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Los Angeles Assault and Battery Attorney

Many people use the terms assault and battery interchangeably. And in some states, this might be accurate. In California, however, the two are distinct offenses. They are defined as follows:

  • Assault (PC 240) is an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury on another person, coupled with the current ability to commit that injury.
  • Battery (PC 242) is the intentional unlawful use of violence or force on another person.

To understand the difference between the two in practical terms, consider this situation: You point a gun at another person, but you do no harm to anyone. That can be charged as assault. If you strike the other person with the gun, that is battery. Note that these must both be intentional acts in order to prove the state’s case.

Assault in California

Simple assault is a misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. On the other hand, depending upon the occupation or identity of the person who is assaulted, and the circumstances (including the location) of the assault, there are a host of variations in the potential penalty including, in some cases, a possible felony charge. Here are some examples. (In each case, the increase in the consequences assumes the person assaulted is engaged in the job duties described.) If you commit an assault against:

  • A parking control officer. The maximum fine increases to $2,000 and the maximum jail sentence is one year.
  • A peace officer, EMT, paramedic, police officer, lifeguard, traffic control officer, etc. The maximum fine increases to $2,000 and the maximum jail sentence is one year.
  • A custodial officer. The offense is a wobbler and could be charged as a felony.
  • Assaults on school or park property, or on a public transportation vehicle. Maximum $2,000 fine and/or one year in jail.

There are numerous other factors which can increase the possible penalty if you are convicted of assault.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Assault with a deadly weapon is a serious charge. Even If the weapon is not a firearm, the offense is a wobbler carrying a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Assault with a firearm also carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. If a machinegun, semiautomatic firearm, a machine gun, an assault weapon, or a .500 BMG rifle is used, the charge is a felony. The maximum sentence, depending upon the type of gun, could be as much as twelve years.

Battery Charges in California

Battery, which is intentional and unlawful use of force against another individual, generally carries a possible jail term of up to six months, a fine of $2,000, or both. As in the case of assault, however, the penalty may increase depending upon the identity of the victim, and could lead to a felony charge.

Battery causing serious bodily injury may also be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Battery committed against a peace officer, fire fighter, EMT (and others) engaged in the performance of their duties raises the possible jail time to one year. Where the victim is (among others) a physician, nurse or other emergency personnel, or school employee. In that case, the offense becomes a wobbler, and may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Battery against an elder or dependent adult raises the jail time to as much as a year. The same applies to domestic violence battery. And battery using a firearm or any deadly weapon will be charged as a felony. Finally, sexual battery (touching) is a wobbler, and therefore could be charged as a felony. All the possible variations are too numerous to list here, but are set forth in PC 243.

Defenses to Assault and Battery

The most commonly used defense in assault and battery cases is self-defense (or defense of another). The defense is explained in the California criminal jury instructions, particularly CALCRIM No. 3470. There are several aspects to the law governing self-defense. First, of course, is that self-defense is a defense to an assault and/or a battery charge. And once raised by the defendant, the burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense or defense of another.

Self-defense can include a number of factors, including threats or harm to the defendant or others in the past, among others. Note that unlike some states, defendants in California faced with a threat are not required to retreat but may stand their ground and defend themselves, and even pursue the attacker until the danger has passed.

Other defenses to an assault charge are that the fear of injury was unreasonable; that you were lawfully defending yourself, another person, or your property; and that the alleged victim consented to the acts complained of.

Note that defenses to violent acts are closely scrutinized by the courts. As a result, you need an experienced advocate to put forward your position.

Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles

Assault and battery, while they may appear to be rather simple, require an experienced attorney to develop a sound defense. Particularly where you raise self-defense as justification for your actions, it is essential that the defense be well thought out and properly presented. Remember that the judge is facing a case involving threats and/or physical harm. That means that some judges will tend to try to find a cause that leads to accountability under the criminal code.

At CBS Law, we understand that courts are moved by considerations in addition to the specific words of the California Penal Code. We also know how to present the facts in a way that emphasizes the innocence of our clients. If you are facing an assault or battery charge, contact our office for a free consultation. Call CBS Law at (213) 800-8005

“When you’re accused of something you didn’t do, the thought of losing everything can be overwhelming. My job isn’t to walk you through the process, my job is to get your life back.”

imgChristopher J. Bou Saeed Founding Attorney of CBS Law

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