Battery Frequently Asked Questions – California Penal Code 242 PC
California Penal Code 242 PC defines battery as any willful use of force or violence on another person.
TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE VARIOUS ASPECTS OF A BATTERY CHARGE, I HAVE PROVIDED ANSWERS TO SOME OF THE MOST COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS.
(1) WHAT DOES "TOUCHING IN A HARMFUL OR OFFENSIVE MANNER" MEAN?Any touching can be construed as "harmful or offensive" if committed in an aggressive, rude or angry manner. To be charged under Penal Code 242, California law does not require that the contact cause pain or injury of any kind.
Even touching the clothing of another, and not the physical person, can be sufficient for a battery charge if you did so in a "harmful or offensive manner."
(2) WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ASSAULT AND BATTERY?Penal Code 242 PC defines battery as the willful use of force or violence on another person. Any physical contact, no matter how slight, can constitute a battery. So long as the alleged victim did not consent to the touching, you may be found guilty of committing a battery.
On the other hand, assault is defined as an attempt to commit a battery. If you failed to physically touch the person of another but attempted to do so, you may be found guilty of assault. Our team of experienced battery defense attorneys can help you to understand the difference between these two, often mistakenly interchanged, crimes.
(3) WHEN IS AN ACT "WILLFUL"?Any contact is considered "willful" if you committed the act on purpose. California law does not mandate that you break the law, cause injury to another, or gain any advantage from the contact. If you intended the action or touching, you may be criminally liable.
(4) CAN I BE CHARGED WITH A BATTERY EVEN IF THE HARMFUL TOUCHING WAS DONE BY ACCIDENT?Generally no. Under California Penal Code section 242 you can only be convicted of a battery if you acted willfully or intentionally. As stated above, in order for you to have acted willfully you must have acted on purpose or with the intention to commit the contact. For example, if you were walking down a crowded street and unintentionally pushed another person you will not be convicted of a battery because you did not act willfully.