What is meant by assault and battery in California?

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The answer to this question is in two parts, because assault is actually a different offense to battery. If you take a look at California penal code 240, you will see that the crime of assault is defined as an attempt to be violent towards another person. This is different to what most people think of as assault, whereby someone is actually attacked, using force or violence. This is actually battery, and is dealt with under California penal code 242.

So, the violence that people think of when they hear the word assault, is actually legally termed as battery in the state of California. What happens if you are faced with this charge in the state? Obviously, you should seek advice from a professional, such as an Orange County Criminal Attorney , if you are facing charges. But, here is some general advice that you may find useful.

What constitutes battery in California?

The definition of battery my not be exactly what you would expect. You would probably think that someone would need to be seriously hurt in the encounter, in order for you to be charged with battery. This is not the case. For instance, if you are having an argument with someone and you give them a shove, you could be charged with battery. There is no need for anyone to have been hurt in order for a charge to be made.

What happens if you are charged with battery?

On the majority of occasions, a charge of battery is classed as a misdemeanour in California. This does not apply if the battery is committed against a public servant; this includes police and EMTs. This type of charge is dealt with under California penal code 243. It’s a “wobbler” offense which means that it could be a misdemeanour or a felony.

If you are found guilty of battery, you will normally face a fine of around $2,000 and as much as six months in county jail.

Defending yourself against a battery charge

There are certain defenses that you may be able to use, if you are ever charged with battery. You can say that:

  • The battery was an act of self defense. If you use this as a defense, the court will expect to see evidence that you believed you were in danger. You should also have only used the amount of force necessary to escape the situation.
  • The act was not deliberate. You may have hit a person accidentally, for instance.
  • You were carrying out discipline on your child. This discipline needs to have been at a reasonable level.

You should ask your attorney about these, and other possible defenses, against the charge of battery.

So, you can see that what many people regard as assault and battery, or simply assault, is actually defined as battery, under the California legal system. The charge of battery is fairly common, and no-one needs to have been hurt in order for charges to be brought.