Assault and Battery

Assault and battery are two distinct but related crimes that often occur at the same time and are usually prosecuted together. Battery is the use of force against another person resulting in harmful or offensive contact. Assault is an attempted battery or a failed battery. Battery is the result of a completed assault. A person cannot be convicted of both assault and battery, because the assault is included in the required elements of battery. Assault and battery cases range from simple confrontations and bar fights, to domestic violence and assault and battery with a deadly weapon. Under California law, penalties for these offenses range from misdemeanors to felonies punishable by county jail and state prison.

California Penal Code section 240 defines assault as an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability to commit a violent injury upon the person of another. The attempted "violent injury" defined in the law does not require violence or actual injury; an effort to touch is sufficient. It is the ability to commit the injury that constitutes the assault. Assault under Penal Code 240 is known as simple assault, and is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in county jail, informal probation, fines, and restitution. Certain assaults in California are subject to increased penalties, such as assault with a deadly weapon, assault causing great bodily injury, and assault on people in specified occupations while performing their duties, such as firefighters, peace officers, school employees, emergency medical technicians, sports officials, and custodial officers. Such assault convictions may be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies.

California Penal Code section 242 defines battery as willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. There does not have to be a mark on the victim nor does the victim have to suffer any injury. Marks or injuries would confirm the witness statements that the battery occurred. A touching of the victim, even if slight, is enough to constitute battery. Simple battery prosecuted under Penal Code section 242 is a misdemeanor punishable by 180 days in county jail, informal probation, restitution, and fines. Battery encompasses a variety of behaviors including but not limited to sexual battery, battery causing great bodily injury, and battery in specific places like schools, parks, courts, and hospitals. Like assault, certain battery offenses against victims such as, spouses, police officers, school employees, children, elder and dependent adults can result in increased penalties, including prison for felony battery.

If you or someone you know is facing assault or battery charges, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before speaking to law enforcement. Anything you say to law enforcement could be used as evidence against you.

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