Assault & Battery
Our California criminal defense attorney represents clients who have been charged with an assault and battery. Under the "common law," assault was the act of putting another in the apprehension of an imminent harm and battery was any unwanted contact with the body of another. There are no longer any common law crimes, but the main conduct constituting assault and battery has been incorporated into law in the California Penal Code (CPC). More specifically, assault and battery, which are classified as crimes against a person, can be found under Title 8, Chapter 9 of the CPC.
What is California Assault and Battery?
While almost always prosecuted jointly, assault and battery are two different offenses. Under the CPC assault is defined as, "an unlawful attempt, coupled with the present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another". Essentially, this means that if you have been charged for allegedly violating this provision of the CPC, the prosecutor will have to prove that you committed an illegal act of force which was likely to result in an injury to another person.
Similarly, Section 242 PC defines a battery as, "any willful unlawful use of force or violence upon a person of another". This is a broad definition, meaning that varying degrees of contact with another person without their consent could lead to a battery charge.
What are the possible punishments for Assault and Battery?
Depending on whether or not the crime is classified as a misdemeanor or felony, the punishment is harsh. If you are convicted of even a simple assault and battery the court could sentence you to six months in the county jail, community service, a fine up to $1,000, among other sanctions.
The sentence can be increased depending on other factors in the case. For example, if an assault is committed against a custodial officer, you could receive a one-year imprisonment sentence, or if the alleged offense occurred in a park, you could be sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment in the county jail for one year and pay a $2,000 fine. Using weapons or other aggravating factors often make the sentence much harsher.
What defenses can I assert to fight the charges?
Just because you have been charged with an assault or battery does not mean that you will face punishment. First, because you are innocent until proven guilty, it is the burden of the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. This means, that the prosecutor will have to convince the jury that there are no doubts that you committed the elements which make up the offense. Second, you have the right to defend the charges against you in court. There are a number of possible defenses to the crimes of assault and battery that may be used to avoid a conviction. However, each arrest is unique so whether or not a specific defense is available will depend upon the nature of your case. In all cases evidence can be presented which casts doubt on whether the conduct actually occurred. In addition, affirmative defenses can be brought where you admit that the conduct occurred but challenge that there should be a conviction. Generally, the most common defenses available for an assault include:
An affirmative defense is available if you admit to committing the crime but have a legal justification or an excuse for your conduct. For example, if another person attacks you and you assaulted this individual to defend yourself, then self-defense is an affirmative defense which is available to avoid conviction.
- Lack of Intent
Under California law, to commit a crime of battery you must have acted "willfully" to injure another person. If you lack the required element of intent, then you are not guilty of the crimes of assault.
You cannot be convicted of an assault and battery when the other party knows that physical contact is likely to occur.
Assault and Battery Defense at the Johnson Criminal Law Group
The Orange County criminal defense attorney at the Johnson Criminal Law Group provides experienced, quality legal help to all those who have been charged with a crime. We understand that everyone deserves the best defense possible, regardless of their situation, because being charged with a crime can have significant consequences. A conviction on your permanent record could affect your ability to obtain decent employment, or could cause you to lose your job.
It is always intimidating when you or a loved one has been charged with a crime. But it is important to remember that help is available. Please contact our office today or send us a message online to explain your situation to our Orange County criminal law attorney immediately.