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California’s Penal Code includes two sections covering Battery on a Peace Officer: 243(b) and 243(c) PC. The definition of the crime is: “Willfully and unlawfully touching a peace officer or other protected official in a harmful or offensive manner, while the officer is engaged in the performance of his/her duties.” The logic behind these laws is clear: Our peace officers have a job to do and interfering with that job is a serious crime. It could result in loss of life, even if you fail to harm the officer in question.
When someone is charged with this crime, they are rightly alarmed and should immediately seek the advice of a lawyer. The stipulation of violating this part of the penal code is that you should have “reasonably” known that the victim was a peace officer at the time of the crime.
What is a Peace Officer?
We generally know that a police officer is a police officer. What you might not know is that they also include:
– Probation department workers
– Process servers
– Nurses and doctors in the process of providing emergency care
If you’ve been charged with violating either applying section of 243, you’re looking at two potential sentences:
1. $2,000 fine and up to a year in jail or both
2. $10,000 fine and 16 months, two, or 3 years or both
Punishments are laid out in Section 1170, and this is the one you need to familiarize yourself with, as it’s the description of your potential punishment for violating this part of California’s penal code. Both charges are serious and could yield jail time. Only a good lawyer can help you avoid this fate.
Some examples of this crime include:
– Scratching a police officer during an arrest (yours)
– Punching a parole officer
– Attacking an EMT while they’re trying to help you
The majority of these cases result in a misdemeanor charge, but you can also be charged with felony battery of a peace officer, and the consequences for this crime are more severe and include prison time. The potential for a felony charge begins when the harm you do to the peace officer requires them to seek medical treatment. As a wobbler offense, the prosecution can make it a felony or misdemeanor. If it’s serious enough, it could result in up to 3 years in county jail, a miserable plight for any defendant to anticipate.
Legal Defenses For This Type of Battery
There is a whole slew of defenses that your lawyer will have at his disposal, including but not limited to:
– Self-defense (saying you acted in self-defense against the peace officer)
– Lack of willfulness in your actions
– Lack of reasonable knowledge that the person was even a peace officer
These three defenses remain three of the most prominent and have yielded successful results for defendants in the past. If you’ve been charged with this crime, there’s a great chance that your lawyer will be able to get a more desirable outcome for you. Without an attorney, fighting a charge like this can be nearly impossible. The state of California takes this crime very seriously, as you are attacking people who save lives and protect lives on a daily basis, so they will aggressively pursue the charges. Without a lawyer, you might not be able to beat the charge or have it reduced to a lesser offense.
A lawyer can help you avoid the most serious of consequences in this serious charge, and in some cases, they can even have the charges against you dismissed. At the very least, they can negotiate a plea arrangement that will keep you out of jail and give you another chance to get any help you might need. And if you’re completely innocent, they will aggressively fight for your rights and make sure that you have the best legal representation possible against unfair charges. Defense attorneys are trained to fight for justice, but they can’t fight for you unless you call. Call today to get the help you need.