Work with an Assault & Battery Defense Attorney
In the state of California, assault refers to a person unlawfully attempting to do violent injury to another person and having the ability to do so. While people often combine the terms assault and battery, they are actually two different charges that are often charged together. If you have been accused of one or both of them, contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for a consultation.
The Difference Between Assault and Battery Under California Law
The simplest way to put it is that assault is the term used to describe the actions taken that lead to battery. For example, if someone points a gun at you while you are arguing, and they do so in order to make you feel that they are going to injure you, then the pointing of the gun would be the assault. Battery refers to unwanted contact that leads to injury. Examples include things like punching someone, tripping them, or shoving them.
Assault can occur without battery but battery always starts with assault. Why? Because assault is the threat of physical harm (combined with the ability to carry that threat out) and battery is the actual harm. You can think of assault as an attempted battery, and battery as a completed assault.
The Prosecution Must Prove Four Elements to Prove Assault
In order for the prosecution to have met their duty in proving assault, they must prove each of these four elements:
- The act was a direct and probable result in the application of force to someone else
- The defendant had the present ability to apply the threatened force
- The act was willful
- The defendant knew that the facts would lead a reasonable person to know that the act would directly and probably lead to force
If they cannot prove all of these elements then they have not done their job and you should not be found guilty.
Your Defense Options to a Charge of Assault in California
As is true of every alleged crime, the best defense to charges of assault will depend on the specifics of the case. However, some of the most commonly used defense options include:
- You were acting in self-defense or defending others
- You had no intent to assault the victim
- The alleged victim has made the entire story up
- You have been misidentified and were not involved in the situation at all
- You did not have the ability to follow through on the assault
It is essential that you work with an experienced attorney in order to find the best defense for your specific case.
Potential Penalties for an Assault Conviction
A person convicted of assault in California can face penalties including:
- Six months in county jail
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Completion of a batterer’s course
- Community service
There are a number of elements of this crime that could lead to additional jail time such as:
- The victim was a special class of victim
- You committed the act on school grounds or in other specific locations
- You used a dangerous relationship
- You had a certain type of relationship with the victim (this is then charged as domestic violence)
If the assault was against a peace officer, emergency medical technician, firefighter, or similar public safety person, then there can be additional punishments including:
- $2,000 in additional penalties
- An additional year in county jail
If you are convicted of aggravated assault, you could be facing:
- Two, three, or four years in state prison
- County jail for up to one year
- Fines of up to $10,000.
As you can see, the potential consequences for a conviction can be serious and should be taken seriously. Contact Simmons Wagner, LLP today at (949) 439-5857 to speak to an attorney.