The full language of the statute reads as follows:
243.1. When a battery is committed against the person of a custodial officer as defined in Section 831 of the Penal Code, and the person committing the offense knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a custodial officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties, and the custodial officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, the offense shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
California Penal Code 243.1 PC makes it a felony to commit battery on a custodial officer when the batterer knew – or should have known – that the victim was on duty.
Example: Jessica is visiting her husband in prison. When the custodial officer at the entrance asks to search Jessica’s purse, she gets defensive and punches the guard.
Here, Jessica could be convicted of violating PC 243.1 because she hit the officer and knew the officer was engaged in his job duties.
“Custodial officers” refer to jail and prison guards, and “battery” is the infliction of unlawful physical force such as:
- shoving, or
As a felony, battery on a custodial officer carries a county jail sentence of:
- 16 months,
- 2 years, or
- 3 years.
Note that if the custodial officer suffers serious bodily injury, the county jail term would be
- 2 years,
- 3 years, or
- 4 years.
Note that if the defendant genuinely did not know that the victim was a custodial officer, then prosecutors would likely instead bring misdemeanor charges carrying up to six months in county jail.1
- California Penal Code 243.1 PC – Battery against custodial officer. See, for example, People v. Dooley (Cal. App. 3d Dist. Oct. 18, 2010), 189 Cal. App. 4th 322, 116 Cal. Rptr. 3d 855; People v. Gutierrez (Cal. App. 5th Dist. May 28, 2009), 174 Cal. App. 4th 515, 94 Cal. Rptr. 3d 228. See also PC 243.