Battery On A Peace/Police Officer Laws “Explained”

In this guide, I will explain penal codes 243(b) & 243(c)(2) pc which is a battery on a police officer.

  • Penal Code 243(b) is a misdemeanor battery on a peace officer.
  • Penal Code 243(c)(2) is a felony battery on a peace officer.

Let’s get started…

California Penal Code section 243(c)(2), “battery on a peace officer” applies to the specific situation where the application of force or violence is directed towards a peace officer.

Therefore, to be charged with this offense, the defendant had to know or reasonably should have known that the victim is a peace/police officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties. 1.

What Is The Difference Between Simple Battery &. Aggravated Battery?

There are two (2) types of battery:

  1. “Simple battery” (battery which results in either no injury or slight injury) which is filed as a misdemeanor battery, and
  2. “Aggravated battery” (battery which results in a more serious injury, or the battery is committed against certain “protected persons,” such as peace officers, or firefighters) which may be filed as a misdemeanor or felony.

In other words, even when the battery is committed against protected persons, if it results in no injury or a slight injury, it will be filed as an aggravated battery misdemeanor but with an increased maximum sentence. 2.

Example of an Aggravated Battery That Would Be Charged As A Misdemeanor:

Spitting on a police officer would be charged as a misdemeanor battery on a peace officer3.

Example of an Aggravated Battery That Would Be Charged As A Felony:

While the defendant was about to be handcuffed, he punched the police officer knocking him back and inflicting an injury (California Penal Code 243(c)(2) pc.)).

In this case, the defendant will be charged with aggravated battery, because the battery was against a peace officer during the performance of his lawful duties, and the battery resulted in a serious physical injury.

What is The Difference Between Battery On A Police Officer & Resisting Arrest?

Both resisting arrest and battery on a police officer are often charged together. However in our previous example where the defendant spit on the police officer but did not resist arrest would be an example of being charged with 243(b) pc battery on a peace officer but not resisting arrest.

How Does The Prosecutor Prove Battery on a Peace Officer?

To prove that the defendant is guilty of “battery on a peace officer” under Pen. Code §243(c)(2) or 243(b), the prosecution must prove the following facts or elements:

  • The victim was a peace officer performing the duties of a peace offıcer4
  • When the defendant acted, he/she knew, or reasonably should have known5 that the victim was a peace officer who was performing his/her duties6.
  • The defendant willfully and unlawfully7; used force or violence8.

Note: The touching does not have to cause pain or injury of any kind.

The touching can be done indirectly by causing an object or someone else to touch the other person9.

What Would Make This Crime A Felony Charge?

  • The peace officer sustained an injury10.

Defenses to Battery on a Peace Officer

There are various defenses that can be asserted on your behalf to fight a charge of battery on a peace officer including the following:

Self-Defense/Defense of Others:

If the defendant acted in self-defense or defense of others, he/she has a valid defense if charged for battery on a peace officer.

To assert this defense, the defendant has to have a reasonable belief that he/she or another person is likely to be physically harmed and is justified in using force that is proportionate to the threatened force to repel the attack.

The Peace Officer Was Not Performing Lawful Duties:

If the officer is trying to effect an “unlawful arrest” or “detention,” or if he/she applied “excessive force” against the defendant, the defendant is justified to act in self-defense as long as the defendant uses force that is proportionate to the threatened force to repel the attack11.


This accident defense applies in a situation when the defendant does not willfully inflict force or injury onto a peace officer. 

Examples of Accident Defense

  • Causing a car accident that involves a police car.
  • Accidentally tripping or shoving a police officer in a crowd of people. 

False Allegations:

If you were falsely accused of committing battery on a peace officer, you need a good attorney who can find any inconsistencies in the evidence to show that you were not the perpetrator of the crime.

What Are The Penalties, Punishment And Sentencing Guidelines For Battery on Peace Officer?

This offense is a wobbler which means it could be filed either as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the injury to the peace officer.

Penalty For 243(b) PC Misdemeanor Battery On A Police Officer:

A simple battery on a peace officer that does not result in a serious injury will be filed as a misdemeanor offense and is punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,000, or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, or two or three years, or by both that fine and imprisonment12.

Penalty For 243(c)(2) PC, Felony Battery On A Police Officer:

A battery that results in an injury to a peace officer will be filed as a felony and is punished more severely by imprisonment of up to 16 months, 2 or 3 years in state prison, or for 2, 3, or 4 years if the officer sustains a serious bodily injury, or by a penalty fee of up to $10,000 fine, or by both imprisonment and fee.

Related Offenses and Additional Penalties

Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury (“Aggravated Battery”):

Under California Penal Code 243(d) – Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury, applies when a battery is committed against any person and serious bodily injury is inflicted on the person.  Such 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 years. 13.)

Assault With a Deadly Weapon (“Aggravated Battery”):

California Penal Code 245(a)(1) provides that anyone who commits an assault upon another person with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm, will be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for up to one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars $10,000, or by both the fine and imprisonment. 14

California “Three Strikes” Law:

If a defendant commits an “aggravated felony” by either inflicting serious bodily injury or assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer pursuant to Pen. Code, sections §243(d) or 245(a)(1), the conviction(s) for the offense will result in a strike on the defendant’s record.

Choosing An Attorney

If would like to speak to an attorney to discuss a potential charge of battery on a peace officer, you can contact the Aizman law firm at 818-351-9555 for a free confidential consultation.

Request A Free Consultation 818-351-9555 


  1. Penal Code Section 243(c)(2 []
  2. Penal Code Section 243(c)(2 []
  3. Penal Code 243(b) PC. []
  4. A “peace officer” is anyone who is engaged in the duty of law enforcement, including but not limited to the following persons: CHP officer (California Highway Patrol), police officer, sheriff, marshal or deputy marshal of a superior court or county, port warden or port police officer, any inspector or investigator employed in such capacity in the office of a district attorney.  Penal Code, § 830 et seq. []
  5. Whether you knew or should have known that you are dealing with a peace officer turns on several factors, such as whether the officer was: in uniform; engaged in acts that are typically performed by peace officers, such as performing a lawful arrest by placing you or someone else in handcuffs; or driving in a marked police car.  Penal Code Sections 243(c)(2). []
  6. “Performance of duty” in this context means that the peace officer is making or attempting to make a lawful arrest;  accepting or exercising custody over a person who has been arrested by a private citizen; lawfully detaining or attempting to detain a person for questioning or investigation; using reasonable force to effect a lawful arrest or detention.  Penal Code Section 243(c)(2). []
  7. Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.  It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.  Willful Defined. Pen. Code, § 7(1); People v. Lara (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102, 107 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402]. []
  8. The slightest touching can be enough to commit a battery if it is done in a rude or angry way.  Least Touching.  People v. Myers (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 328, 335 [71 Cal.Rptr.2d 518] [citing People v. Rocha (1971) 3 Cal.3d 893, 899–900, fn. 12 [92 Cal.Rptr. 172, 479 P.2d 372]]. []
  9. Elements. Penal Code Sections 242, 243(a); see People v. Martinez (1970) 3 Cal.App.3d 886, 889 [83 Cal.Rptr. 914] [harmful or offensive touching] []
  10. Physical Injury Defined. California Penal Code Section 243(f)(5); People v. Longoria (1995) 34 Cal.App.4th 12, 17–18 [40 Cal.Rptr.2d 213; CALCRIM No. 945. []
  11. A peace officer is not lawfully performing his/her duties if he/she is unlawfully arresting or detaining someone or using unreasonable or excessive force in his/her duties.  If a defendant is charged with violating section 243(c)(2) and the arrest is found to be unlawful, a defendant cannot be convicted of that section. People v. White (1980) 101 Cal.App.3d 161, 166 [161 Cal.Rptr. 541].  An “unlawful arrest” includes both an arrest made without legal grounds and an arrest made with excessive force.  People v. Gonzalez (1990) 51 Cal.3d 1179, 1217 [275 Cal. Rptr. 729, 800 P.2d 1159]. []
  12. California Penal Code Section 243(c)(2); When the battery specified in paragraph (1) is committed against a peace officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties, whether on or off duty, including when the peace officer is in a police uniform and is concurrently performing the duties required of him or her as a peace officer while also employed in a private capacity as a part-time or casual private security guard or patrolman and the person committing the offense knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties, the battery is punishable by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, or two or three years, or by both that fine and imprisonment. []
  13. Penal Code Section 243(d []
  14. Penal Code Section 245(a)(1). []

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