In the state of California, assault and battery offenses commonly occur every day. These two types of criminal offenses are often confused with one another. Even though they may seem similar in action and in nature, they do differ greatly in their definition. More than this, these two criminal offenses may differ in the types of penalties they may lead to if convicted. Simply put, assault can be thought of as attempting to seriously injure another individual. On the other hand, a battery is an actual act of seriously injuring another individual. Despite their differences, both are considered to be serious crimes in the state of California, and you may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. These types of offenses can arise out many different situations and it is important to know what they entail.
If you, or someone you know, are currently dealing with either an assault or battery charge in the Santa Ana area, then you may need help. Darwish Law can assist you in cases involving assault and battery by providing professional criminal defense attorneys to plan and execute your defense. With our expertise in the criminal law field, we can help you by reviewing your case and discussing your available options. Assault and battery charges can lead to severe punishments and can have a lasting impact on your future.
What are the Differences Between an Assault and a Battery Offense?
Assault and battery are common types of criminal offenses that many people may hear about on a daily basis. Most people often believe the two types of offenses are the same; however, this is far from the truth. Assault and battery each describe specific types of actions committed by an individual. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be charged with one offense over the other. Also, in California, each type of offense can be described under its respective Penal Code Section.
Under Penal Code § 240, assault is defined as the unlawful attempt, and the ability, to commit a violent injury upon another individual. With this definition, there does not have to be any physical injury on the victim in order to be considered assault.
- While at a sports bar, Matt gets into a verbal altercation with a stranger. Things get physical when Matt swings his arm to punch the stranger; however, he misses.
The above example is still considered to be assault because it displays an attempt at physically injuring another individual with violent force. This is still a criminal act in the state of California. Another way to think of assault is as an attempted battery.
Under Penal Code § 242, a battery is defined as the willful and unlawful use of violent physical force upon another individual. Battery is defined under penal code section 242 as the willful and unlawful touching of another person without their consent. In contrast with assault, a battery is thought of as the actual physical use of violence against another person. This sort of offense may arise even in situations in which you touch another individual in a way that is offensive. Any action that is rude, violent, disrespectful, or angry may be understood as offensive.
- While shopping at the local supermarket, Simone gets frustrated with an employee and pushes him.
Even though the above action does seem minor and does not result in a serious injury, it can still be considered battery. Simone has used physical force against another person that can be read as offensive.
For these offenses, there are certain elements described in the law that need to be proven in order to be convicted of the crime. For both assault and battery cases, this can include willful intent to use force against another individual and acting in a harmful or offensive manner. Lastly, for battery cases, you must have inflicted actual physical force upon another person’s body. If these elements are not proven, you may not be charged.
Assault and Battery Penalties
Due to the differences between an assault and a battery offense, each type of criminal offense may lead to different consequences and penalties if convicted of the crime. Under California’s Penal Code, each crime comes with its own set of penalties. An assault offense may only lead to a misdemeanor, while a battery offense may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California.
An assault offense may only lead to a misdemeanor charge in California. As described under Penal Code § 241, the possible penalties and punishments include:
- Misdemeanor probation;
- Up to six (6) months in jail; and/or,
- A maximum $1,000 fine.
It is also important to know that the penalties for this offense may be elevated depending on the circumstances. For instance, if the assault took place against any law enforcement officer or emergency personnel, then the penalties may be increased to include up to one (1) year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. Also, if the victim is a parking control officer, then the maximum fine may increase to $2,000.
A simple battery offense may be charged as a misdemeanor in the state of California. Under Penal Code § 243, the possible penalties and punishments for a battery offense may include:
- Misdemeanor probation;
- Up to six (6) months in jail; and/or,
- A maximum fine of $2,000.
In some cases, the penalties associated with a battery offense may be increased if there was significant bodily harm done to the victim. This type of offense, otherwise known as ‘aggravated battery,’ may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony in California. The misdemeanor punishments are similar to those under a simple battery offense. As such, the felony punishments may include:
- Up to either two (2), three (3), or four (4) years in jail, and/or
- A maximum fine of $10,000.
Of course, as with a battery offense, depending on the circumstances of the situation, the penalties may be elevated. Some related offenses will be discussed below in which a battery offense may be increased depending on the situation.
Related Offenses & Penalties
Along with assault and battery offenses, there may be other similar and related offenses with which you may be charged. Of course, this may all come down to your situation, as the circumstances of your case will determine what charges you may face.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Under Penal Code § 245(a)(1), this offense indicates a situation where you have committed an assault with either a deadly weapon, like a knife or gun or with other means to inflicted significant bodily harm upon the victim. In California, this is considered to be a wobbler offense and may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s previous criminal history.
The possible punishments for this type of offense may range from one (1) year in jail for a misdemeanor and up to two (2), three (3), or four (4) years in jail for a felony charge.
Assault on a Public Official
Under Penal Code § 243(b), if an assault is committed against a certain type of individuals like a peace officer, firefighter, paramedic, security officer, doctor, and more, while they are performing their duties the offense may be elevated.
If you knew that the victim was one of these, then the punishment may be increased to up to one (1) week in jail if the assault did not result in injury. If there was an injury, then the charged may be tried as a wobbler, and a felony can lead to up to three (3) years in prison.
Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury
Under Penal Code § 243(d), if you have committed a battery against another individual that results in a serious bodily injury, then the charges may be elevated. Serious bodily injury is one that physically impairs the victim of the crime (ex. Concussion or broken bone).
If charged with this offense, it may be tried as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s previous criminal history. If a misdemeanor, then the defendant could face up to one (1) year in jail. If a felony, it can lead to up to four (4) years in prison.
Domestic battery is a specific form of battery offense. Under Penal Code § 243(e)(1), this offense applies to battery cases in which the victim was a current or former spouse, a current or former co-inhabitant, a current or former fiancé(e), an individual with which you have a dating relationship, or a parent of a shared child.
This offense is considered to be a misdemeanor, and the possible punishments include up to one (1) year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,000.
Lastly, sexual battery is a specific form of battery offense. Under Penal Code § 243.4, this is a battery case in which the perpetrator touched another individual in an “intimate part” for sexual gratification, abuse, or arousal. In California, this may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances.
As a misdemeanor, the possible punishments include up to six (6) months or one (1) year in jail, and/or fines. If charged as a felony, the defendant may face up to two (2), three (3), or four (4) years in prison.
When it comes to assault and battery cases, there are defenses that may be utilized to fight the charges. With an experienced attorney, you may be able to use a defense that best fits your situation. For these offenses, common defenses often include self-defense, lack of intent, and false accusations.
When it comes to either an assault or battery offense, you may have acted in self-defense or in the defense of other individuals. This may be used as a defense if you believed you or someone else was in immediate danger of serious bodily harm; you used force that was necessary to defend against the present danger; and, you used no more force than was necessary to defend against the danger. Remember: this may only apply to situations in which there was physical danger—verbal attacks are not enough to use physical force.
Lack of Intent
For both assault and battery offenses, there needs to have been a willful intent to cause harm to the other individual. This means that you must have acted on purpose when either attempting to inflict physical force or succeeding to do so upon another individual. This may be understood as having the intent to cause harm. However, for either offense, it does not need to be harmful.
In other words, if you have accidentally touched or hit another individual, you may not be charged with these offenses. For example, if you have accidentally pushed another person in a crowd, then it may not be considered battery since the act itself was unintentional. Overall, the actions made must have been made on purpose in order to be considered under assault or battery.
Lastly, another common defense that may be used, if it applies to your case, is a false accusation. When it comes to heated arguments, there may be situations in which another individual falsely accuses you of either assault or battery. Especially for assault cases, this can be a common occurrence. Usually, the “victim” may be acting out of anger, jealousy, or as a means of retribution. Also, in public situations, you may have been mistakenly identified as the perpetrator of the crime.
If you can prove in the court of law that you have been falsely accused, then the charges may be dropped against you.
Finding a Criminal Lawyer Near Me
Assault and battery offenses are serious crimes in the state of California. If you or someone you know has been charged with either one of these offenses, then you may need help with your legal case. At Darwish Law, we specialize in criminal law and our attorneys are well-experienced when it comes to assault and battery cases. As a professional team of attorneys, we aim to provide our clients in the Santa Ana area with the best service around and to make sure that their concerns are heard. These types of offenses can lead to serious and lasting punishments, and you should not have to go at it on your own. Contact our Orange County Criminal Lawyer today at 714-887-4810. Once you have been charged with a criminal offense, call us as soon as you can so we can look over your case and discuss your options right away.