: Injury is not required to prove battery; however, if serious bodily injury is caused, then the defendant may be charged under PC 243(d), which carries harsher penalties and a longer jail sentence.

The defendant does not have to directly touch the alleged victim. Indirect touching will also qualify as a touching for PC 242 charges. For example, if the defendant uses a stick to touch someone, and the touching caused injury or is highly offensive, then the defendant will be charged with battery, even though the touching was not a direct touching.

A highly offensive touching is a touching that does not cause injury but would otherwise be highly offensive to the average person. For example, grabbing another person's arm in anger or touching the private parts of another person would be considered battery.

Sentence for Battery (PC 242 & 243(d))

PC 242 Battery, also called simple battery, is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of PC 242, the defendant may serve up to 180 days in the county jail.

PC 243(d) also called aggravated battery, may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If found guilty of misdemeanor PC 243(d), the defendant may be sentence up to one year in jail; if found guilty of felony PC 243(d), the defendant may be sentenced up to four years in prison.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision, with or without jail, and may be granted in both felony and misdemeanor battery charges. As stated, when probation is granted the court may order some jail time as a term of probation, but jail time associated with a probation sentence is generally much shorter than the maximum sentence and that jail sentence may usually be served alternatively by work release or electronic monitoring (house arrest). Whether or not a probation sentence (with or without jail) will be granted in any particular battery case depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

Three Strikes Crime: Felony battery charged under PC 243(d) is considered a serious offense under California's Three Strikes Law and conviction of felony battery may trigger a third strike for defendants who have previously been convicted of two prior strike offense. 

Crime of Moral Turpitude: Crimes of moral turpitude are crimes that are considered morally wrong. Crimes of moral turpitude carry special punishment for licensed professionals and immigrants. Neither simple battery charged under PC 242, nor aggravated battery charged under PC 243(d) is considered a crime of moral turpitude; however, felony battery charged under PC 243(d) may be considered an aggravated felony if the defendant is sentenced to more than a year in jail or prison. Aggravated felonies also carry special punishment with immigration (for non U.S. citizens).

Firearm Prohibition: Any conviction for aggravated battery charged under PC 243(d) carries a firearm prohibition.

In addition to any jail sentence, criminal convictions for PC 242 and 243(d) can lead to other severe consequences including: fines, civil lawsuits, restitution, employment loss (professional and occupational license), increased punishment for future crimes, criminal protective orders (restraining orders), anger management classes ordered, and more.

Defense to PC 242 & 243(d)


While every battery charge is supported by different facts, common defenses to battery charges include: self-defense, defense of others, mutual combat, insufficient evidence, intoxication, insanity, consent to touching, statute of limitations, mistake of fact as to consent to touching, implied consent (athletic competition, intimate encounter), coerced confession, alibi, and more.

If you have been charged with simple battery under PC 242 or aggravated battery under PC 243(d), contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation and to learn your rights and defense options without delay. Our successful and experienced criminal defense attorneys have defended hundreds of misdemeanor and felony charges, including battery charges. Our attorneys are available seven days a week. Call today!


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Related Crimes


  • PC 242 Simple Battery

  • PC 243(d) Aggravated Battery

  • PC 243(e)(1) Battery of a spouse or cohabitant

  • PC 243(c)(2) Battery on peace officer

  • PC 243.4 Sexual Battery

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