People often say "assault and battery" as though it were one crime, but this is a common misconception. Assault and battery are actually two separate crimes. Not only that, in California as in other states, assault and battery laws are found in both criminal and civil law.
California law explains assault and battery under Penal Code Section 240 - you may also hear phrases such as "simple assault" and "simple battery". But what's the difference.
Simple assault is any attempted use of force or violence against someone. Assault may be charged even if contact never occurs. Any intentional act that causes apprehension or fear of imminent harm; like a threat of violent contact where a victim feels that a defendant has a present ability to follow through. Assault can also be assumed if the defendant has the apparent ability even if he or she is not actually capable of causing injury.
Battery is the actual use of force or violence against someone. Battery can be charged when the defendant willfully and unlawfully exerts an act of violence on someone else. Another misconception: while we may think that “battery” requires severe beating or other act that causes a victim pain or injury, according to Penal Code 242, all that matters is that the victim be touched in an offensive way. If the battery results in a serious injury, then the defendant may be charged with the separate but related charge of battery causing serious bodily injury, according to Penal Code 243(d).
Penalties if Convicted
In Orange County, California, an assault is treated as a misdemeanor. If you are a defendant, you may face incarceration in county jail up to six months and fines of up to a maximum of $1,000. You may also be required to successfully complete an anger management program and participate in a community service program.
If you are a defendant in a battery charge, a guilty verdict or plea can result in six months in county jail and maximum fines of $2,000 for each count. Likely as not, you will probably be ordered to complete an anger management program and community service. As I mentioned earlier, if the battery results in serious injury, you may be charged with aggravated battery, which may require much more severe penalties.
Other factors can enhance the seriousness of the charges and result in more severe penalties, such as using a deadly weapon (i.e. assault with a deadly weapon) and assaulting a police officer.
Your freedom is important to me. No matter what you are charged with - simple assault, aggravated assault, simple battery or aggravated battery - a guilty verdict or plea will end up causing lasting damage to your life. As your Orange County criminal defense attorney, I will seek out any legal means necessary to control the damage. If you case warrants, I will seek any means that are at my disposal to have your charges dismissed.
For instance, charges of assault do not require actual physical contact, so the evidence will be very limited. Claims of assault are particularly prone to false allegation. Sometimes, an ordinary marital dispute may result in charges of assault because a spouse claims fear of injury or danger. Such charges are often so vague that they are insufficient to support a conviction, even though they may lead to an arrest and the filing of charges.
If you are a defendant with a charge of assault, it'll be my job to find out the facts and evaluate your case for the best defense. During my interview with you, I may find that you have no present ability to act on a spoken threat; I may discover that you lacked intent to commit an act of violence; evidence may prove that you acted in self-defense or the defense of others; or I may show that the charges are false and unsubstantiated.
What if you are facing charges of battery? Only a calm, professional initial assessment of your case will reveal the best defense. My evaluation of your case may show that the injury was the result of implied consent from participation in a contact sport or that there was no intention to commit battery because the injury was the result of an accidental contact.
If you are seeking an experienced criminal attorney to represent you in Orange County, California, remember that the law office of Adam R Stull has defended thousands of people who are charged with serious crimes of all types. Our goal - my goal - is to seek the best possible course the reduce the charges or seek dismissal. It takes a skilled legal team to help you make the case and to protect your freedom.