Assault and battery are the most commonly prosecuted violent crimes in California. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, under California law, battery & assault acts are two entirely different crimes. The severity of the penalties depends on several factors, including if there were aggravating factors and the nature of the accusations. Both offenses could lead to felony or misdemeanor charges. Assault and battery allegations could result in hefty penalties and serving time behind bars.
If you are facing assault and battery charges in Los Angeles, Leah Legal: Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer is here to assist you to put up a solid defense to counter the charges. Call us today for legal representation.
You need to have an understanding of what is considered battery, the penalties that are relevant to the offense, and the defenses that you could use to counter the battery allegations. Consult a seasoned attorney if you have been charged with simple battery in California.
Any action, regardless of how innocent it seems, could constitute a battery. A minor battery charge can be brought for slight physical contacts such as a nudge, smack, or poke. A qualified criminal defense attorney will explain your legal options, including your constitutional protections and possible defenses.
Definition of a Simple Battery Under California PEN 242
According to PEN 242, "simple battery" is described as any wrongful and intentional use of force or violence against another individual. You could be charged under this code regardless of whether the individual you battered doesn't sustain injuries. According to California law, a mere unpleasant or unwelcome touch on another person qualifies as adequate evidence for the prosecution to file a battery complaint.
The prosecution must prove specific elements before charging you with a battery under Penal Code 242. These elements include:
- You touched another person.
- You purposefully touched the alleged victim.
- The touch was harmful or offensive.
While acting deliberately implies that you did it on purpose, it doesn't always imply that you meant to cause injury or engage in an act of battery. For instance, if you were upset and threw an object across the office, hitting your colleague in the face accidentally, you could be accused of violence. This is because you threw the object on purpose.
In California, battery charges could be brought against you even though the force or violence resulted in someone else being injured or experiencing pain. Even the smallest touch on someone else could result in battery allegations if it is done in a rude, impolite, or unpleasant way.
For example, if you threw spit or hurled an object at someone, you could be charged with battery. Even a relatively innocent act, like nudging someone in their shoulders, could potentially constitute battery when the other individual feels upset by the contact. If the prosecution cannot demonstrate all of the aforementioned factors, the accusations against you could be dropped.
Possible Penalties For Simple Battery Charges
Simple battery charges are frequently filed as misdemeanor offenses in California. Common penalties for the offense include:
- Fines of no more than $2,000.
- 12 months of probation.
- A jail sentence of no more than six months.
Defenses Against Penal Code 242 Charges
The safest way to defend against the allegations is to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with California battery legislation. To support your defense against your allegations, your counsel might use the following assertions:
- You had the authority to discipline your child as a parent.
- You took action to protect yourself or another person.
- You didn't act maliciously.
- The witness who filed a complaint is lying.
Other Types of Battery Offenses
In California, additional offenses that can be brought up alongside or in place of simple battery charges include:
Criminal Code § 243(b) and § 243(c) (II) Battery on a Peace Officer
A battery in California is punishable more severely if it is done against a certain class of people, as per Penal Code 243(b) as well as (c)(II). The people covered by this law are those who work in the occupations listed below:
- A traffic police.
- security personnel.
- Custody assistants.
- Peace officers.
- People working in the probation department.
- A paramedic or an emergency medical technician.
According to California Penal Code 243(b), you could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail if you assault emergency workers, peace officers, or firemen.
Under California Penal Code 243c, the penalty for inflicting harm on another person in one of the aforementioned classifications through battery can be significantly increased. It could also be a wobbler offense, which means you could be charged with a felony. Felony convictions might result in a $10,000 increase in fines and a 16-month, 2-year, or 3-year state prison sentence.
Battery Resulting in Severe Bodily Injuries—California Penal Code 243 (d)
If you perpetrate battery and seriously harm someone else, you could be subject to more severe punishments such as Penal Code 242 (d) which prohibits aggravated battery. Significant bodily injuries are not the same as serious injuries to the body, according to the more common legal definition. A serious physical injury is any extreme deterioration of a physical state, such as sustaining a concussion or fractured bone.
Aggravated battery is categorized as a "wobbler" offense under California law. If the battery causes serious bodily harm, the prosecution could file felony or misdemeanor charges. If you're a habitual offender or when the victim suffers severe injuries, you are probably going to be charged with a felony. If the prosecution decides to accuse you of a felony, you could be sentenced to 2, 3, or 4 years in jail.
This offense could count as one strike under the state's Three Strikes Law. Hence, if you commit another crime, you risk doing more time in jail. A conviction for a third offense could increase the sentence to twenty - five years.
Domestic Battery Under California PC 243 (e) (I)
This sort of battery offense is also another subcategory of California charges classified by the classification of victims. If you assault any of the following people in California, you could be charged with this crime:
- Your fiancee or ex-fiancee.
- Your child's mother or father.
- Your partner or ex-partner.
- An individual you now have or formerly had a romantic relationship with.
- Your current or previous cohabitant.
If you are found guilty of domestic violence in California, you could be subject to the following legal consequences:
- A maximum of one year in jail.
- A maximum fine of $2000.
In addition, if the judge grants you a probationary term for domestic violence, you will have to enroll in a treatment program for batterers that lasts no less than a year.
Sexual Battery Under California PC 243.4
This kind of battery is different from a simple battery, aggravated battery, and domestic battery. Sexual battery is defined as touching another person's private parts for sexual arousal, abuse, or sexual pleasure. The severity of the punishment for sexual battery depends on the specifics of the case. This means that the offense can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
For example, if you illegally confine or institutionalize another person, the prosecution team could file a felony charge against you. If the prosecution decides to pursue misdemeanor charges, you could spend up to one year in jail.
If you are convicted of a felony, you would serve a prison term of either 2, 3, or 4 years behind bars. A conviction for a misdemeanor or felony violation of PC 243.4 could also subject the defendant to register with California's sex offender registry.
California's elder abuse legislation, PC 368, makes it illegal to cause unjustified emotional distress or bodily discomfort to someone aged 65 or older. If you're convicted for battery on a victim aged 65 years or older, you could also be charged and convicted under the provision of California PC 242 and PC 368 respectively.
Battering a senior citizen aged 65 years or older is considered a wobbler crime, punishable as a felony or a misdemeanor. If the prosecution decides to file felony charges, you could be sentenced to 2, 3, or 4 years in prison as well as a hefty fine not exceeding $6,000. In most situations, elder abuse involves financial cases, whereby caretakers exploit the elders by reaping financial benefits to embezzle their finances.
Simple Assault Under California PC 240
California's assault laws, Penal Code 240, define assault. The prosecution must demonstrate the following factors before charging you under Penal Code 240:
- You engaged in behavior that would inevitably result in the application of force against another person.
- You did that on purpose.
- You were capable of using force against another person when you perpetrated the crime.
- You were aware that your conduct would cause a sensible individual to assume that you were about to use force against them.
When you act intentionally, it signifies that you did so deliberately or consciously. You don't need to demonstrate that you were trying to harm someone else, benefit yourself, or violate the law. Any unpleasant or disrespectful touching of another person is deemed to be a use of force. Any contact with another person that is disrespectful or insulting is considered to be an assault.
California law considers any unwanted physical contact to be assault, regardless of whether or not the victim was hurt. You don't have to touch someone directly either. You can accomplish it incidentally by touching the accused victim with an object.
It's vital to remember that allegations under Penal Code 240 can be brought even if you were unsuccessful in exerting force against the victim. Instead, the prosecution must demonstrate that you did anything that could've justified using force against the victim.
The prosecution is not required by law to establish that you planned to use force against the victim. Rather, the prosecution merely needs to show that you were aware that your acts could lead to the application of force under the given circumstances.
Penalties for Penal Code 240
Assaulting someone is considered a misdemeanor violation in California under Penal Code 240. If the judge considers you to be guilty, you can be subject to the following punishments:
- Fines of no more than $1000.
- A jail sentence of no more than six months.
- Summary probation.
If the victim is a practitioner of a specific profession, you can be subject to stiffer penalties. You could be subject to harsher punishments if you assault someone who is carrying out their legal duties. The persons consist of:
- Members of search and rescue.
- Professional medical personnel who is responding to medical emergencies.
- Officers that enforce the law.
- Process servers.
- A traffic police.
- Animal control personnel.
- Peace officers.
If the assault victim fits into any of the aforementioned groups, the sentence will be extended to a year in jail. You'll only be subject to the aforementioned consequences if you were aware or had a good cause to believe that the complainant fit the criteria.
If you attack a protected individual, the penalties could rise to $2000. Moreover, your penalties will rise to $2000 if the plaintiff was an officer executing their duties.
Defenses Against California PC 240 Charges
Convictions, fines, and jail time all look bad on a person's record and can have far-reaching consequences. Having a criminal record for assault would make you seem violent, even though you didn't have intentions to harm anyone.
To dispute and challenge California assault allegations, you and your defense lawyer can make use of the following legal arguments:
- You Didn't Act Deliberately or With the Necessary Intent—If your action was unintentional, you could leverage this to your advantage in fighting the allegations.
- You Defended Yourself or Others—For this argument to be effective, it has to be demonstrated that you reasonably felt that you or another individual was at risk of suffering serious physical harm or death. Additionally, you should demonstrate that you had to use physical force to protect yourself or the other individual and that the amount of force you applied was not excessive compared to what was reasonably essential to deal with the immediate threat or danger at hand.
- False Accusation—Someone might have falsely accused you of the crime out of jealousy, retaliation, or resentment.
- You Lacked the Ability to Use Force or Violence.
Additional Assault Charges
A defendant can be charged with other crimes instead of or in addition to simple assault. This includes the following:
Assault Using A Deadly Weapon
If you're found to be guilty of committing assault on an individual with a weapon, knife, or other force that is likely to result in serious bodily injury, you could be charged under PC 245(a)(1). Anyone who uses a lethal weapon to assault another individual is likely to face a wobbler offense. If you're charged with a misdemeanor, the court could sentence you to a maximum of one year in jail. On the other hand, a felony conviction could be subject to a two-, three-, or four-year incarceration term.
Assault With Caustic Substances
The state of California considers it a serious crime to assault someone using caustic chemicals. This type of offense can be described as throwing or hurling caustic chemicals against a victim's body to harm, or disfigure them. California law considers an act to be a felony when the accused person assaults another individual with a caustic chemical. You could be subject to a prison sentence of 2, 3, or 4 years, depending on the severity of the offense.
Throwing Objects At a Vehicle
This type of offense takes place when a person throws any object or substance at a moving automobile on a public road. In circumstances when the evidence supports it, the prosecution could choose to proceed with this statute rather than California's assault law when charging a defendant. You don't need to be able to exert force on the victim to toss objects at a moving car.
You would still be charged with VC 23110 despite the lack of prospect that the item you threw would damage the automobile or its occupants. VC 23110 is often tried as a California misdemeanor offense. However, if you meant to cause serious bodily harm and the object you hurled could have caused serious injury, the crime would be treated as a felony.
Assault on a Public Official
This crime involves an assault on a public officer intended to retaliate or obstruct them from discharging their legal duties. Public officers include elected and executive officers of local, state, and federal governments, as well as prosecutors, magistrates, and public defenders. California law considers assaulting a public official as a wobbler crime. If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor crime, you would spend up to a year in jail. If the court finds you guilty of a felony offense, you could be sentenced to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years behind bars.
Plea Options and Pre-Trial for Assault and Battery
Your defense lawyer should carry out a comprehensive investigation of the situation and give you guidance regarding the ideal legal strategies to take into account in your assault/battery lawsuit. After the inquiry, a defense lawyer will decide whether there are any grounds for your allegations to be dropped or whether there is proof suggesting you are innocent of the allegations. Motions would be submitted before trial if there are any constitutional concerns.
If the accusations aren't dismissible and the victim doesn't want to advance to trial, the attorney could speak with the prosecution on your behalf to discuss a plea deal. Your lawyer will assist you and put together a defense strategy in court if you think you've been falsely accused or if there are no fair plea bargains available.
Prosecutors often agree and bargain with the defendant so that they can admit guilt to a lesser-known offense. When the plaintiff is not challenged and the circumstances are not severe, the prosecution could offer a diversion program. In certain circumstances, the judge could be in a position to provide diversion. If the diversion program is approved, the case would be withdrawn.
If a person is found guilty of a felony or misdemeanor but is not given a term of imprisonment, probation can serve as an option. Summary probation refers to the informal probation given to those convicted of misdemeanor battery or assault. The offender is only on court-mandated probation, thus a probation officer is not involved.
When a defendant is sentenced to probation by the court, they should follow the rules that have been established by the court. An accused person on felony probation will be required to regularly check in with supervision. Probation terms could involve community work, no further arrests or criminal convictions while on probation, rehabilitation, electronic home confinement, or counseling.
In the case of electronic home detention, the defendant will be compelled to put on a tracking device just at home and at work. If you fail to comply with the terms of probation, you risk being taken into custody and having to serve the remainder of your conviction in jail.
When a defendant is found guilty of assault and battery, he or she would be compelled to make restitution. Restitution involves paying back the victim's costs associated with your act, like medical care and counseling. The offender has the right to a hearing where the complainant can be questioned about how much compensation they are claiming.
If the court determines that the sum is appropriate, then the alleged perpetrator will be required to reimburse the plaintiff the amount that was imposed. Restitution orders become civil judgments if they are not fulfilled following the conclusion of the probation term.
Find A Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
When you're arrested for an assault and battery charge, the events that follow might be daunting to deal with on your own. For instance, it takes a lot of skill and work to gather relevant information to present in court and explain your arguments. For this reason, it is advisable to engage with a defense attorney who is versed in the law and qualified to handle your case.
When you connect with us at Leah Legal: Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, you'll have access to our professional criminal lawyers in Los Angeles. Our vast experience in criminal law has helped us to hone our skills and deliver excellent outcomes. We are dedicated to delivering personalized defense counsel to any individual facing assault and battery accusation to improve the chances of a favorable outcome. Reach out to us now at 424-600-7164.