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Battery: What is the law and punishment?

California Penal Code 242 PC "battery" is a misdemeanor that can result in a fine and jail time.  Battery is a common charge in the criminal court system.  Many everyday encounters can result in a battery even when no harm has occurred. 

What Must Be Proven in a Battery Case?

PC 242 requires the following to be proven:

  1. The defendant used force or violence upon the person of another; and
  2. the force was willful and unlawful;

Battery does not require harm or injury to occur in the victim.  The slightest unwarranted contact is a battery.  In addition, the contact can be solely with an object in the possession of the victim such as clothing or a bag on their shoulder.

In the United States justice system, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  The prosecutor has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt that a battery occurred.

What are the penalties for Battery?

PC 242 is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a fine up to $2,000 and/or 6 months in county jail.

What are the Defenses to Battery?

The force was not willful

The legal definition of willful requires you to have acted purposely.  Intent to cause the harm that resulted is not required.  If the alleged battery was the result of an accident or unintentional act by the defendant, a battery has not occurred.  


Self-defense is a defense that may be used if a defendant believes they are in imminent threat of harm to their person and only use sufficient force to prevent that harm.  This is a tricky defense in that, a defendant is conceded a battery occurred but is justified in using the force.  An experienced attorney will be able to review the evidence to determine if self-defense was justified in a particular situation.  

Bottom line, you need an experienced attorney who is willing to walk you through the entire process, evaluate your case effectively for weaknesses and exploit the issues in your case to achieve the best results.  The Law Offices of Steven McNicholl has that experience and will get you through your case in the best shape possible.

See also

PC 240 Assault

Contact Us Today!

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, call the Law Offices of Steven McNicholl at (951) 405-0990. We have the skill and experience in San Bernardino County to protect your rights and get the best results in your case.

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