California “Aggravated Battery” Laws | Penal Code 243(d) PC

In California, battery causing serious bodily harm is charged under penal code 243(d) pc.[1] The crime is more severe than a simple battery because of the level of injury the alleged victim receives. It is a wobbler, which allows the prosecutor to file either a felony or misdemeanor charge. The decision whether to seek misdemeanor or felony charges is usually dependent on a defendant’s prior criminal history and the extent of the alleged victim’s injuries.

Serious bodily injury occurs when there is a serious impairment of someone’s physical condition. It is a matter of interpretation, but it may include any one of the following:

  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Concussion
  • Bone Fracture
  • Impairment of any Member or Organ
  • Wound requiring extensive suturing
  • Serious disfigurement

Sometimes there are mutual combat situations where neither party is desirous of prosecution. However, the prosecution ultimately makes the charging decisions regardless of a party’s wishes. Accordingly, just because someone has no interest in pressing charges does not mean the case goes away.

What Are The Elements Of Penal Code 243(d) PC?

Under CALCRIM 925, in order to be found guilty of PC 243(d), the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant willfully and unlawfully touched another in a harmful or offensive manner;
  1. The use of force caused serious bodily injury;
  1. Defendant was not acting in self-defense or reasonably disciplining a child.[2]

What Is The Punishment For Aggravated Battery?

Even for a first-time offender, penal code 243(d) is punishable as a misdemeanor by up to 1 year in the county jail, whereas a felony conviction carries 2, 3, or 4 years in county jail. Other conviction consequences may include:

  • Payment of restitution for the alleged victim’s economic loss – e.g., hospital bills, etc.
  • Adverse immigration consequences for non-U.S. citizens
  • Denial of an occupational or professional license
  • A felony conviction carries a lifetime ban on possessing or owning a firearm
  • Court criminal protective order barring all contact with your accuser

Great Bodily Injury Sentencing Enhancement

You could face additional sentencing consequences if the alleged victim suffers great bodily injury. Great bodily injury is different than serious bodily injury because it is a higher standard of injury. Great bodily injury occurs when your accuser suffers significant or substantial physical injury.

If the great bodily injury enhancement is proven by the prosecutor, you could face an additional 3 to 6 years in state prison. Furthermore, the offense would be elevated to a violent felony applicable to California’s Three Strike laws.

What Are The Legal Defenses To Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury?


You may act in self-defense to prevent unreasonable risk of injury to yourself or another. It is applicable regardless of the alleged victim’s sex or size. Furthermore, there is no requirement that you retreat when faced with a threat of force, and you can freely stand your ground to defend yourself or another from harm.

Reasonable Discipline

The law allows a parent to discipline a child by imposing reasonable punishment. For instance, a parent may spank a child who has misbehaved without being criminally liable so long as the spanking is reasonable. Thus, the degree of striking a child can be part of someone’s lawful parental authority.


Violent criminal offenses require you to act with a specific purpose. Moreover, the law holds that if a person causes injury or damages based on an accident or through misfortune, then no crime was committed.

Injury Level

The level of injury may be a matter of interpretation to argue. This is applicable when the alleged victim suffers borderline injuries that may not be severe or rise to the level of being “serious.” Moreover, your accuser may have suffered only minor or moderate harm.

What Are Examples Of Aggravated Battery?

  • Dan was arguing with his roommate over unpaid rent. Dan pushed his roommate back causing his roommate to slip and strike his head on the kitchen counter. His roommate suffered a head injury that required staples. Here, Dan would be charged with aggravated battery causing serious bodily injury under PC 243(d). Although Dan did not directly cause his roommate’s injury, the injury was the natural and probable consequence of Dan’s willful act.
  • Bob was in a bar arguing with another patron. Bob punched the patron in the face. When police arrived, the patron said he was suffering from a headache. Bob was arrested for aggravated battery. Here, the patron’s injury might not be sufficient for aggravated battery charges because the level of injury was only minor. However, if it can be determined that the patron’s headache was actually a concussion, then Bob can be charged with aggravated battery.

What Are The Related Offenses?

Contact Us To Schedule A Risk-Free Consultation

If you have been charged or are under investigation for penal code 243(d) pc, then contact our office today to schedule a risk-free confidential consultation. Let an experienced and reputable Newport Beach criminal defense attorney. Early intervention by a reputable defense lawyer can mean the difference between receiving a state prison sentence or having your case rejected entirely from prosecution.

Attorney John D. Rogers is a board-certified criminal law specialist. This is a prestigious distinction that less than 2% of California criminal defense lawyers have achieved. He has unmatched success in defending his clients in all types of violent crime cases, especially when his clients are faced with a “must-win” dilemma. He focuses his representation to dismiss charges or obtain an acquittal at trial. Contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers today to schedule your consultation.


[1] Penal Code 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.”

[2] See CALCRIM No. 925.

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