If you are accused of assaulting a peace officer, you may be in serious trouble, depending on the severity of the allegations laid against you. Like many other crimes in California, battery on a peace officer is a wobbler crime, meaning it can be treated as a misdemeanor or as a felony.
The first thing you will need to do is get yourself a good lawyer, like https://www.monderlaw.com/. You will need to go through the details of the encounter with your attorney to figure out the best approach to this lawsuit. Make sure not to keep anything from your attorney, since they are your best chance to win this case.
Who Are Peace Officers?
If you are unsure what a peace officer is, you may be surprised that it is not just police officers. Other civil servants also fall into this category. The California penal code very specifically lists which professions are considered peace officers:
· Police officers and traffic police
· EMTs as well as ER personnel (doctors and nurses)
· Service processors
· Animal control
· Search and Rescue members
So, the roster of peace officers is a lot broader than most people assume, which brings with it another concern. If you are accused of assaulting a person who happens to be a peace officer, can you be accused of battery on a peace officer, even if you had no idea they were one?
In Order to Be Accused of Battery on a Peace Officer
There are a few key elements of the crime which need to be ascertained before an assault can be qualified as a battery on a peace officer. First and foremost, the prosecution needs to be able to prove that you have even done what you are accused off – deliberately assaulted or touched a person who happened to be a peace officer. The other thing they need to prove is that the said officer was at that moment active in the line of their duty.
Finally, the last thing they need to be able to prove is that you were aware that the person was a peace officer and that they were engaged in their duties. Typically, wearing a uniform or verbally informing you of that fact are taken as evidence that you knew. If you are charged with P243(c), they will also need to prove that the peace officer needed medical treatment as a direct consequence of your actions.
Defense against the Accusation
Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, your attorney can suggest several options. You can claim that the assault never happened. If that proves impossible, you can fight each and every one of the steps that the prosecution goes through individually, claiming that the assault was an accident, or that you didn’t know that they were a peace officer. If that fails, you can claim that they weren’t in the line of duty. If all else fails, you could try claiming that it was self-defense.
Misdemeanor Battery on a Peace Officer
If you happen to be convicted of this crime, you can get a misdemeanor or a felony punishment. If your crime is not as severe, you are likely looking at a misdemeanor.
If that is the case, you may need to pay a fine up to $2000, as well as a jail sentence of up to one year in a county jail. If you are lucky, you may be eligible for a milder punishment, like informal probation or community service instead of jail time. You may also need to take a class about battery and how to avoid it.
These punishments can be used individually or in conjunction with one another.
Felony Battery on a Peace Officer
On the other hand, if your assault was a bit more serious, you are likely facing some more serious consequences. You may be getting one or more of these: the financial fine of up to $10000, state prison sentence of two or three years. If you qualify for probation, it is going to be a formal one, and you may still need to take a battery class and do some community service.
If you are found guilty of a felony battery on a peace officer, this crime also counts as a strike in the California threestrikes law. Your freedom to purchase and own a gun will likely be suspended. In fact, if the battery included a firearm, this counts as a serious aggravating circumstance and can actually increase your prison sentence to four, six, or even eight years in a state prison.
Battery on a peace officer is a serious crime and if you are facing these charges, you need to take this issue seriously and hire a good legal defender to represent your best interests.