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Battery with Serious Bodily Injury - Aggravated Battery

Battery with serious bodily injury is as it sounds: using force unlawfully that causes serious bodily injury against another person. It is referred to in California as aggravated battery and is found under PC 243(d), which states:

243(d) 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 years.

Elements of Battery with Serious Bodily Injury

The elements of this offense are a willful use of violence that causes serious bodily injury or one serious enough to impair someone’s physical condition. Examples include:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Fractured limb
  • Brain injury
  • Wound requiring sutures
  • Loss of bodily function or cognition
  • Disfigurement

Determining the seriousness of an injury is subjective. A serious laceration that goes untreated and fades without leaving a scar may not be a serious impairment. In this case, you could still be convicted of simple battery, a misdemeanor.

Aggravated battery is also related to domestic violence. If the victim of the assault or battery is a spouse, former spouse, parent of your child, fiancé or former fiancé or anyone with whom you dated or once cohabited, then you could be found guilty of a crime of domestic violence. For non-citizens, a conviction can have serious immigration implications including deportation.


Aggravated battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the seriousness of the injury inflicted, your criminal history or the facts of the case. As a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in county jail and/or a $1,000 fine. You also forfeit your right to own or possess a firearm for 10 years.

If the charge is domestic battery and probation or a stay of sentence is granted, the following conditions will be imposed:

  • Donate up to $5000 to a battered women's shelter
  • Participate in a batterer's treatment program, or alternative program if one is not available, for not less than one year
  • Pay for counseling or therapy undertaken by the victim

If a felony, possible state prison time is 2, 3 or 4 years and/or a fine up to $10,000 along with the above conditions of probation. Any felony conviction results in permanent loss of gun rights.

Should your conviction be for inflicting great bodily injury, then you have earned a strike under California’s Three Strikes law. A second strike will double your sentence to 4, 6 or 8 years in prison. A third strike is 25 years to life as a minimum.

Defenses to Aggravated Battery

  • Non-serious injury

If the injury was minor or was treated effectively in a short time with no residual effect, then you could argue no physical impairment and no great bodily injury resulted.

  • Accident

Sometimes serious injuries result from an accident with the accused lacking any intent to harm anyone. If you backed up your car into a pedestrian, it would not be aggravated battery.

  • Self-defense

If you were attacked, you have the right to protect yourself but you cannot use unreasonable force. You must stop your counterattack once the attacker has fled or has stopped the initial attack and you are no longer in danger. You also must not have started the attack or confrontation. For example, if the attacker punched you, you cannot use a knife to stab him or her.

Retain a California Criminal Defense Attorney

Aggravated battery is a serious crime, regardless if it is charged as a misdemeanor or felony, especially if you have alien immigration status. If serious bodily injury results, a felony conviction can have serious repercussions on your ability to find work, to rent, enroll in school, obtain a professional license and other consequences. Retain a California criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with this or any other criminal offense.