Defending Against Assault Charges in California

Assault is one of the oldest crimes in the book. Often, as is evidenced by film and television, it is linked to the crime of battery. While it is true that is it possible to be charged with “assault and battery,” it is possible to be charged with one crime, but not the other. One thing is true with regard to conviction for either crime in the state of California – you will face serious consequences. As such, you need to rely on the skill of an experienced California criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney will fight to protect your legal rights, invoke any legitimate defenses (e.g. self-defense), and explore all avenues of reasonable doubt in challenging the state prosecutor’s efforts to convict you.

Distinguishing Assault from Battery

Sometimes the difference between assault and battery is simply the difference between a swing and a miss and a swing and a hit. In other words, the outcome of the swing matters. The swing is the attempt, and it is the crucial element of assault. Under California Penal Code 240, assault is an attempt to use force or violence on another person. So, even if you attempt to throw a punch or a swing baseball bat at another person and fail to make contact with them, you may be properly charged with assault for merely making the attempt to use force or violence on them.  

If, on the other hand, your attempt to land a punch or bat swing against another person is successful in making contact with them, you may be properly charged with battery for the actual use of force or violence. So then, battery is about actual force or violence – something more serious than a mere attempt. It does not take something as violent as a punch or swing of the bat to commit battery – any harmful or offensive touching will do. However, as it stands to reason, the more injurious the contact, the more serious the crime. Accordingly, a battery resulting in serious bodily injury will be classified as a felony and punished with stricter penalties.

Battery is Punishable by Fines and Jail Time

Even misdemeanor battery is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and six months of jail time.  However, these punishments will increase if the battery caused serious bodily injury. Examples of serious bodily injury include a broken bone or concussion. Enhanced penalties are also justified when a battery is committed against a police officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, or other public servant.

What to Do if You Have Been Charged With Assault or Battery in California

If you have been charged with assault or battery in California, contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney.  A skilled attorney will fully explore any defenses available to you.  For example, a common defense to either charge is that of self-defense – whether of yourself or another else you reasonably believed to be in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or being touched unlawfully.