The difference between assault and battery is attempt versus contact. An important term to know when considering charges of battery and assault is “application of force.” Application of force is contact that is harmful or offensive; it is typically the legal phrase used when discussing instances of battery and assault.
- What is assault? –California Penal Code Section 240 PC
Assault is an attempt to touch or hit another person— “an application of force”—without his or her consent. Even a slight touch that causes no pain or injury might be considered assault if it was done in a harmful, offensive, or hostile way.
- What is battery? –California Penal Code Section 242 PC
Battery is the actual touching or hittingof an individual—at whatever degree of severity—with or without an object. Making any sort of rude or offensive contact with another person, even if it does not cause pain or injury, is often enough to qualify as battery.
Further, if physical contact is made on an object that is close to a person—for instance, if a person is riding a bike and another person knocks the bike out from under him/her—that may also be considered battery, because of the close proximity of the object to the victim.
Even simple battery—or battery that does not cause serious physical injury to another individual—is considered a violent crime, and is searchable in criminal background checks conducted by employers, landlords, and government agencies.
How do assault and battery cases work in San Diego’s courts?
There are various factors that determine how an assault and/or battery case will be tried in court. For instance, there are multiple ways a defense attorney might choose to argue his or her client’s innocence, and likewise, there are numerous ways a prosecutor might argue that a defendant is guilty.
- How do you prove someone committed assault in San Diego?
When an individual is accused of assault, the prosecutor of the case must prove four main points:
- The accused was directly responsible for an act that would most likely result in an “application of force” on another individual.
- The accused intentionally committed this act or intentionally threatened to commit the act.
- When the accused committed or threatened to commit the act, he or she reasonably understood that their actions would cause an application of force (contact that is harmful or offensive).
- When the accused committed or threatened to commit the act, he or she was physically able to use force upon the other individual.
- How do you prove someone committed battery?
When an individual is accused of battery, the prosecutor must prove these two main elements:
- The defendant touched an individual with intent to cause unlawful harm or offense.
- The defendant committed this unlawful, harmful, and/or offensive contact while NOT acting in self-defense, NOT defending someone else, and NOT reasonably disciplining their child.
An Overview: Assault, Battery, and Self-Defense in San Diego
In instances of assault and/or battery in the state of California, an individual has the legal right to fight back and defend himself if he reasonably believes that he or others are about to be harmed by another person or become the victim of a crime.
In the case of battery, it can also be argued that any physical contact that occurred was unintentional. An experienced San Diego assault and battery defense attorney may argue that their accused client did not act willfully—with intent—and so the “application of force” was actually accidental.
Assault and Battery: Misdemeanor and Felony Charges in San Diego
- Assault and Misdemeanor Charges
Simple assault is considered a misdemeanor offense and might also invoke a civil lawsuit against the accused. Punishments for misdemeanor assault charges include:
- Up to six months in prison
- Major court fines
- Requirement to undergo anger management courses or other related programs (rehabilitation, etc.)
- Community service or labor requirements
- Simple Battery and Misdemeanor Charges
Simple battery—or battery that does not cause serious bodily injury—might involve these penalties:
- Up to six months in prison
- Significant court fines
- Anger management counseling/courses
- Other appropriate forms of counseling
- Community service
- Battery Causing Serious Physical Injury
If a perpetrator of a battery causes serious bodily injury to the victim, then the perpetrator may face the following penalties:
- Up to four years in prison
- A strike on his/her record that would significantly affect any future convictions that might occur and would appear on a criminal background check
Assault and Battery: Increased Penalties
Assault and/or battery charges can be added to other charges, as well. For instance, instead of simply being charged with assault, an individual might be charged with assault with a deadly weapon—committing the assault with a gun, car, or other type of weapon—assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, or assault on a police officer. These additional charges come with much more severe and harsh penalties.
Any criminal charge can be defended against. There may be extenuating circumstances for an assault or battery, such as self-defense, defending someone else, or defending property. As an experienced, and nationally recognized criminal defense lawyer, San Diego attorney Anna R. Yum can work within the criminal justice system to potentially reach an acquittal, negotiated plea agreement, an alternative sentence, or diversion. She will fight for you by using her years of experience both as a former prosecutor and award-winning criminal defense trial attorney.
Each case of assault and/or battery involves unique circumstances in San Diego County. To speak to a reputable, highly rated criminal lawyer in San Diego about the details of your case in a confidential, zero-commitment setting, contact us today at the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum.