In California, assault and battery hold nearly the same punishments, but they are distinct crimes that add to one another. On the one hand, assault is the attempt to cause an injury to another person; it does require physical contact, and it can be charged as a wobbler. On the contrary, a battery is charged when there is physical contact. Consequently, a battery could be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. The difference in charges will depend on the situation. Often, an assault and battery case becomes more serious when firearms are present or there is intent to cause great bodily injury. Evidently, if you are charged with an assault and/or battery, you may want to consult with a local attorney. In California, both crimes are a serious offense which is why you may consider working with an expert that understands the laws and courtroom procedures. Knowing the difference between battery and assault can allow you to make a sound decision in choosing the attorney that is right for you.

If you are in the state of California, there are certain acts that can warrant assault charges. In fact, you could be charged with either simple or aggravated assault. Under California Penal Code 240, a simple assault is when someone attempts to cause bodily harm, injury, or fear to another person. Individuals may face aggravated assault charges if their acts could have caused great bodily harm and if their acts demonstrate extreme recklessness and disregard for human life.

For instance, Peter is upset while at a bar after his favorite team lost a match. Peter is drunk and engages in a verbal argument, releasing all his anger towards the bartender. Peter chucks his drink at the bartender, but the bartender squats and avoids being hit. In this case, Peter attempted to cause physical harm to another person. Under California criminal law, the act of throwing something at someone to inflict harm can be charged as an assault misdemeanor (simple assault). On the other, if Peter was a good shot and he hit the bartender with the object, he would face battery misdemeanor charges (assuming the impact of the hit did not cause graves injuries).

Under California Penal Code 242, a battery can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. PC 242 explains that it is a battery when a person willingly and knowingly inflicts physical damage to a person to cause injury. A battery misdemeanor becomes a felony when a person commits an unlawful act that causes grave physical injury. In addition, a battery may also be charged as a felony if the act was directed towards a government official.

Assault and battery cases require the attention of an attorney. If you are charged under PC242 or PC240, you may face fines in the thousands and jail time of up to ten years. To learn the different types of punishments that may apply to your case, you are encouraged to read on. However, speaking with an attorney may be the best option to help you understand how the factors in your case will play out in a trial. To contact a local California attorney, you may contact the San Diego Criminal Attorney at 619-880-5474.

An experienced attorney can help combat an assault or battery charge. In many cases, if you put your hands on another person, you may want to speak with an attorney to ensure that you do not get charged with more than is warranted. Furthermore, an assault claim can be contested especially if you did not act with intention. For instance, if you bump into someone and they believe you intended to hurt them, they may take you to court. However, they will have to prove that you acted with intent. If you are charged with a crime that you did not commit and you want to learn how you may challenge the evidence you should consult with a law professional.

Assault In California

In California an assault crime becomes a wobbler whenever weapons are involved or whenever the assault would have resulted in the death of another person. To be charged with an assault misdemeanor, a simple assault, the prosecuting party would need to prove the following or show proof of the following actions:

  • The guilty party acted willingly. This means that the party acted on their own will; therefore, the guilty party was not forced to commit the act and was aware of their intention to cause harm.
  • The act was done so to cause harm, injury, or offense and would result in the use of force. The use of force can be any form of touching that would either cause harm or offense.
  • The guilty party had the will and ability to commit the crime

Ex: Jim spits at a person, but misses. Spitting is a rude and offensive manner that can be treated as an assault. Furthermoreif the spit hits the person, it may warrant a battery misdemeanor.

Ex: Jim sees an old bully and out of anger runs towards him and swings a punch in his direction. The former bully dodges the punch and reacts by beating Jim to the ground. In this case, Jim will probably be pursued for assault charges while Jim’s bully is free to go as he acted in self-defense.

Ex: Jim is in an argument with his neighbor, in the heat of the moment Jim pulls out a gun and starts waving it around. Jim can face assault with a firearm charges. On the other hand, if Jim is waiving around a deadly weapon such as a machine gun he could be charged with aggravated assault (felony). In fact, under California Penal Code 245, an individual that commits an assault with a machine gun could be charged with a felony and charged with jail time between 4 to 12 years..

When some of these acts are done so without intent to cause physical harm, then the defendant has the ability to defend themselves against the charges. As you can see from above, the crime of assault does not require physical contact.  Acts that can appear offensive, but were not intentional can be misinterpreted and they may be pursued by individuals in a court. For these reasons, to ensure that the facts of your case are fairly represented, you are advised to seek legal attention before entering a courtroom.

Aggravated Assault

When weapons and certain unlawful actions are part of an assault case, the aggressor can be convicted of aggravated assault. Pointing a weapon at someone even while drunk can be charged with an aggravated assault which is a felony. Individuals that intent to inflict serious physical damage to another person could be charged with ‘aggravated assault’ a felony  . Shooting towards your neighbor while waving a gun around may also be charged with a felony as the outcome could result in death.

Assault On A Public Official

Assault towards a public official is a crime that can be treated with a felony or a misdemeanor (otherwise known as a wobbler) under Penal Code 217.1. Additionally, you can face felony charges for assaulting a public official with a weapon under Penal Code 217.1.

Penalties For Simple Assault

Under California Penal Code 241, an individual that commits a simple assault can be punished with up to six months behind bars and a fine of up to one-thousand dollars. When it is directed towards a parking control officer or any other public servant, the fine increases to up to $2000 and jail time can increase to up to a year. However, if the assault causes bodily injury or the individual assaulted a public servant with a weapon, firearm, semi-automatic, or machine gun, then the fines can reach up to $10,000 and prison terms can increase to twelve years. In general, an assault increases in penalties whenever the case involves weapons or peace officers like the police.

Under this law a person that is a public official is any of the following:

  • Peace officer: Police officer while on duty
  • Highway workers performing their duties on U.S highways: construction contractor employed by the state, county, city or local agency to perform duties on the highway, and the employees of the contractor
  • Lifeguards employed by the state, county, city or local agency
  • A person employed by a school district including teachers, principals, and administrators.
  • Anyone performing their duties in court
  • Firefighter
  • Traffic officer
  • A member of the United States Armed Forces

Penalties For Aggravated Assault

Any assault that is carried out with a weapon and with intent to cause serious harm can be treated as a felony assault, otherwise known as, aggravated assault. Under California Penal Code 245 (a), a crime involving a machine gun can be charged with a felony, with 12 years in prison, and fines of up to$10,000.  Under California Penal Code 245 (b), a person that carries out an assault with a semi-automatic weapon could face between 3, 6, or 9 years behind bars. Aggravated assault is a felony that can be charged whenever the incident is more serious and when weapons or substances that can cause severe damages are present.

Defense Against Assault

Defending against charges of assault requires the attention of an attorney who can represent your case in court. Under the law you are guilty until proven guilty which means you want to consider legal defense to prevent a wrong conviction.

You may have good ground to defend your case if the following applies to you:

  • You were falsely accused
  • Your actions were not intentional
  • Your actions could not have been carried out; there was something or someone that prevent the action from creating harm.
  • You were defending yourself

If the above applies to your case, you may have enough reason to contest an assault charge. When you know there are other factors that played into your account, it is best to discuss your situation with a criminal law professional. In court trial, the facts of your case must be represented in order to prevent a wrongful conviction.

Types Of Battery

A battery is a successful assault. When individuals carry out their actions and inflict physical damage to another, they could face battery misdemeanor charges. A battery has almost the same penalties as those underlined above for assault. In addition, it may either be charged with a misdemeanor when the crime is simple or a felony for more serious crimes.   

To charge someone with battery under California Penal Code 242, the following must be true:

  • The individual acted willingly
  • The individual physically touched another to cause physical harm (or used an object to cause harm)

Ex: If you hit someone in the head with a bat you can face aggravated assault charges. and even harsher penalties if your actions caused grave injuries. For instance, if you hit a person in the head and they develop a serious health injury, you may face felony charges.

Battery Charges

A battery can be charged as a misdemeanor when the act did not cause serious injuries but inflicted physical damages. For example, if Dave punishes Dan after an argument, Dan may pursue charges against Dave for inflicting unwarranted physical damage. In addition, if Dave were to spit at Dan, Dan may pursue charges against Dave for battery. According to the law, the force does not need to have been great so long as it causes some form of offense. A simple battery can warrant a fine of up to $2000 and up to six months in jail.

A battery can be charged with a felony whenever the actions cause injury or wounds. In most cases, so long as there was slight contact, an individual could face battery charges. However, if the person excreted a great amount of force, enough to break a bone or cause great bodily injuries, then he or she could be charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor. In addition, a felony battery is warranted whenever a public official is involved.

If you are facing assault and battery charges, you are encouraged to speak with a local criminal law attorney. You may reach the San Diego Criminal Attorney at 619-880-5474.