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    Why an Orange County Defense Lawyer is Essential in Fighting Assault and Battery Charges

    Posted on: February 8th, 2024 by Dod Law

    Orange County Assault and Battery DefenseOrange County Assault and Battery Defense

    An assault or battery charge in Orange County is a serious issue requiring excellent legal representation. Your Orange County assault and battery defense attorney will know the ins and outs of California assault and battery law, including possible defenses. A good assault and battery defense attorney may be able to help you negotiate a favorable plea deal, reduce the charges against you, or even have them dropped entirely.

    What is Assault?

    Assault is an unlawful attempt, combined with the present ability, to use force on another person. It is charged under California Penal Code section 240. This charge may result from acts including intimidation, violent gestures, verbal threats, and actual attempts to cause harm to someone. These acts must be coupled with a reasonable possibility the act can be carried out. This requires the victim to reasonably believe that the act can be carried out.

    Consider the following two examples:

    • Ali and Bill are standing next to each other in a bar. Ali breaks a bottle on a table and points it at Bill, saying, “I’ll beat you senseless.”
    • Charlie is securely handcuffed and locked in a police car. She looks at Dani, a bystander, and shouts, “I’ll wallop you!”

    The first scenario likely constitutes an assault, as it combines an unlawful attempt to use force—brandishing the bottle and making a verbal threat—with a present ability to use that force—Ali and Bill are standing next to each other at the bar. In contrast, in the second scenario Charlie makes a verbal threat, but is securely locked in the back of a police car. This is not the wisest move, but is less likely to constitute assault, as Charlie lacks the ability to carry out her threat and Dani cannot reasonably believe that Charlie is able to do so.

    What is Battery?

    Battery is the willful or unlawful use of force or violence on another. It is charged under California Penal Code section 242. Battery does not require acts to be violent or forceful enough to cause injury. The “unlawful use of force” is a phrase that is interpreted very broadly, such that any offensive or unwanted touching is often considered battery.

    Consider the following two examples:

    • Ali and Bill are in a bar. Ali smashes a bottle on a table, tells Bill, “I’ll beat you senseless,” then slashes him with the bottle, leaving a deep wound on his forearm. Bill reacts by punching Ali, knocking him out cold.
    • Dani spies Evan at a work function, creeps up behind him, and grabs his backside. Evan did not consent to this kind of touching and is not okay with it.

    In the first scenario, Ali has committed assault and battery, as he threatened Bill before attacking him. Bill can also be charged with battery, but he can likely avoid a conviction by claiming he acted in self-defense (which is covered below). In the second scenario, even though the contact did not cause Evan any injury, Dani has still committed battery because the touching is unwanted and offensive.

    Penalties for Assault and Battery

    Individually, assault and battery at their most basic (“simple assault/battery”) are misdemeanors, with penalties including:

    • Imprisonment for up to one year;
    • A fine of up to $1,000;
    • Restitution to victims; and
    • summary probation.

    If an act involved a threat (the assault) followed up by physical violence (the battery), the penalties can be increased. Additionally, depending on the circumstances you could subject to aggravated or enhanced penalties. Assault and battery are considered “wobblers” meaning that they can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Assault and battery using weapons (Penal Code section 245) or causing serious injuries (Penal Code section 243(d)) are more likely to be considered felonies. Consequences for felony assault and battery can include:

    • prison sentences of two to four years;
    • Fines of up to $10,000;
    • Restitution to victims; and
    • summary probation.

    The use of firearms increases the penalties associated with assault and battery (Penal Code section 245). Additionally, assault or battery on certain parties, such as peace officers and public workers, may be charged as a felony if there was harm to the victim (Penal Code section 243 (b) and (c)).

    Under the California Three Strikes Law, assault and battery is considered a “strike” if it causes serious bodily injury or is aggravated by the use of force likely to cause great bodily injury or deadly weapons. A strike on your record will mean enhanced penalties in any future prosecutions and make you ineligible for certain sentencing relief. However, reducing the severity of the charge can help you avoid receiving a strike.

    Defenses to Assault and Battery

    Common defenses to assault and battery charges include a lack of willfulness, reasonable threat, and self-defense.

    • Lack of willfulness means that the victim was not injured because of your intent to injure them. If the victim in your case suffered their injuries due to an accident, you cannot be charged for their injuries.
    • Reasonable threat requires a victim to reasonably believe that you could have harmed them. Your Orange County defense attorney can show that you were unlikely to follow through on a threat or were incapable of following through on it as a means of proving your innocence.
    • Self-defense is a more complex defense, as you can still be charged with battery even if you were defending yourself. However, your defense attorney will be familiar with California’s self-defense law and how it applies to your case. Using evidence such as defensive wounds, eyewitness testimony, and camera footage, your attorney can argue that you were defending yourself and convince the jury to acquit you.

    Assault and battery charges in Orange County carry the potential for heavy penalties and require an Orange County defense lawyer who knows how to fight them. DOD LAW has over 20 years of practice defending against a wide range of charges, including assault and battery

    At a Glance

    Meet Attorney Dod Ghassemkhani

    • Recent Case Results
    • San Diego Criminal Defense Bar Association | Named San Diego County’s 2023 Trial Lawyer Of The Year
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    • Over 20 years of criminal defense experience
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