The terms assault and battery are often used together and interchangeably by most people, but the two terms have vastly different legal meanings and consequences in the state of California.
Battery is most likely what most people think of when they think of the terms “assault and battery.” Battery refers to an interaction when one person touches another using force or violence. You should be aware that this interaction is not just limited to violent situations because it applies to all non-consensual touching that is done in a harmful of offensive way. This is the most basic definition of battery but the penalties can differ depending on the level of harm or offensiveness or the background of the accused or injured person. Some examples of battery are:
- Hitting with hands or weapon
- Throwing an object at someone
- Pushing another person
Assault refers to when a person is attempting to use violence or force on a person. The best way to clarify what an assault is, is to use the two most common examples:
- Attempting to hit someone and missing
The reasons why assault and battery often go together are because usually an assault will occur first and then a battery. For example, if someone tells another person they will throw a bottle at them then they have committed assault. If they then go on to throw that bottle and actually hit another person then they have committed battery.
If you have been accused of assault and battery in California, you want to meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. Before your trial starts, you want to have someone on your side that will fight to clear your name.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Assault and Battery
A simple assault is a misdemeanor crime that is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months imprisonment.
However, aggravated assault can have much harsher consequences such as up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $10,000. Crimes like aggravated assault are considered “wobbler” crimes because they can be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances.
Some situations where an assault will be upgraded is if it includes the use of a weapon (ex. Waving a gun while making a threat) or attempting a serious crime such as murder. You should be aware that these crimes if they are considered a felony, are counted towards California’s “three-strike” rule.
Battery charges can start with a penalty of a maximum of six months in jail and/or a $2,000 maximum fine. However, if the charge is domestic battery because it involved a domestic violence situation then the maximum imprisonment can go up to one year.
Finally, with both assault and battery the charges are different and more severe if the actions are against a peace officer such as an EMT, police officers and correctional officers. If the charge is a misdemeanor you are looking at a potential maximum fine of $2,000 and/or a maximum of one year in prison. If the charge is a felony, for instance if the officer was seriously injured, then you could be facing up to three years in prison.
Since the laws around assault and battery can be complicated and very situation-specific you want to speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You do not want to lose the chance of having your charges reduced or dismissed by making a statement that hurts you or by going to court on your own.
Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges
Facing charges of committing an assault and battery can be upsetting and life-changing. It is also a situation that is easy for people to inadvertently end up in after drinking too much or being in the wrong social situation at the wrong time. However, a qualified Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you fight these charges. Some of the defenses that your attorney may be able to use are:
- Consent – if the other party consented to the assault or battery then they cannot claim you acted illegally. For example, if you hit someone under the normal course of a sport in an expected way then they have consented to some level of battery.
- Self-Defense – if you only acted to defend yourself or another person then this is a defense to a battery charge.
- Inability to Commit Crime – this works well for assault charges because even if you threaten someone but clearly cannot follow through with that threat, it is not assault. For example, if a person with two broken hands in a cast threatens to choke the person in front of them at that moment, this is not assault because the person with broken hands cannot actually choke anyone.
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Facing criminal charges is a difficult situation for anyone to be in. To protect yourself from further issues you need to speak to a lawyer that can help you better understand the legal conflict you are in. The Simmrin Law Group has numerous qualified lawyers that can help you today. Someone is available 24/7 to talk to about your case. Call today at 310-997-4688 or by filling out the form to your right.