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San Diego Assault & Battery Lawyer

Assault vs. Battery

The main distinction between the two offenses is that a battery requires physical contact, whereas no physical contact is necessary for an assault. In California a person can be charged and convicted of assault even if the alleged victim was not harmed during the incident. However, for a person to be charged and convicted of a battery in California, physical contact must take place. In effect, threatening a person with the intentional application of force is an attempt to commit a battery. An assault is considered complete when the intentional application of force is successful and a battery is committed. 

General Intent

General intent is the intent to do an act that is prohibited by law. For general intent crimes, the defendant’s intent to cause the result does not matter. The only intent that the prosecution needs to prove for a conviction is the defendant’s intent to commit the act.

Example of Simple Battery: To be guilty of a completed assault a defendant does not need to have intended to touch another person in a harmful or offensive manner. The only requirement is that the defendant intended to perform the motion that resulted in a battery.

Specific Intent

On the other hand, specific intent is the intent to both, commit an act and to cause a particular result. For specific intent crimes, the prosecution needs to prove that the defendant intentionally committed an act and intended to cause a particular result when committing that act

Example of Simple Assault: To be guilty of an attempted battery a defendant needs to intentionally cause harmful contact with another person with the intent of producing apprehension of harm in that person.

 

Assault

Under California Penal Code section 240, assault is the willful application of force, coupled with the present ability to carry out a threat of harm, injury or commit a violent injury against another person. 

Willful: 

To act willingly; to do something on purpose.

Application of Force: 

Any harmful or offensive touching of another person. Touching can be indirect by causing contact with an object or through another person.

Present Ability to Harm: 

To be aware that under the circumstances, the present ability to apply force would likely cause harm to another person. Actual intent to use force against that person is not required. 

Another Person: 

The person’s body, clothing or something attached to their person.

Defendant Did Not Act in Self-Defense:

The burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense. 

 

Assault: Prosecution's Burden of Proof 

In order to be convicted of Assault under California PC 240, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements:

  1. The defendant acted willfully;
  2. The defendant committed an act that resulted or would have resulted in force being used against another person;
  3. The defendant had knowledge of information that would cause a reasonable person to assume that what they were doing would result in force being used on another person;
  4. The defendant was aware that when the action was taken, had the ability to exert force on the other person;
  5. The defendant did not act in self-defense.

  

Penalties for Misdemeanor Assault  

In California, Penal Code 240 is a misdemeanor simple assault.

If you are found guilty of this charge you can:

  • Be sentenced up to 6 months in the county jail;
  • Receive a fine of up to $1,000;
  • Summary probation. 

 

Battery

Under California Penal Code 242, battery is defined as the intentional harmful or offensive touching of another person without their consent. In effect, the act of threatening a person with the intentional application force is an attempt to commit a battery.

Intentional: 

Intend to perform the motion that caused the battery.  

Harmful or Offensive: 

The touching of another person in a violent, rude, aggressive, angry, or disrespectful manner.

Touching: 

The slightest contact, touching or use of force. Physical contact can be indirect by causing an object or another person to touch the person.

Of Another: 

The person’s body, clothing or something attached to their person.

Without Consent: 

The person did not consent to the touching.

Defendant Did Not Act in Self-Defense:

The burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense. 

 

Battery: Prosecution's Burden of Proof 

In order to be convicted of Battery under California PC 242, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements:

  1. The defendant intended to make physical contact with the person of another;
  2. The touching was harmful or offensive;
  3. The person did not consent to the touching;
  4. The defendant did not act in self-defense.

 

Penalties for Misdemeanor Battery 

In California, Penal Code 242 is a misdemeanor simple battery.

If you are found guilty of the charge you can:

  • Be sentenced up to 6 months in the county jail;
  • Receive a fine of up to $2,000;
  • Summary probation;
  • Be required to successfully complete a batterer’s class.

 

Not Guilty

Because of the severity of the penalties involved with either assault or battery charges, your criminal defense attorney will have to determine which legal defense theory will work best in your particular situation.

Here is a list of the most common defenses:

  • It was an accident.
  • You were falsely accused.
  • You were acting in self-defense or were protecting another person.  

To assert this defense, you must have had a reasonable belief that you or the person you were protecting were likely to be physically harmed. The threat of harm must be imminent. A future threat of harm regardless of how severe or likely to happen will not be valid for a self-defense claim.  Also your use of force must be proportionate to the threatened force in order for your actions in self-defense to be justified. This means that the force you used to fight off the attack could not have exceeded the force used by the attacker.

 

Aggravating Factors

In California, assault or battery is subject to sentence enhancement if:

  • Committed against a victim in a protected class.
  • Using a weapon or force capable of producing great bodily injury or death.
  • The victim was seriously injured.
  • The offense was sexual in nature.

Under these specific circumstances, the court is allowed to add extra time to the sentence for the underlying crime.

 

Mitigating Factors

In California, the following are examples of mitigating factors that may reduce your culpability in an assault or battery case.

  • You are a first time offender.
  • You, yourself are a victim.
  • You lacked the ability to cause harm or inflict force.

Under these specific circumstances, the court is allowed to order less severe penalties.

 

Best Defense

If you find yourself in a situation where you could be charged with either an assault or a battery crime, make sure to contact San Diego criminal defense attorney Vik Monder to defend you. It is important to know and exercise your rights once you have been accused of a crime. A conviction for any of these crimes will have detrimental consequences that can last for the rest of your life. You do not have to face these charges alone; we can help you launch the strong criminal defense you need to avoid these consequences.

 

Contact San Diego Assault and Battery Attorney Vik Monder for a FREE consultation today at: 619-405-0063

Contact San Diego Criminal Attorney Vik Monder for a free consultation today at: 619-405-0063

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