California Penal Code 242 Attorney
Society's feelings and reactions to crime usually involve authorities being tougher on crime. It's rarely a losing political strategy to say you are going to crack down on crime, and it's usually a winning strategy to claim that your opponent, especially if they are an incumbent, is not tough enough on crime. What this means is that even a misdemeanor, such as Penal Code 242, can carry serious repercussions. Those repercussions extend beyond the legal penalties as well. A criminal conviction can mean career, financial, and social impacts as well. It's important, then, that you take every measure to defend against these kinds of charges and the consequences they bring. At Barhoma Law, we can help you do just that.What Is Penal Code Section 242?
California Penal Code Section 242 is the section of the penal code that addresses simple battery. It defines it and lays out the penalties for it. There are three components of a simple battery as defined by the law, and all three must be present for it to be a simple battery. The three components are:
- The willful and unlawful touching of another person: This includes the use of an object in the touching.
- The touching must be harmful or offensive: A reasonable person must have viewed the touching as harmful or offensive.
- There must be no legal excuse: Something like self-defense, defense of someone else, or reasonable discipline of a child may be a legitimate legal defense.
In most cases, the touch in question will be forceful in nature, but there may be cases where that is not necessarily so.Difference Between Assault and Battery
Assault and battery are often confused for each other or assumed to be the same thing. They are, though, two different crimes. Assault in California is described in Penal Code 240. Assault, in the context of battery, can be thought of as an attempt to commit battery. Therefore, assault is an attempt to inflict unwanted touching or physical harm on another person without a legal excuse. If that attempt is successful, it becomes a battery.Penal Code 242 Penalties
The legal penalties of a battery conviction can vary based on the unique circumstances surrounding the incident. The court will likely consider if the conviction is a first offense, the damage done, and any mitigating circumstances. Some of the possible elements of the penalty include:
- Probation - It's possible that the court may use probation. This could be in the place of some or all of the jail time that is possible. The restrictions that probation will place will be dependent on the circumstances. It will likely include regular check-ins with a probation officer.
- Anger Management Class - In circumstances where the judge deems it necessary, anger management may be required. Completion of a court-approved course may, in some cases, lead to a reduction of other penalties.
- Firearm Ban - While not a felony, a conviction of this misdemeanor can, in some cases, carry a firearm ban that can last up to 10 years.
- Fines - A maximum fine of up to $2000 may be levied.
- County Jail - Up to six months in county jail could be penalized.
Unfortunately, the consequences of a criminal conviction aren't limited to those handed down by the court. There can also be social, career, educational, and financial consequences. A criminal conviction means that the convicted will have a permanent criminal record. That record will show up on background checks, which can create problems.
- Employment Difficulty - A permanent criminal record will appear on the background checks that most employers run. In many cases, this could lead to employers choosing other candidates for their positions.
- Reduced Educational Opportunities - Just like employers, colleges and universities run background checks. A criminal record can sometimes lead to rejection from admission.
- Disqualification for Student Loans - Even those who can get accepted to a university may find it challenging to acquire the funding that they need to be able to attend. Many student loan programs automatically deny anyone with a criminal background.
- Challenges With Professional Licenses - There are many professional licenses that will automatically disqualify candidates with a criminal record. For others, the possibility of acceptance exists, but it can often be difficult to do so. This is another way that employment opportunities are limited by a criminal record.
- Financial Difficulties - In some cases, a criminal record can negatively impact an application for a loan or line of credit.
- Loss of Reputation - Those with criminal records are often treated very differently within society. When you meet someone, they might behave one way and then very differently after they learn of a criminal background. For some people, a criminal conviction has even led to a breakdown in their relationships with family and friends.
The guiding principle of the American judicial system is the concept of innocent until proven guilty. This is an important thing to remember when thinking about defenses for Penal Code 242 charges. It means that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. They must prove that you are guilty of battery. Your defense does not have to prove your innocence.
The standard that the court will need to consider is whether the prosecution has proven the defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." This means that a successful defense is one that creates a "reasonable doubt" that the defendant is guilty. This can be accomplished in a number of ways.Attack the Validity of the Prosecution's Evidence
Among those strategies is attacking the validity of the prosecution's evidence. It may be that the evidence linking the defendant to the victim is flawed. A defense can identify those flaws and make sure that the court sees those flaws in a way that could create doubt.
Another potential issue that the defense could highlight could be problems with eyewitness testimony. More and more research demonstrates the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, especially the longer that time has passed since the situation in question. If there is reason to suspect that witness testimony may be unreliable, either because of the circumstances or even a lack of credibility on the part of the witness, then identifying these flaws and showing the court the issue can be a valid defense.Analyzing the Legal Qualifications for Battery
It's helpful to remember that battery, according to Penal Code 242, consists of three components. That means that each of those three components must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense, then, may take a tactic that concedes one or more of the components and focuses on attacking the prosecution's presentation of a particular component. As a reminder, the three components are:
- The defendant touched someone else, both willfully and unlawfully.
- The touching that occurred must be harmful or offensive to any reasonable person.
- There must not have been a legal excuse for the touching that occurred.
In the case of the first element, there are a few different tactics that the defense can take. The defense may, depending on the evidence available, attack the prosecution's evidence and argue that no touching ever occurred. If the defense can demonstrate a reasonable doubt that the touching in question ever took place, then the defendant can't be convicted.
Another strategy may be that the defense could concede that battery may have occurred, but that the defendant was not the person who committed that act. This could be done by attacking the prosecution's evidence that attempts to tie the defendant to the act. It could also be accomplished by proactively offering evidence for an alibi. In other words, if the defense can establish, or at least demonstrate with enough credibility to create doubt, that the defendant was elsewhere at the time of the incident, then they could be ruled "not guilty."
Another possible defensive strategy attacks the directive that the touching must have been "willfully" done. The defense may argue that what occurred was an accident. This particular defense actually flips the burden of proof, which means that, for it to be a successful defense, the defendant's lawyer will need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that what occurred was not willful but rather an accident.
To accomplish this, the defense must prove the three components that legally make up an accident. They are:
- The defendant had no criminal intent in the action that they took.
- The action that the defendant took must also not be criminally negligent. It's possible that someone can be so unaware of the situation or do something so reckless that, even if they didn't intend to commit a criminal action, it can still be considered criminal. In other words, they had a duty to behave with a certain amount of care, but they didn't. For the accident defense to be proven, this must not be the case.
- The defendant must have been engaged in lawful conduct at the time of the accident. If the defendant was doing anything illegal at that time, it is not considered an accident.
Other defenses may choose to target the second element that the prosecution is required to prove: that the touching was harmful or offensive. Depending on the extent of any injuries present, the defense could have a hard time arguing against harm. However, there may be the ability to argue against a claim that an action was offensive. It must be something that is considered offensive to a reasonable person. The line is not exactly clear. We understand that tapping someone on the shoulder to get their attention is not likely going to be considered offensive, whereas shoving them to the ground would likely be understood that way. However, if the situation around the touching was ambiguous, the defense could try to argue that the touching wasn't offensive.
Another possible defense is consent. If it can be shown that both parties agreed to the kind of touch or physical contact ahead of time, then it may not be considered battery. For instance, even harmful contact, like what might occur in a sporting event, is not going to be considered battery because both parties agreed to participate.Attacking the Third Element
Lastly, there are defenses that address the question of whether there was a legal excuse for the touching to occur. In other words, there are legal protections for circumstances when willful, harmful, or offensive contact can legally occur. In these cases, the defendant is admitting that harmful or offensive touching willfully occurred on their part. However, it then argues that it was justified, given the particulars of the incident.
One possible defense justifying what might otherwise be considered battery is self-defense. Generally, self-defense will be argued when the defendant is not the one who started turning a conflict physical, although it is possible for that not to be the case. To successfully argue for self-defense, the defense must demonstrate three things:
- The defendant believed that they were going to suffer bodily injury, and they believed that danger was "imminent."
- The defendant had a reasonable belief that force was necessary to defend against imminent harm.
- The defendant did not use more force than was reasonably necessary for their defense.
For a self-defense argument to be successful, each of these conditions must be met. The imminent danger might be satisfied by the other party striking first, but it could also be shown based on threatening words or even a physical stance, such as holding a knife in a threatening position. While you are required to not use more force than is necessary, that does not mean that you are required to attempt to flee. California is a "stand your ground state." This means that you are allowed to use force, even if you may have been able to retreat to safety.
Typically, it is difficult to argue for self-defense on the part of the aggressor in a conflict. There are, though, a few situations where that is a possibility. In these cases, to argue successfully, the defense must show that the defendant has either of two options:
- Started a conflict with an attack of non-deadly force and was met with deadly force in response
- Made a good faith effort to stop the fighting and made that clear to the other party
Another legal justification, in some situations, regards the rights of parents to discipline their children. Within the law, there are exceptions for parents to use physical force in the process of disciplining their children. However, for this to be a successful defense, it must be shown that the discipline was:
- Not excessive given the circumstances
There are a few strategies that defenses might want to take that are not going to be considered viable options. One of these is provocation. Self-defense may be valid if there is a threat or something that reasonably leads someone to believe that they are in imminent danger. Other words and actions, even if upsetting, offensive, or angering, are not considered justification in cases involving battery charges.
Another defensive tactic that would be considered invalid is if the defendant was voluntarily intoxicated. The defendant is considered to have known that intoxication, whether through drugs or alcohol, can affect mental functioning. Since they made the choice to accept that outcome, they are considered to also have accepted the results of that decision. If, though, the defendant can show that they didn't choose to consume an intoxicant, then involuntary intoxication may be a valid defense.Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations determines how long after an incident that criminal charges can be brought against a person. Because Penal Code 242 is a misdemeanor, charges must be brought within one year of the incident. However, if the battery was committed on a minor under 14 years of age, the charges can be brought at any point within three years of the incident.Defending Against Charges
If you've been charged with a crime, there are three options for how you can handle your defense.
One option may be to defend yourself. This, though, is not a great option. The law is complex, even in the case of something like a simple battery. Legal procedures can also be challenging and foreign to those not used to dealing with them. Lack of experience or knowledge, though, isn't the only reason why defending one's self is not advisable. There's also the issue of being too involved. Handling the law requires a cold, calculated approach that sets aside emotions and feelings during the process. That's something that is practically impossible to do if you are the person whose fate is being decided by the trial. That's why, for instance, even talented, successful lawyers won't choose to defend themselves if they are brought up on charges.
Another possibility is that you may be offered a public defender. While these are often competent lawyers, they are also often overworked lawyers. You can't be certain that a public attorney will be able to give your case the attention and thorough approach that you desire. There's a lot riding on the outcomes of even something like a misdemeanor charge. You want to make sure that you have someone able to devote themselves to your case in a way that leaves you confident that you will have a strong defense.
Your third option is to hire a criminal defense lawyer. One of the things that makes this such an appealing option is that it allows you to decide who will represent you and present a defense on your behalf. This means that you can find someone you trust to put forth your strongest case rather than being stuck with whoever the court assigns to you. When you pay for the services of a criminal defense lawyer, you are purchasing their time and attention for your case. This ensures that you get someone who can be invested in your defense and seek to get a satisfying outcome for your circumstances.How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
A good criminal defense lawyer can be crucial to giving yourself a strong defense and a formidable chance at winning your case. They can even begin their job before you are formally arrested or charged with anything. In some cases, an arrest on battery charges can occur very soon after the incident in question. In other cases, though, there may be some time and investigation before charges are brought. If you are being investigated for battery or any other crime, it's crucial that you call a criminal defense lawyer like those from Barhoma Law.Protect Your Rights From the Beginning
You have rights that should be observed even, or especially, during an investigation. We can help make sure that they are. You have a right against self-incrimination. You also have a right to silence. These are things that we can help ensure are honored. We can also help you make sure that you don't accidentally forfeit those rights.
If you are arrested, our job of protecting your rights continues. Make sure you call us as soon as you can. We can't help defend your rights if we don't know what's going on. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can begin our investigation as well.Investigate Your Case
The investigation is one of the most important jobs that a criminal defense lawyer does. The investigation that we conduct can provide the foundation for a strategy to defend you against charges. The investigation can involve a variety of different things, depending on the needs of the case. Taking a look at the police report is a key part of it. We may subpoena important documents if they are relevant. This can include things like any photo or video of the incident if it's available. We may also interview any witnesses related to the situation. Generally, we gather any facts or anything else that we believe may be helpful in defending you.Building a Defense
After we have finished with the investigation, we need to begin putting together a defense for your case. We can probably begin to understand what form your defense might take during the investigation stage. Once the relevant information and facts are gathered, we can really understand what the right option for a defense might be. Part of this process involves considering what the prosecution's claims will likely be. If we can foresee the argument they'll make, then we can poke holes in that argument and try to create reasonable doubt. If it makes sense, we may also prepare a more proactive defense, such as arguing self-defense.Manage Court Processes
If there is a situation where a plea bargain makes the most sense, we can help negotiate with the prosecution for a deal that is favorable for you. Before the trial, we'll likely make motions that do things like try to get charges thrown out or keep questionable evidence out of any proceedings. When the trial comes, it's our job to represent you and put forth the strongest argument in your defense that we can manage. If the case doesn't go our way, we fight to get the lightest sentence possible by presenting things like mitigating factors as reasons why the judge should take a lighter hand. If possible, we can even continue to help you through the appeals process as well.
From start to finish, a good criminal defense lawyer does everything in their power to keep you from getting a guilty verdict. If that's unavoidable, they do what they can to keep the penalties that you endure to a minimum. That's what we do for our clients at Barhoma Law.What to Do If You're Arrested
If you're arrested, how you handle the situation can be critically important to your case. Certainly, it seems a bit unfair that what is such a foreign, disorienting experience can lead to things that could be used against you in court, but that's the reality of the situation. You may be confused, frustrated, angered, or even shamed by the arrest, but it's important that you do a few things that help prevent you from hurting your case.
The first thing you'll want to remember is to keep your composure. It's not unreasonable to feel upset about the situation, but any lashing out you do will probably only result in additional charges or something that could be used against you in whatever you are being charged with. Ideally, you should simply remain as calm as you can and let the process work. It's always better to try to work through the system rather than against it.
The next thing that is critically important to protect yourself is to say as little as you possibly can. When you are arrested, you should be read your Miranda rights. In the arrest process, they will inform you that you have the right to remain silent. It will generally benefit you to use that right. The police are not your friends in this situation. They are well-trained to try to get a confession in a number of different ways. Even what may seem like casual small talk could very well be an attempt to get you to lower your guard. It's important that you don't say anything that can be used against you in court. The only way to guarantee that you don't do that is by using your right to remain silent.
Lastly, remember to call Barhoma Law as soon as you can. We can help investigate your case as quickly as possible. We can help defend your rights and ensure that you don't say something that incriminates yourself. We may even be able to get the charges dropped before the case ever makes it to court. We certainly try to do so, and the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can begin that process.What Makes for a Good Defense Lawyer?
Given the need for a defense lawyer, a natural question would be how to pick a good one. There's no exact formula for what makes for a good defense lawyer, but there are things to consider that are more likely to be valuable than others. Above all, though, you want to make sure that you are comfortable and confident in your lawyer. You are trusting them with a significant responsibility, and you want to make sure that you are working with someone worthy of that. There are some traits, though, that you generally should be keeping an eye out for. They include:
- Honesty - You don't want a lawyer who is going to lie to you about the realistic situation you are in. You want someone who is honest with you about what you're facing and what you may want to consider about your circumstances.
- Knowledgeable - It's important to have a lawyer who truly is knowledgeable about the kind of case and law that you need help with.
- Experienced - Knowledge has its value, to a point. You also want to work with someone who has experience. Especially in criminal defense, it's crucial that you have someone who's argued a defense before a court. You want someone who knows what to expect and won't be surprised by anything that comes up.
- Detail-Oriented - The smaller details can often make a large difference in the outcome of a case. You want your lawyer to be someone who recognizes those details and knows how to use them to your advantage.
Don't let the name "simple battery" under Penal Code 242 mislead you. Even though it is a misdemeanor, a conviction can certainly complicate your life. This is especially true if the charge is paired with more serious criminal charges as well. At Barhoma Law, we help protect our clients' rights and defend their innocence in court. We understand that being charged as the defendant in criminal proceedings can sometimes feel like the whole system is working against you. We can stand with you against the prosecution and fight to see that you get a fair chance and that your side is heard. If you've been hit with Penal Code 242 charges or any other charges, or if are even just being investigated, then contact us today. We are ready to review your situation with you.