How Does the Law Define Assault in California?

People often refer to assault as battery and vice versa, but the two are different charges with different legal elements. A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney explains that assault involves the threat of force or harm, while battery is actually inflicting physical injury or force, as defined under California Penal Code 240PC.

Both charges are misdemeanors that attract jail time and fines upon conviction. However, if the crime involves using deadly weapons or inflicting severe injuries, you will be charged with a felony, and the penalties include imprisonment. A skilled defense attorney can provide aggressive representation to help you beat the charges.

What Are the Elements of an Assault?

If you’re accused of assault, it means you:

  • Caused imminent threat of force or violence
  • Either said or did something that led to immediate fear or apprehension
  • Acted with the knowledge that you could cause harm or force your victim with your actions

Sometimes, the only difference between assault and battery is that with assault, you don’t complete the violent action. For example, assume you get into an argument with someone, and you pick your fist to punch them, instilling immediate fear and apprehension of being hit; you could be charged with assault. Another situation is if you swing your fist to hit them, but they take a dodge and miss your fist. Since there’s no actual violence, the offense is assault.

California assault charges are stringent, and you can be charged with assault for something you didn’t think was violent. As long as you did something that caused the other person to fear and you had the capacity to injure them, you risk facing assault charges. Consult a skilled Los Angeles assault and battery lawyer to help you weigh your legal options.

What is Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault is a serious criminal offense; it is characterized by the intentional and reckless infliction of severe physical harm to a victim. It is more than simple assault, incorporating elements such as the use of a deadly weapon, causing injury with utmost disregard for life, or the intent to commit a serious crime.

Aggravated assault is treated as a felony and carries a harsher punishment than simple assault charges. If facing aggravated assault charges, consider retaining a skilled assault and battery lawyer in Los Angeles to defend you against the charges. They can build a robust strategy to have the charges dropped or penalties reduced.

What Are the Penalties for Assault?

Assault is often charged as a misdemeanor offense punishable by:

  • A maximum fine of $1,000 or
  • Jail (not prison) term for a maximum of six months.

However, the penalties may increase in the case of aggravated assault and if the offense is committed against a peace officer, lifeguard, or emergency worker. It would help to have an aggressive criminal defense lawyer give you legal support to navigate the charges for a more favorable outcome.

How Does the Law in California Define Battery?

Under California PC 242, battery entails inflicting actual physical harm on someone, with the offense taking many forms, such as:

  • Attacking someone with a weapon
  • Pushing someone
  • Hitting or kicking someone
  • Spitting on someone
  • Throwing something at someone

Simple battery is a misdemeanor charge, but if it results in severe injury, you could face charges for aggravated battery.

What is Aggravated Battery?

Aggravated battery is a serious crime that is often accompanied by aggravating factors. Unlike simple battery, aggravated battery often entails the use of a deadly weapon and may revolve around the victim’s vulnerability and the intention to commit a serious crime.

Due to the seriousness of the crime, it is charged as a felony with life-changing consequences. A skilled assault and battery attorney in Los Angeles can provide aggressive representation to protect you from the potentially life-changing consequences.

What Are the Penalties for Battery?

If you’re convicted of a simple battery charge, you could be punished as follows;

  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Up to six months in jail

Aggravated battery attracts more severe penalties:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Up to four years in state prison

The charges could be steeper, sometimes doubling in severity if the crime is against a police officer, a correctional officer, or other peace officers. Don’t go to trial alone; you could say something that could further hurt your case. Instead, let a skilled assault and battery lawyer defend you.

How Can I Defend Myself Against Assault or Battery Charges?

Facing assault and battery charges can take a toll on you, but you can leverage your right to defense to fight for a favorable outcome. Your lawyers can help you fight the charges with various possible defenses:

  • Self-defense: If you only acted to defend yourself or another person, you could use this as a defense to the charges.
  • Inability to commit a crime: Even if you threaten someone, but your situation is that you can’t follow through with the threat, it would not be considered assault. For example, if you have two broken or amputated hands and threaten to choke someone, the threat cannot be considered assault due to your inability to commit the crime.
  • False accusation: The victim could have falsely accused you of committing an assault and battery crime based on malice or the need to taint your reputation.

A Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Providing Legal Counsel on Assault and Battery

Assault and battery are different crimes, but people often refer to them as the same thing. Their difference lies in the intention and completion of an action that causes bodily harm to the victim.

Both can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the circumstances. If you’re facing charges, call skilled assault and battery attorneys in Los Angeles for representation.

Miranda Rights Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm that hosts knowledgeable and dedicated lawyers who can come to your defense. Whatever the charges you face, we can evaluate and investigate the case to help you weigh your legal options. Call us at 213-293-1207 to schedule a FREE case assessment.