Battery causing serious bodily injury under Penal Code Section 243(d) is defined in the following manner.
When a battery is committed against any person and serious bodily injury is inflicted on the person, the battery is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, three, or four years1.
Below our criminal defense attorneys explain the law for PC 243(d).
- What is Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury?
- What Evidence Does A Prosecutor Use To Prove The Crime
- Witness Testimony That Could Prove Harmful
- How Does A Prosecutor Prove It Was A Serious Bodily Injury?
- Defenses To Aggravated Battery
- Penalties For PC 243(d)
- Sentencing Enhancements
- Examples Of Great Bodily Injury
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Resources On What To Expect During The Court Process
- Next Steps If You Need Help
What is Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury?
In California, a battery causing serious bodily injury is also referred to as an aggravated battery.
The elements of penal code 243(d) pc are as follows:
- You touched someone intentionally or willfully2, in a harmful or offensive manner.
- It caused serious bodily injury3 as a result of the force used.
What Is Considered Touching?
To be convicted of aggravated battery, you need to have touched someone or made some kind of contact with them.
It could be in the slightest manner by finger or hand or by using an object like a pole or handbag that is considered an extension of yourself.
Definition of Intentional or Willful
The contact has to be willful and with the intent to touch another person in a harmful or offensive manner4.
You also may not have intended to injure the other person at all. But, if your intentional contact, however slight, did lead to a serious injury, then you may have committed this offense.
If you unintentionally touched or made contact with someone, then no battery5 has occurred.
What is a Harmful or Offensive Manner?
The contact made must have been harmful or offensive. Harmful contact can be a hard push or shove as well as a punch.
To be offensive contact, the touching must have been unwanted and done in a manner that was:
If you were being playful or affectionate and pushed or hugged someone but caused an injury, you should not be found guilty of penal code 243(d) battery causing serious bodily injury since your contact was not angry, violent or disrespectful.
What is a Serious Bodily Injury?
A serious injury is defined as a “serious impairment of a physical condition.”
This can include but is not limited to the following:
- Loss of consciousness
- Fracture of a bone if it leads to serious impairment of a physical condition (walking or use of hand)
- Serious disfigurement
- Protracted loss or impairment of any function of a bodily member or organ
- A wound requiring extensive sutures6
The injury need not require medical attention to be considered “serious.”7
This list is not all-inclusive, and the determination of whether an injury is a “serious bodily injury” is a question for the jury to decide in each individual case.
What if Someone Just Got a Bruise in a Fight is That Serious?
There is no bright line rule to determine what is “serious”. There is case law that has found a bruise to be a serious bodily injury, meeting the requirements under the Code.
It’s important to consult an attorney because a conviction of battery causing serious bodily injury carries a prison sentence.
What Evidence Does A Prosecutor Use To Prove a Violation of Penal Code 243(d) pc
In proving each element of Penal Code 243(d), the prosecutor may provide evidence in the form of eyewitness testimony to prove:
- Touching, or
- Making contact with someone in an offensive manner.
There is testimony from the victim and possibly a neutral witness who observed the defendant making contact with the victim.
Proving The Contact Was Intentional
The victim or third party witness can describe the contact as a hard push or shove if not a punch. The contact could also be from a
- Firearm. or
- other object that was wielded by the defendant in a threatening manner.
The defendant could also be described as looking straight at the victim before the contact was made or that he/she made a threatening comment before contact.
Witness Testimony That Could Prove Harmful
A witness could describe the defendant as being angry or shouting just before the contact was made or was laughing in a mocking way before violently brushing against the victim.
How Does A Prosecutor Prove It Was A Serious Bodily Injury?
The prosecutor will also likely need to offer medical evidence from doctors or medical reports that the injury was serious as defined by the law.
Again, this is a factual determination that in similar cases could lead to different interpretations for the same or similar injury.
A fracture of a bone in your hand might be considered minor since it did not affect you in a substantial way and you were still able to work or perform your usual daily activities.
The identical injury on another person could result in that person being unable to perform his work. In this case, a jury could conclude the injury was serious.
Defenses To Aggravated Battery
There are a several defenses to aggravated battery which may be relevant depending upon the specific circumstances of each case.
The main defense to an aggravated battery is self-defense.
This is an affirmative defense, meaning that the defendant must raise and prove the defense so that a jury would deem the defendant’s actions as reasonable under the factual circumstances.
How Do I Prove I Acted In Self Defense?
You no longer have to retreat once the danger has passed and may even pursue the attacker until the danger of bodily injury has passed.
You cannot be convicted of penal code 243(d) if the touching was unintended or accidental.
If you were making your way through a crowded room or street and accidentally bumped someone who fell and hit their head, there is no battery.
If You Intended to Hit Someone Else is this Considered an Accident?
If you intended to hit someone with a pipe or other object but missed them and hit someone else, then this is not considered an accident.
Your intent to strike someone else in a harmful or offensive manner is transferred to the person you actually struck even if you had no intent to hit that individual.
What if I Was Drunk?
If you were intoxicated and stumbled and bumped into someone who fell and broke a leg, there is no intent to contact someone.
However, you could face charges of disorderly conduct or being drunk in public.
The Injury Was Not Serious
Whether an injury is serious so as to warrant a charge of aggravated battery is largely subjective in many cases. Even a broken bone is not necessarily a serious injury if it is not a serious impairment of a physical condition.
A fracture of a bone that does not require a cast or does not interfere with the following may not arise to the level of “serious injury.”
- person’s mobility,
- ability to work,
- drive or perform other household tasks
While it is not required for an injury to be considered “serious” that the victim seek and receive medical treatment, the fact that medical treatment was received does not automatically render the injury “serious” either.
Some victims may exaggerate their symptoms that a medical report or testimony from the treating physician can corroborate or show that the victim was alleging symptoms that were inconsistent with the injury.
If your defense attorney has such evidence, then the prosecutor might be persuaded to reduce the charges to simple battery or assault, a misdemeanor.
Penalties For PC 243(d)
If a prosecutor feels the evidence is sufficient to charge you with aggravated battery, he or she can still charge the offense as a misdemeanor, since this is a “wobbler” offense.
If a prosecutor feels the evidence is sufficient to charge you with aggravated battery, he or she can still charge the offense as a misdemeanor, since this is a “wobbler”offense.
If this is your first offense and the injury is borderline serious, then depending on the assessment of the filing deputy you may be charged with a misdemeanor.
But if you caused someone extensive injuries regardless of your criminal history or past, you are likely to be charged with a felony.
|Fine||Not to exceed $1,000||Not to exceed $10,0000|
|Probation||Summary or information probation||Formal Probation (restrictive conditions imposed)|
|County Jail||Max of 1 year||2,3 or 4 years|
Sentencing Enhancements For Penal Code 243(d) pc
If you caused someone to suffer a serious bodily injury, it may or may not rise to the level of “great bodily injury.” This is defined as a significant or substantial physical injury.
If the prosecutor feels that the injury constitutes “great bodily injury,”8 and the trier-of-fact agrees, then you face an additional 3 to 6 years in prison that is to be served consecutively and not concurrently.
Your maximum sentence could be as much as 10 years.
Is This Considered a Strike Under California’s Three Strikes Law?
If you did cause a GBI, this also constitutes a “strike” under California’s three-strikes law.
Are There Penalty Enhancements Based on The Age Of The Victim?
A judge will also consider enhancing your sentence if the victim was at least 70 years of age or under 5 years of age and the injury was severe.
Additional Penalty Enhancement for Domestic Battery or Sex Offense
If the underlying offense was domestic battery or a sex offense, you face possible enhancement of up to 6 years.
Examples Of Great Bodily Injury
For an injury to rise to the level of “great bodily injury” or GBI. A prosecutor as well as the trier-of-fact will look at these factors:
- Severity of the injury
- Degree of pain
- Extent and nature of medical care
In other words, the injury has to be more severe than the type of injury that would normally result from the underlying offense.
Examples of what constitutes great bodily injury include:
Frequently Asked Questions
Resources On What To Expect During The Court Process
The following links have information on the criminal court process:
- Being Released On Your Recognizance After An Arrest
- How A Case Gets Filed
- Step 1 In A Criminal Case – The Arraignment
- How To Conduct Yourself In Court
- The Plea Bargain Process Between Prosecution & Defense Attorney
- Preliminary Hearing (Felonies)
- Criminal Trials – A Step By Step Overview
Next Steps If You Need Help
If you have been arrested and would like to learn more about how attorneys charge.
If you want to understand why its important to have an attorney represent you.
If you would like to discuss a pending case with an attorney contact the Aizman Law Firm at 818-351-9555 for a free confidential consultation.
Request A Free Consultation
- California Penal Code Section 243(d).
- California Penal Code § 7(1) The word “willfully,” when applied to the intent with which an act is done or omitted, implies simply a purpose or willingness to commit the act, or make the omission referred to. It does not require any intent to violate law, or to injure another, or to acquire any advantage,. People v. Lara(1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102, 107 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402],
- California Penal Code 243(f)(4) – “Serious bodily injury” means a serious impairment of physical condition, including, but not limited to, the following: loss of consciousness; concussion; bone fracture; protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ; a wound requiring extensive suturing; and serious disfigurement, available at
- People v. Martinez (1970) 3Cal.App.3d 886, 889 [83 Cal.Rptr. 914] [harmful or offensive touching]
- A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.
- CALCRIM 925 [Definition of serious bodily injury] A serious bodily injury means a serious impairment of physical condition. Such an injury may include[, but is not limited to]: (loss of consciousness/ concussion/ bone fracture/ protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ/ a wound requiring extensive.
- Medical Treatment is Not an Element. People v. Wade (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 1142, 1148–1150 [139 Cal.Rptr.3d 529],
- Penal Code 12022.7 PC – (a) Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person other than an accomplice in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for three years. (b) Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person other than an accomplice in the commission of a felony or attempted felony which causes the victim to become comatose due to brain injury or to suffer paralysis of a permanent nature shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for five years. As used in this subdivision, “paralysis” means a major or complete loss of motor function resulting from injury to the nervous system or to a muscular mechanism. (c) Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on a person who is 70 years of age or older, other than an accomplice, in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for five years. (d) Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on a child under the age of five years in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for four, five, or six years.(e) Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury under circumstances involving domestic violence in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or five years. As used in this subdivision, “domestic violence” has the meaning provided in subdivision (b) of Section 13700. (f) As used in this section, “great bodily injury” means a significant or substantial physical injury. (g) This section shall not apply to murder or manslaughter or a violation of Section 451 or 452. Subdivisions (a), (b), (c), and (d) shall not apply if infliction of great bodily injury is an element of the offense. (h) The court shall impose the additional terms of imprisonment under either subdivision (a), (b), (c), or (d), but may not impose more than one of those terms for the same offense.
- California Penal Code 245(c) PC
- California Penal Code 245(d) PC