Assault and Battery Lawyer

When you’re dealing with assault and battery charges, it can be a tough situation to tackle. Whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony charges, and regardless of the evidence against you, having a defense lawyer by your side is crucial for a chance to overcome the charges.

At Elite Criminal Defense, we understand the gravity of assault and battery charges, and we’re here to assist you in building a strong defense strategy. Your assault and battery lawyer is here to guide you through the criminal trial process and help you assess your options for handling these cases. Let’s dive into understanding the differences and potential defenses.


How Is Assault Different From Battery Under U.S. Law?

You might think of assault and battery as one charge, but they’re distinct offenses. Let’s break down the differences:

Assault charges result from intentionally causing someone to fear physical harm or offensive touching. This doesn’t require actual physical contact but involves creating fear of harm.

Battery involves intentionally touching or physically harming someone. It’s about the completion of harmful contact. Both offenses differ in intent and action, and you could face both charges. A skilled defense attorney can help you navigate these charges effectively.

Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault

Assault charges can be further divided into simple and aggravated assault. Let’s unravel these categories:

Simple assault, also known as misdemeanor assault, involves threats that lead to minor injuries, like a shove or a raised fist.

Aggravated assault is more severe, often involving threats of serious harm or using a deadly weapon. This can result in felony charges with significant consequences.


Assault Penalties

You may hear “misdemeanor” and think the penalties won’t be very severe and that you’re better off just taking a conviction rather than fighting the charges. But even for a misdemeanor assault, the penalties can alter your life. 

You could face up to six months in jail, or longer if you assaulted certain types of officers, and up to $1,000 in fines. You may also have other restrictions, such as community service, that can limit your time and ability to work throughout the time you are serving your sentence. 

The penalties are more severe for felony charges. A felony assault can result in up to $10,000 in fines, and depending on the severity of your case and related charges, up to four years in prison.

You may also face other consequences once a conviction is on your record. That criminal record will appear on a background check, impacting your ability to gain employment, get housing, and even seek a loan. Because the impacts can be so widespread, you may need a lawyer to help you understand the charges against you before you act.

Definition of Assault Penal Code PC 240

State law defines assault as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” But what does that mean?

An assault in California can be broken down into four elements:

  1. You acted in a way that would likely result in the application of force to someone else.
    Example: During a baseball game, the umpire makes a bad call for your team. After the game, you take a swing at the umpire.
  2. You did that act on purpose.
    You took a swing at the umpire on purpose (whether or not you intended to make contact or did make contact).
  3. You knew the circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to conclude that your action would probably and directly result in application of force to the other person.
    You knew you were swinging your arm and fist near the umpire’s head. Whether or not you actually made contact, your action was likely to result in force applied to the umpire.
  4. You had the immediate ability to apply force to the other person.
    You didn’t swing at the umpire from up in the stands where you could never reach the umpire. You ran down to the diamond and took a swing close enough to the umpire that you had the immediate ability to actually hit him.

So, as you can see from that example, you don’t have to physically hurt anyone or even make physical contact with them to be charged with and convicted of assault. Keep reading to see how battery differs from assault. 

What Is the Crime of Simple Battery?

Simple battery refers to intentional, forceful contact with another person.

This is opposed to aggravated battery, where there is serious bodily injury to the victim, which may come with more jail time and a more severe sentence.

Our umpire example provides an easy way to understand the difference between assault and battery: When you intentionally take a swing at the umpire, you’ve committed assault. When your fist makes contact with the umpire, you’ve committed battery.

Battery Penalties

Battery penalties depend on the severity of the charges. If you’re charged with a misdemeanor, you may face up to six months in jail, or longer if you assaulted certain types of officers. You may also be fined up to two thousand dollars. If you are charged with a felony, you may face longer sentences in prison and higher fines.

In both cases, it is essential to remember that you will likely be unable to work during this time, which can impact your ability to pay these fines and keep your housing. Because of this, defending your case with a criminal defense attorney can significantly impact your future.


Definition of Battery Penal Code PC 242

Battery, as defined by Penal Code PC 242, is willful touching by force, even if that touch does not necessarily harm the victim. 

For example, grabbing someone against their will may not have caused physical harm, but you could still be charged with battery. Whereas assault only involves the threat of physical injury, the definition of battery is the completion of that threat.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense if Charged with the Crime of Assault or Battery?


In California, if you’re charged with the crimes of assault or battery, you can raise various legal defenses to these charges. Both assault and battery are considered serious offenses under California law, but the legal system recognizes that there can be circumstances that mitigate or negate your culpability.

One of the defenses you may raise is self-defense. California law allows individuals to use force, including deadly force in certain situations, to protect themselves or others from imminent harm. If the defendant can demonstrate that they reasonably believed they were in danger of physical harm and that their use of force was necessary to defend against that danger, they may be able to justify their actions under the self-defense doctrine.

Another potential defense is defense of others. Similar to self-defense, this defense asserts that the defendant’s actions were undertaken to protect another person from harm, and the defendant believed their intervention was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances.

Additionally, you could argue that you acted without intent. Assault and battery charges typically require a certain level of intent or purposeful action. If the defendant can show that their actions were accidental or unintentional, it could undermine the prosecution’s case.

Mistaken identity is another possible defense. If you can prove that you were wrongly identified as the perpetrator of the assault or battery, this could cast doubt on your involvement in the alleged crime.

In cases where there is insufficient evidence, you might raise a lack of evidence defense. This involves challenging the prosecutor’s ability to prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

It’s important to note that each case is unique and the viability of these defenses can depend on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial in order to determine the most appropriate defense strategy based on the details of your case and the nuances of California law.


The Key Takeaway

The distinction between assault and battery is significant in U.S. law; assault involves creating fear of harm without necessarily touching, while battery involves intentional physical contact. These charges can be broken down further into simple and aggravated assault, with varying penalties. Penalties can be severe, impacting your life significantly, even for misdemeanors. A conviction can lead to jail time, fines, and other restrictions, and felonies carry even graver consequences. Consulting a lawyer is imperative for understanding your charges and mounting a defense.

Facing assault and battery charges can be challenging, regardless of the strength of evidence against you, whether the charges are misdemeanors or felonies. A defense lawyer’s presence is crucial in navigating these circumstances. At Elite Criminal Defense, we comprehend the seriousness of such charges and are committed to aiding you in constructing a robust defense strategy. Your lawyer will guide you through the trial process, helping you explore your options.  Get help by calling 619-642-2310 or filling out our online contact form.

Assault and Battery FAQ 


Before your court date, you need your questions answered about your assault and battery charges. Free advice from the internet may not be so helpful, and without a lawyer on your side, it is easy to make a mistake.

Contact one of our criminal defense attorneys to learn more if you need specific legal advice. You can also read more about these charges while waiting for your consultation.

What is first-degree assault or battery? Second-degree? Third-degree?

While some states use the terms “first-degree”, “second-degree”, and “third-degree” to categorize levels of assault, California’s penal code is a little bit different. Generally, “first-degree” signifies the most serious version of a crime. In California, the most severe form of assault which would be comparable to first-degree assault would be assault with a deadly weapon. Second-degree assault would likely be comparable to California’s “aggravated assault” charge. And, third-degree assault would be closest to simple assault.

Similarly, for battery there are different levels. Simple battery is considered less severe than aggravated battery, or “battery causing serious bodily injury.”

What is the statute of limitations on assault and battery?

The statute of limitations on assault and battery depends on the severity of the type of assault or battery. For example, simple assault has a one year time limit to be charged. Certain felonies may have a time limit of ten years, while others may be filed at any time, with no deadline to prosecute.

If you are unsure whether the statute of limitations has passed for the criminal charges you are facing, reach out for guidance. Your attorney can help you get the answers you need and help you build a strong defense.

How long can you go to jail for assault and battery in California?

When a police officer carries out a warrant for your arrest, you may be in jail for a short time while awaiting your assault and battery trial. But how long could you spend in jail if you are convicted?

The answer depends on the degree of severity. For example, you may face a longer sentence for assault with a deadly weapon instead of a simple assault. The length of time also depends on whether you have previous strikes under California’s three-strikes law. Talk to your attorney about the specifics of your case to understand exactly what penalties you may face.


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