Battery refers to non-consensual, offensive touching of another individual, no matter how slight. Should the non-consensual touch result in serious harm to the victim, you could face battery with serious bodily injury charges under Penal Code 243(d). This offense is also called aggravated battery and an escalation from a simple battery offense, Penal Code 242 violation. Therefore, the penalties prescribed under PC 243(d) are harsher than a simple battery offense.

You need an attorney to fight battery with serious bodily injury charges. Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm understands the stakes in a Penal 243(d) case. Additionally, we bring our vast experience in successfully defending clients against PC 243(d) charges. Contact our team should you or a loved one be charged with battery with serious bodily harm in Pasadena.

Understanding Battery With Serious Bodily Injury

Prosecutors bear the burden of proof in this case. A jury will only find you guilty if the DA proves his/her case beyond a reasonable doubt.

First, the prosecution should prove simple assault. That is, you touched another in a harmful or menacing manner. Further, the touch should meet PC 243(d)’s threshold (non-consensual and offensive touching) while consequently causing serious injury to the victim.

The DA must prove the following elements in a battery with a serious injury case.

  • You willfully and illegally touched the alleged victim in an offensive or harmful manner.

  • The victim suffered serious bodily harm on account of your touch or force.

  • Your actions were not an act of self-defense.

Note: The difference between simple and aggravated battery is the extent of the injuries a victim suffers.

Here is an in-depth look at the elements.

Willful Action

You willfully touch another when you deliberately make physical contact with the alleged victim. Under Penal Code 243(d), Willfulness does not necessarily mean you intended to injure the alleged victim. However, it should not be accidental. Therefore, if the touch was unintentional or accidental, the battery did not occur.

Additionally, prosecutors could introduce witnesses to testify that you shoved or punched the alleged victim, used a knife or a firearm, or any other object threateningly to demonstrate willful action.

Illegal Touching

Touching, under PC 243(d), includes slight physical contact. Both indirect and direct physical contact will be considered. Further, even if you touch another through their clothing, you are liable under PC 243(d) as long as it results in physical harm.

Direct contact is achieved when you use any part of your body to touch another, for example, using your hand. On the other hand, you accomplish indirect contact when you use an object to make physical contact with another.

Harmful or Offensive Manner

Touching in an aggravated battery case should be offensive or harmful. Contact that is mean, violent, disrespectful, or achieved rudely or angrily is sufficient under PC 243(d) as long as it results in the victim suffering an injury.

Serious Bodily Injury

A primary issue in an aggravated battery case is the severity of the alleged victim's injuries. A jury will only find you guilty if the victim’s injuries meet the serious threshold.

Any impairment to a victim’s physical health is a serious injury in law. However, the victim does not need to seek medical attention for you to be liable under PC 243(d).

Whether an injury meets the serious standard is a matter of fact to be determined by the judge or jury. Therefore, it varies on a case-to-case basis. However, past court determinations show what the court could consider a serious injury. These injuries include the following.

  • Fractures, broken bones, or severe disfigurement.

  • Concussions.

  • Loss of a tooth to its roots.

  • Loss of consciousness.

  • Impairment of organ function.

  • Wounds that require stitching, for example, a cut under the eye that requires up to eight stitches or broken lips requiring suturing.

The list above is not exhaustive since the seriousness of an injury will be determined by a judge or the jury.

Not Self-Defense

Your actions should not aim at defending yourself or another from perceived danger or threat from the alleged victim. If you touched the alleged victim in a manner that resulted in injury to protect yourself or another, you are not guilty of a PC 243(d) violation. However, your actions must be reasonable in relation to the perceived threat.

Fighting Battery With Serious Bodily Injury Charges

Battery with serious bodily injury is a serious allegation. You need legal representation to improve your chances of an ideal outcome. Your defense attorney will choose a defense strategy based on the circumstances in your case.

Here is a look at the more common defenses your attorney could use.


A claim of self-defense to challenge PC 243(d) charges shifts the burden of proof to you, the defendant. You must demonstrate to the court your actions were reasonable and necessary, given the circumstances. This defense strategy works if the following are true:

  • You reasonably believed you or another person was in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm.

  • You thought the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against the danger.

  • You used no more than reasonable force required to protect you or another against the threat.

No Serious Injury

The question of the injury’s severity is highly subjective. An injury is serious if the alleged victim suffers severe impairment of a physical condition. Therefore, a broken or fractured bone is not enough if it does not cause physical impairment.

Impairment of an individual's physical condition means the injury affects the person’s mobility, drive, ability to work, or performance of day-to-day tasks. If the harm does not meet the above threshold, your attorney will argue that the injury was not serious in your defense.

Additionally, since courts do not require proof of medical treatment, presenting a medical report does not automatically mean the injury meets the injury’s legal threshold. Individuals can exaggerate their symptoms and have them corroborated by the physician’s medical assessment. Your attorney will demonstrate this to the jury in your defense. Further, he/she will point to the inconsistency between the symptoms and the injury should the prosecution introduce medical reports as evidence in the case.

Accidental Touch

You are not guilty of a PC 243(d) violation if you touched the alleged victim accidentally or unintentionally.

For example, you could be making your way through a crowded room and accidentally bump into an individual who falls and breaks their wrist. Your actions are accidental and in no way point to an intentional or willful act.

Additionally, this defense applies if you bump into another, causing them injury when drunk. It is agreeable that intoxication prevents you from making rational decisions. Thus, it is arguable that your bumping into another does not meet the intentional act threshold. Thus you are not guilty of aggravated battery. However, the DA could prefer an alternative charge like public intoxication, a PC 647(f) violation.

In some situations, you could miss using force on your intended victim but cause harm to another. For example, you take a swing at an individual. He pulls away, and the punch lands on his friend, breaking his tooth.

Could this punch be argued as accidental?

No. Though the punch landed on an unintended victim does not take away your willful action, taking a swing. So you cannot use the accidental touch defense in this case.

Penalties for a Penal Code 243(d) Violation

Aggravated battery is a wobbler offense. The DA can pursue misdemeanor or felony charges. His/her choice depends on the circumstances in the case and your criminal history.

Note: If you have a prior conviction, the DA could pursue felony charges. Without priors, most first-time aggravated battery charges are prosecuted as misdemeanors. However, you could be charged with felony charges if the injuries are extensive.

A conviction for a misdemeanor violation will result in:

  • A fine not exceeding $1,000 and/or

  • A jail sentence of up to one year.

  • Summary or informal probation instead of jail time.

Felony convictions are punishable by:

  • A fine of up to $10,000 and/or

  • Two, three, or four years in jail.

  • Alternatively, a judge can issue formal probation terms instead of jail time.

Penalty Enhancements

Note: You risk facing additional penalties if the victim suffers great bodily injuries. According to Penal Code 12022.7, great bodily injuries are substantial physical injuries. This definition is broad. Therefore, it is up to the court to decide whether the injury is significant.

Like serious bodily harm, great bodily injuries (GBI) are a matter of fact to be determined by the jury. In their assessment, the jury considers:

  • The severity of the injuries.

  • The pain the victim experiences owing to the injuries.

  • Any medical attention is required to treat the injuries.

If the jury determines the victim’s injuries meet PC 12022.7’s standard, the judge will enhance your penalties. You will receive an additional three to six years in jail to be served consecutively and not concurrently.

Examples of injuries that meet the GBI threshold include, but are not limited to:

  • A fractured jaw.

  • Permanent paralysis.

  • Serious disfigurement.

  • Gunshot wounds.

  • Loss of a limb.

  • Broken nose.

  • Second-degree burns.

  • Severe pain inflicted by torture.

  • A fractured pelvis that requires surgery.

  • Non-superficial stab wounds.

  • Brain injuries that result in a coma or brain damage.

  • Loss of eyesight or hearing.

Further, causing great bodily injury will result in a strike to your record. According to California’s Three Strikes Law, first-time strikers will have a strike added to their criminal record, which will impact the penalties in subsequent convictions.

If you are convicted of a PC 243(d) violation for causing GBI as a second strikeable offense in your record, you will face double the time behind bars issued by the judge.

A third strike is more severe. You will be required to spend 25 years to life in prison.

Other than the severity of the injuries, judges also consider the victim's age. If the victim was under five years of age or at least 70 years old and the physical harm was significant, you could face a penalty enhancement.

Offenses Related to Battery With Serious Injury

Prosecutors consider three crimes as possible alternatives to PC 243(d) violations or as likely additional charges. The offenses are:

  • Simple battery, a PC 242 violation.

  • Mayhem, a PC 203 violation and

  • Assault with a deadly weapon, a PC 245(a)(1) violation.

  1. Simple Battery

It is an offense to willfully and unlawfully use force or violence on another individual. You can be found guilty even if the victim suffered no injuries or pain. All that is required is that you offensively touch the victim.

Prosecutors must prove the following.

  • You touched another — You must have made physical contact with the alleged victim. Under PC 242, it is not a requirement that the victim suffered an injury. Therefore, a slight touch warrants a simple battery charge. Further, the contact can be either direct or indirect.

  • There was willful action on your part — An intentional act points to deliberate action, not necessarily to committing a crime, hurting another, or gaining an undue advantage. It is not a requirement that you intended to cause battery for you to be found guilty.

  • The touch was harmful or offensive — The contact should be either done disrespectfully, angrily, rudely, or violently.

Simple battery becomes an alternative charge if the DA lacks sufficient evidence to secure a guilty verdict in an aggravated battery charge.

Alternatively, your attorney could opt for a simple battery charge to avoid the harsh penalties PC 243(d) prescribes, should you be convicted. So, you will have to plead guilty to simple battery.

Penalties Under PC 242

Simple battery does not result in serious injury. Therefore, the penalties are less harsh when compared to those issued for aggravated battery.

PC 242 violations are misdemeanors punishable by summary probation or six months in jail. You also risk a $2,000 fine if convicted.

Note: Simple battery is only an option if the victim is not a protected person or a peace officer.

  1. Mayhem

Mayhem is a crime under PC 203, best described in the following actions:

Maliciously and unlawfully:

  • Permanently disfiguring another.

  • Removing another individual’s body part.

  • Slitting a person’s ear, nose, or lip.

  • Disabling or rendering useless another’s body part beyond what can be considered slight or temporary.

  • Putting out another’s eye or injuring his/her eye in a manner that compromises his/her ordinary eyesight.

You act maliciously when you intentionally commit a crime, do a wrongful act, or act with unlawful intent to injure or annoy another. You, therefore, are not guilty of mayhem if your actions were accidental.

Note: You are likely to face mayhem charges even if you did not intend to commit any of the abovementioned acts.

On the issue of disabling a part of another’s body, PC 203 only requires you to injure another and cause a disability, however slight. Further, the disability need not be permanent. Temporary disability is enough to warrant a conviction under PC 203.

For purposes of PC 203 violations, an injury can be permanent even if it can be resolved through a medical procedure.

For example, cutting off another’s fingers warrants a conviction under PC 203. However, it is possible to reattach the finger through a medical procedure.

Penalties Under PC 203

Mayhem is a felony offense. Convictions result in the following penalties:

  • Formal probation as opposed to time in prison.

  • Two, four, or eight years in prison, and/or

  • A fine not exceeding $10,000.

A judge could enhance your penalties if the alleged victim is:

  • Blind or deaf.

  • Above 65 years of age.

  • A minor under the age of 14 years.

  • Quadriplegic or paraplegic, or

  • Developmentally disabled.

If proven, your sentence will be increased by one or two years, provided you reasonably knew or should have known that the relevant facts above were actual.

Note: Mayhem is a strikeable offense and will result in enhanced penalties as detailed in California’s Three Strikes Law.

  1. Assault With a Deadly Weapon

You commit an offense under PC 245(a)(1) for attempting to attack or striking another individual with a deadly weapon. This offense is abbreviated as AWD and is also referred to as aggravated assault.

Assault, as defined under PC 240, is the unlawful attempt coupled with the present ability to inflict a violent injury on another.

The DA would result in charging you with a PC 245(a)(1) violation, primarily if you used a knife, firearm, or other dangerous weapons in an assault case. Under the law, he/she must prove the following elements as actual to secure your conviction.

  • You acted in a manner consistent with applying direct force to another individual.

  • You performed the act with force likely to cause significant bodily injury or with a lethal weapon.

  • You acted willfully.

  • You were aware of the facts that would lead a reasonable individual to conclude that acting in such a manner could result in applying force to another individual.

  • When you acted, you had the present ability to apply force likely to cause significant bodily injury or with a lethal weapon.

Victims do not have to suffer injury for you to be found guilty of the crime. The court focuses on the potential of your actions to result in the application of force and not whether force was indeed applied.

If the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove you made physical contact with the alleged victim, they would prefer charging you with assault with a deadly weapon.

Here is a detailed assessment of the abovementioned elements.

Application of Force

Application of force refers to the harmful or offensive touch, no matter how slight, done directly or indirectly.

It bears emphasizing that it is not a requirement that you succeed in applying force onto the alleged victim. All that is required is that you took deliberate action that could have likely resulted in using force on another.

Deadly Weapon

Some weapons are automatically identifiable as deadly since their use results in great bodily harm to the victims. The list includes loaded firearms, knives, and tools like a sledgehammer.

PC 245(a)(1) also considers tools that, if used angrily or violently, have the potential to inflict GBI or kill someone. This consideration expands the list to any object as long as it meets the above threshold. The potential items that make this list include:

  • Unloaded firearm.

  • BB guns.

  • Bottles, if used to attack someone.

  • A vehicle, if used to attempt to run over someone.

  • A pencil, should you use it to stab another.

  • A dog, if commanded to attack another individual.

Great Bodily Injury

The force should have the potential to inflict great bodily injury.

Willful Action

Your actions should be deliberate. However, you do not necessarily intend to hurt another, break the law, or gain an unfair advantage.

Penalties Under PC 245(a)(1)

ADW is a wobbler offense if the weapon used was not a gun.

A conviction on misdemeanor charges results in the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor or summary probation or

  • One year in jail and/or

  • A fine not exceeding $1,000.

A conviction on felony charges results in the following penalties:

  • Felony or formal probation or

  • Up to four years in prison and/or

  • A fine not exceeding $10,000.

The penalties become severe if the weapon used was a gun or the victim was a peace officer or a protected individual.

You could be prosecuted on misdemeanor or felony charges if you used an ordinary firearm like a pistol or revolver. The penalties remain as detailed above. However, you will have to serve a minimum of six months if convicted of misdemeanor violations.

Should you use any of the following weapons, your charges become an automatic felony that results in a prison sentence of up to twelve years.

  • Semi-automatic firearms.

  • 50 BMG rifles.

  • Assault weapons.

  • Machine guns.

If the victim is a peace officer or any protected individual, the prosecution must prove you knew or should have reasonably known their status. A conviction will result in five years in prison. If you use a firearm, your prison sentence increases to twelve years.

Contact an Experienced Pasadena Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Are you or a loved one facing aggravated battery charges in Pasadena?

The Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm is ready to offer assistance. You stand a better chance of fighting aggravated battery charges with our help. Contact our team at 626-628-0564 for a free case assessment.