What is Battery on a Peace Officer?

Battery on a peace officer
Battery on a peace officer is defined as willfully and unlawfully touching a peace office or other protected official in a harmful or offensive manner, while the officer is engaged in his/her duties. You can only be guilty of this crime if you committed the battery, or you knew or reasonably should have known that he or she was a peace officer. Those covered by California’s battery on a peace officer law include:

  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical technicians (EMT) or paramedics
  • Process servers
  • Employees of a probation department
  • Doctors and nurses providing emergency medical care

Penalties for Battery on a Peace Officer

This crime is typically a misdemeanor, and the potential penalties include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail, and/or
  • A fine up to $2,000.

If while committing this crime you caused injury to the peace officer it can be charged as a felony. When it is charged as a felony the potential penalties include:

  • Sixteen months, two years, or three years in a county jail, and/or
  • A fine up to $10,000.

Legal Defenses for Battery on a Peace Officer

This crime is taken very seriously in California. Because of this, it’s important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges. Some of the most common legal defenses used include:
You acted in self-defense or defense of someone else. – This defense can be used against to fight battery on a peace officer charges. It only a applies if all of the following are true:

  • You reasonably believed that you or someone else was in imminent danger of being harmed or touched unlawfully.
  • You reasonably believed that immediate use of force was necessary to defend yourself or protect another.
  • You used no more force than reasonably necessary to defend yourself or protect another.

You did not act willfully. – In order to be charged with this crime, you have to have acted willfully. For example, if you were uncomfortable while being arrested and moved your arm and accidentally hit an officer, you could not be guilty of battery because you did not do it willfully.
The officer was not performing his or her duties. – You are only guilty of battery on a peace officer if the officer was performing his or her duties. An officer is not considered doing his or her duties if he or she is:

  • Arresting or detaining someone unlawfully.
  • Engaging in police brutality.
  • Engaging in an unlawful search/seizure.
  • Engaging in unlawful racial profiling.

While these should not be punishable as battery on a peace officer, you can still be guilty of simple battery.

If you are charged with battery on a peace officer, be sure to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you fight.

Any questions? Contact us.