Difference Between Assault and Battery in California
Despite the two terms often being used interchangeably, the legal definitions of assault and battery in California differ greatly. These two distinct charges often go hand-in-hand, but they can be charged separately as well. As such, if you find yourself facing one or both, it’s important to understand what each one means to give yourself the best advantage of mounting a successful defense.
At Dod Law, APC, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you understand the charges against you and build a strong defense. With a strong legal strategy, it is possible to get the charges reduced or even dismissed. In this article, we will examine the difference between these two crimes, as well as the potential penalties associated with each.
What Crimes Are Classified as Assault in California?
Assault is defined as the act of attempting to physically injure another person. It is important to note that actual physical contact is not required in order to be charged with assault – the threat of physical harm is enough. This is why people often use the phrase “attempted battery” when referring to assault. In California, there are two main types of assault:
This is the threat of physical harm or an attempt to do so, even if the attempt is not successful. Simple Assault is classified as a misdemeanor and can include crimes such as throwing an object at someone, making threats of physical violence, and attempting to physically harm someone.
This charge is a more serious offense and is a “wobbler,” meaning it may be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. It involves a greater degree of violence and can include crimes such as brandishing a deadly weapon, threats of murder, robbery, rape, or similarly serious crime, and attacking a protected individual (such as a police officer, a firefighter, or an elderly person).
What Crimes Are Classified as Battery in California?
On the other hand, battery is defined as the intentional and unlawful use of force or violence against another person. Unlike assault, actual physical contact is required for a charge of battery. Similar to assault, there are two main types of battery:
This crime involves the touching of another person in an offensive or harmful manner. This can include pushing, slapping, punching, and other types of physical contact. Simple battery is classified as a misdemeanor.
This charge is more serious and is also a wobbler. It involves a greater degree of violence or physical contact, such as the use of a deadly weapon or the infliction of great bodily harm.
Can I get a Felony Assault Case Reduced to a Misdemeanor?
What Legal Defenses Can You Use Against an Assault or Battery Charge?
At Dod Law, APC, we have extensive experience in defending clients against assault and battery charges. We understand the intricacies of California law and can help you build a strong defense based on your unique circumstances. Depending on the situation, we may be able to argue that:
You Acted In Self-Defense or to Protect Another
Self-defense and protection of another person are valid defenses to criminal charges when the defendant’s actions were reasonable and necessary to prevent bodily harm or death to either the defendant or another person. This is true even when the defendant’s actions resulted in the death of the alleged perpetrator. It must be proven, however, that the defendant’s actions were reasonable in light of the circumstances.
Mutual Combat as a Defense
Similar to the above defense, mutual combat is a valid defense when both parties have agreed to engage in a fight. Mutual combat must be entered into voluntarily and both parties must have intended to fight. Additionally, the fight must not have been excessively violent and the defendant must be proven to not be the primary aggressor.
You Were Wrongly Identified as the Perpetrator
If the defendant was mistakenly identified as the perpetrator of a crime, they may use this as a defense. The defendant must prove that they were misidentified and that there is insufficient evidence to prove that they committed the crime.
The Evidence is Insufficient to Prove Guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. If the evidence presented is insufficient to meet this standard, the defendant may use this as a defense against criminal charges. The defendant must prove that the evidence is insufficient to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Learn the Difference Between Assault and Battery Charges in California With Dod Law, APC
Facing an assault or battery charge in California can be a stressful and daunting experience. Knowing the harsh penalties and potential long-term consequences of a conviction, it is important for those facing such charges to seek legal advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
At Dod Law, APC, we understand the gravity of the situation and we will work diligently to protect your rights and interests. By providing personal attention to each case and developing a tailored defense strategy, our team with over 18 years of experience can help you understand the charges and explore the best defense strategy. Contact us online or call us at our downtown San Diego office (619) 814-5110 | Vista office 760-814-6025 today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.