Battering or assaulting someone who is lawfully designated as a peace officer could result in serious repercussions. Sadly, you can be falsely accused, especially if you are involved in an incident involving the police. If you are facing charges of assault and battery of a peace officer in Anaheim, you might require our legal assistance at the California Criminal Lawyer Group.
Understanding Assault and Battery Crimes Under California Law
As per California’s PC sections 243(b) and 243(c) respectively, battery on a peace officer is a crime that involves an offender touching or offensively hitting an officer. Threatening or an attempt to batter or assault someone is punishable in the same way as committing the offense. The terms are explained differently in states that have an assault and battery law:
- Assault is defined as a threat of using punitive bodily force against someone to intimidate them
- Battery, on the other hand, is defined as the actual infliction of physical harm towards another person
An assault and battery crime could incorporate the use of dangerous weapons to endanger the peace officer, such as a dagger, knuckles made of metal, firearms, knives, clubs, to name a few. These threats could be aimed at getting control of the police or robbing them of their weaponry. It's important to note that even inflicting harm to a police horse or dog, or destroying their gear such as breathalyzers, is considered an attack on the police since it impedes or frightens the peace officer from conducting his or her job.
Influencing the public to revolt against the peace officers is also a form of assault on the officers because you are attempting to put the cops' jobs in jeopardy. Anyone who commits the offense of assaulting or battering a member of the public is subject to punishment. There are two sets of legislation applicable to the offense of assault and battery in some states:
- The legislation for assault towards any member of the general public
- The assault and battery code on peace officers
When a peace officer is battered or assaulted in a state lacking the above-mentioned assault on peace officers' code, the sanctions are more severe than when a citizen is involved. Assault or Battery on a Peace Officer could include the following scenarios:
- Shooting an officer
- Murdering police officers
- Bullying police officers in a mob
- Hitting an officer while he or she is trying to calm you down
Peace officers, on the other hand, frequently misapply this type of violation for the following purposes:
- To hide their police misconduct like using force during arrests, so the accused feels scared enough to believe they were in the offense
- To defend their actions when they went above and beyond what was required
- To demonstrate authority and how the accused should surrender to them
- To intimidate individuals they don't like or defendants they've had trouble tracking down or investigating
From the foregoing, it's clear that peace officers can falsely accuse and fix you for battering or assaulting them.
Official Duties of a Peace Officer
Any law enforcement officer, in general, is considered a peace officer. The role of a peace officer, correctional officer, search and rescue officer, institution law enforcement officer, park officer, judge, and any other individual is to maintain the peace in any public setting. Some peace officers' definitions have been expanded to include professionals like firefighters and emergency medical responders.
Official duties mean that the peace officer is carrying out his or her tasks as outlined in their respective employment code, regardless of when the assault or battery offense occurred. For example, an officer engaging in a scuffle between people after establishing their positions is acting in the course of his or her official duties. Even if the arrest is unlawful, it's still an official obligation because the jury will decide whether the arrest was legitimate or not. Other activities that count as carrying out official duties involve:
- Attempting to obtain information from an individual to investigate a case
- Accepting a person into custody after they have been caught committing a crime by the general public
- Manning rehabilitation center, detention, or any other correctional institution
- Putting out a fire or probing a fire accident
Common Cases of Battery on a Peace Officer
An assault or battery violation can easily occur in a variety of scenarios. Examples of such events include:
Resisting arrest is notably common and can lead people to be charged with assault or battery on a peace officer. Regardless of whether the arrest is legal or illegal, everyone is obliged to conform to it. With or without a warrant of arrest, the officer can detain you if he or she suspects you're committing or are about to break the law. There is no need for you to resist arrest.
Any aggression you use against the detaining peace officer could be construed as an attempt to hurt him from carrying out his legal responsibilities. Worse, if the officer is injured, the allegations against you will be heightened, and you will not be compensated for your losses and injuries sustained during the altercation if the law enforcer used force against you.
While being arrested, it's best to stay cool and focused. Even if the desire to revolt and exact vengeance is strong, never speak or do anything that suggests resistance. Any remark you make or action you take individually can be used by the officers to extend a charge beyond the one that necessitates an arrest. You could get in trouble if you defy a peace officer's orders. And, believe it or not, the jury always favors the officer's testimony over that of anyone else. Defying peace officers is the same as fighting against the legal system as a whole.
Offenders also attack or assault peace officers to pave way for their criminal acts. To terrify the cops, gang groups could, for example, fire shots in the air. When the officers engage them in combat, they exchange fire with the peace officers to eliminate them. Apart from laying the groundwork for committing a crime, they are also aimed to secure firearms. All of these actions point to an assault.
Peace officers, particularly police officers, should assess the circumstances and apply the appropriate force. To deal with individuals, they should utilize the step-by-step procedure outlined below:
- Physical presence to deter citizens from breaking the law
- Only use physical means of control the public such as grabs, punches, or kicks
- Use verbal communication to warn the civilians. Note the communication should not have threats
- Using non-lethal weapons like whips, tear gas canisters, and dogs
- Using deadly firearms such as guns and pistols to fire in the air or at defendants who are adamant about breaking the law
Normally peace officers, to be specific police officers, are dispatched to calm civil unrest-related revolts. When a peaceful demonstration devolves into chaos or it's undertaken without following proper regulations, then the officers' deployment is necessary. The police could use force if they believe the people are planning to commit an offense such as indecent exposure, trashing the streets, public unrest, or property destruction. The civilians could retaliate by throwing stones at them, their cars, or their dogs, setting their trucks on fire, or trying to disarm them.
All of these actions constitute assault and battery on peace officers and thus are lawfully punishable if you're proven guilty. However, you should avoid situations in which you and the officers could get into a fight. This is because you can get injuries as a result of the excessive physical force against you for which you would not be recompensed.
Another cause is evading the chance of misidentification, which is common when individuals of different races are identified. While the police try to apprehend the demonstrators' leaders, they could be bullied and intimidated by the crowd. Also during the arrest, the individual being detained may attack the officers.
Facing Assault or Battery on a Peace Officer Charges
When you're arrested or summoned to court, the prosecution has the task of persuading the judge or jury that you're guilty of assault or battery on a peace officer. The following aspects of the allegations must be proven by the prosecution:
- The defendant touched or handled the peace officer unlawfully and willfully intended to intimidate, harm, or insult them
- The peace officer was performing official obligations at the time of the assaulting or battering crime
- The defendant had every cause to believe and knew that the individual he or she battered or assaulted was a peace officer
Although state laws on assault and battery differ, some states demand proof of a bodily injury before charging a person. Other governments, on the other hand, only require a threat because it implies real action if the occasion arises. When there is evidence of injury, the fines in these states are heightened.
As previously stated, the offender is charged with fulfilling the 3 elements of battery and assault offenses. However, the accused may not sensibly know that the individual was indeed a peace officer. Below are signs that the accused failed to notice that the victim was a peace officer:
- Driving a vehicle that belongs to an organization or an entity, such as a police car, ambulance, fire truck, or security agency
- Trying to apprehend you or others for purportedly committing a criminal offense
- Possessing an emblem to signify their group or wearing official attire that is noticeable for the institution they represent
- Performing tasks affiliated with peace officers, such as directing public emergencies and medical treatments, controlling traffic, or putting out fires
- Stating their duties to you and/or another individual
Other Offenses That Can Be Convicted Alongside Battery on a Peace Officer
Several offenses, such as those listed below, could be charged in conjunction with assault and battery. They are as follows:
Obstruction of Justice
This offense is filed against the defendant together with assault and battery charges for interfering with the peace officer's duty. As a result, resisting the officer could imply that you were against the prosecutor, judge, or jury. The term "obstruction of justice" comes from:
Providing a false statement or acting in a way that would prevent an investigating officer from obtaining evidence
Threatening a peace officer with bodily harm to hinder them from doing their duty
Any threat that restricts or stifles the officer's ability to operate at their best
This crime also involves disrupting the officer's ability to perform his or her official responsibilities. Resisting an arrest is a punishable offense on its own since it can obstruct justice in other situations. In the following situations, you could be detained and charged with resisting an arrest, which is known today as fleeing:
- When a police officer applies extra bodily force, such as chasing after you or settling a possible duel, to subdue your opposition
- When you flee a spot where you should have stayed if the police hadn't arrived.
- Falsifying personal details to avoid falling into the authorities' hands
- Failing to board an officer's vehicle forcing him or her to haul you.
- The defendant refused to surrender his or her hands while being arrested
Legal Defenses Against an Assault and Battery of a Peace Officer
Even though the officer's testimonial against the defendant could be strong, there are several defenses available to beat the case.
No Signs To Recognize The Peace Officer
The criminal lawyer can argue that the defendant could not have easily recognized the peace officer. The circumstances of the detention and the officer's description should be scrutinized to see if there was any evidence that the individual was a peace officer. If any of the elements listed above that could be used to reasonably recognize a peace officer aren't met, you could be able to claim that you attacked the law enforcer in self-defense. If the officer's identity is jeopardized, for example, by his or her emblem not shown prominently, you could allege that you committed the act solely because you believed your life was at risk.
Excessive force could be necessary for self-defense. If self-defense is warranted, there is a chance to escape. This getaway is possible if the court examines the following considerations in determining whether the excessive force applied indicated that your life was at risk:
- The intensity of the circumstances that caused the peace officer to use force, as well as the fact that the accused allegedly attacked the officer.
- Whether or not the defendant was a danger to the officer or other individuals
- Whether the offender used force to resist arrest or escape the crime scene
- The warnings that the peace officer issued or were meant for the offender
- There were other options apart from using excessive force
Self-defense is only appropriate when the following conditions exist:
- The defense shows that the law enforcement officer was the first one to assault the defendant
- There is evidence that the force applied in self-defense was comparable to that used by the peace officer
The Act Was Unintentional
During a court trial, the prosecutor must show that you intentionally engaged in the act of assault or battery on the peace officer. The defense could argue that the action that caused harm to the law enforcement agent was a reflexive response. This would have happened as a result of stimuli like heat or pain. If there is proof that you were touched offensively against your consent, the accusations will almost certainly be dropped.
Defendant's Rights Have Been Infringed
The defense lawyer will also assist you in getting out of the situation by reviewing the allegations and facts to determine whether the officer infringed your rights. This is because anything which other officers view as a battery or an assault on their colleagues would prompt them to rush to their aid. In their emotional outbursts, they could neglect the defendant's rights. The reactions would jeopardize the Miranda warnings' legitimate information provisions, which each arrested individual is entitled to.
In addition to not being briefed, the accused's rights could also be breached if they indicate that they will remain silent and refuse to be interrogated. In most scenarios, the officers would use force to compel the accused to cooperate after misunderstanding their silence. As a result, the infringement of Miranda rights becomes a strong defense.
Penalties For Assault or Battery On a Peace Officer Offense
If the prosecution succeeds in charging you with battering or attacking a peace officer in court, you could face a variety of penalties. The intensity of the conviction is determined by the weight of proof against the defendant and the degree to which his or her defense has fought the allegations.
As per California PC 243(b) and 243(c), a primary assault or battery offense against a peace officer is considered a misdemeanor crime. If convicted, it attracts the following repercussions:
- Payment of a fine of not more than $2000
- Summary probation
- Jail sentence in a county jail for a maximum of 1 year
The following sanctions apply only when the offense does not result in any injury. California’s PC 243(b) and 243(c) mandate more severe actions when the assault or battery results in injury. In this case, an injury necessitates professional medical attention for the peace officer. Seeking healthcare unnecessarily doesn't constitute battery or assault as directly causing an injury.
When the assault or battery causes harm to the officer, it's considered a wobbler. This means that based on the circumstances, it could be tried as either a misdemeanor offense or a felony if the:
- Circumstances under which the battery or assault occurred
- Nature and extent of the peace officer's injuries
- The offender's criminal background
If the violation is tried as a misdemeanor, the foregoing penalties stand, with the exception that fines are increased up to $100,000. Note that this increment is only applicable when a police officer is engaged.
When an assault violation is convicted as a felony, the following consequences apply:
- Hefty fines of up to $10,000
- Attend a formal probationary hearing
- Serving jail time for a period ranging between Sixteen months to three years
Since both misdemeanor and felony convictions carry penalties that must be followed, it's important to know the probation listed as a penalty below:
Low-level assault perpetrators are sentenced to misdemeanor probation, often termed summary probation. Instead of being imprisoned, these perpetrators spend a significant portion or all of their convictions on probation.
Anyone charged with a misdemeanor offense, including minors, first-time offenders, and anyone else, can face probation. The judge will determine if you will make positive use of the opportunity. The purpose of supervised probation is to:
- Keeping the public safe
- Rehabilitate the offender
- Restore the accused's sanity to maintain good judicial relations
Probation is granted at the discretion of the judge or as part of a plea bargain with the defense lawyer. Misdemeanor probation normally doesn't include jail time. However, that isn't always the case. Even if a prison sentence is imposed, it will be for a short period.
You could dismiss the probation due to its provisions and instead opt to serve a jail term. The defense attorney will assist you in making the best decision possible. The court cannot enforce the probation on any perpetrator. When an offender accepts probation, they should adhere to the following requirements:
- Not to break any laws
- Reimburse those who have been injured
- Seek a decent job
- Undertake mandatory community service
- Attend counseling sessions
The misdemeanor offender is obligated to return to court regularly for examination. The judge assesses whether the defendant is making progress toward his or her rehabilitation.
In California, formal probation is normally offered instead of imprisonment. The defendant spends part of his or her sentence in prison and the rest of it under the close supervision of a probation officer. The officer assesses the progress of the defendant's behavior and makes recommendations to the judge on how to progress. If a felony perpetrator qualifies for formal probation, the court will take into account the following factors:
- The attitude of the offender towards probation
- The offender's criminal history
- The impact of the prison sentence on the perpetrator
- The severity of the peace officer's injuries
- Whether the defendant was armed when he or she attempted battery or assaulted the peace officer
- The temperament of the offender and whether or not the assault or battery was complicated
- The severity of the offense
Find a Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
An allegation of assault and battery on a peace officer is equivalent to attacking the entire judicial system. As previously stated, this offense is handled with the utmost seriousness. Alongside an assault/battery conviction, other infractions could also be levied against you. Whenever your freedom seems to be on the line as a result of impending fines, our experienced defense lawyers at California Criminal Lawyer Group can be your best shot at a reduced sentence. We aggressively defend people facing criminal charges in Anaheim. Call us at 714-766-0965 right away.