Assault and battery are serious crimes in California. Even a first-time charge of simple assault or battery could land you in jail. More severe charges carry heftier penalties.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help if you have been charged with assault or battery in Los Angeles. Reach out to the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling today. Our respected criminal law firm can guide you through the legal process, explain your options, and protect your rights.
Keep reading to learn more about the definitions of assault and battery in California, the potential penalties, and how you may be able to have your criminal charges dismissed.
Difference Between Assault and Battery in California
Many people use the terms assault and battery interchangeably. While the two crimes are related, they have distinct definitions.
According to California law, assault is the act of attempting to injure someone using violence, while battery is willfully using force or violence against someone. In practical terms, you actually have to hit someone in order to be charged with battery. You can be charged with assault for attempting to hurt someone or threatening to do so.
Types of Assault and Battery Charges
There are two broad categories for both assault and battery under California law:
- Simple assault – Any threat or attempt to physically injure someone else, as long as you can follow through on the threat or attempt. You do not have to harm someone to be charged with simple assault.
- Aggravated assault – A more severe type of assault, typically involving the use of a deadly weapon or violence against a particularly vulnerable victim. Aggravated assault involves knowingly putting another person in extreme peril or in a situation that could cause significant injury. Depending on the specific circumstances of the assault, aggravated assault can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.
- Simple battery – Someone intentionally and forcefully touches another person in an unwanted or offensive matter. It does not matter whether the touch injured someone, as long as the victim did not wish to be touched.
- Aggravated battery – An offender must cause a serious bodily injury. Aggravated battery can also result in felony or misdemeanor charges.
Penalties for Felony Assault in California
While a misdemeanor assault charge carries a relatively light sentence, a felony assault conviction could land you in prison for up to four years. You could also face fines of up to $10,000 if convicted.
Defenses Against Assault and Battery Charges
The facts of your case will determine what defenses you might have for assault or battery charges in California. Possible defenses include:
- You acted in self-defense.
- You were defending someone else or your property.
- Someone else committed the assault or battery, not you.
- You lacked the intent to commit an assault, or you did not willfully commit the assault.
- You were given consent to perform the act.
- You were falsely accused.
Contact an Assault and Battery Attorney in California
An assault or battery charge in California can have devastating consequences, but there are ways to beat these charges, protect your reputation, and guard your freedom. Get help for your case today. Call or contact the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling today for a free consultation.