Assault involves actions that could inflict bodily harm or unwanted contact with someone else. On the other hand, battery involves touching someone else with the intent of causing them harm. Facing criminal charges for assault or battery are charged harshly due to the nature and type of victims involved in such crimes. Should you be convicted of battery or assault, you face serious legal consequences like serving jail time, paying hefty fines, or probation.
Additionally, an assault or battery criminal charge could significantly affect your life. A conviction could cause you to lose your job, custody rights, and the right to own or use a firearm. If you or a loved one is facing assault or battery criminal charges in Bakersfield, CA, you can always rely on legal guidance from the Koenig Law Office. Our group of top-notch attorneys will provide you with much needed legal insight and representation in every stage of your case.
Difference between Assault and Battery
Many people believe that the terms assault and battery can be used interchangeably since they are charged together. However, in California, Assault and battery are classified as two separate crimes. Essentially, assault is an attempt to use force or violence on another person, while the battery is the violence. If you succeed in injuring the victim, you could be charged with both battery and assault.
As individual crimes, assault and battery resulting in serious penalties after a conviction. Therefore a sentence for both could be very detrimental. Besides the legal penalties, a conviction for these offenses may require you to register as a sex offender. If you or a loved one faces criminal charges for battery or assault, it is vital to seek legal guidance and representation from a criminal defense attorney.
California Penal Code 240 – Assault
Under California, criminal law defines assault as an attempt to use force or violence against another person. For you to be convicted of assault, the prosecutor must establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You did something likely to be considered violence or force. For this crime, the force could be termed as the slightest touch done offensively. Even when you did not manage to carry out the act, and the alleged victim was not injured, you can still face a conviction for assault.
- When you committed the crime, you acted willfully. The term willful is used to show that a defendant did something intentionally. Even when you did not intend to hurt the victim, the prosecutor must prove that you acted willfully.
- You acted in a manner that would cause the victim to believe that you were directly using force against them. You do not need to have anticipated using violence. As long as you know that your actions could result in force, you can face a conviction.
- You could use force against the alleged victim. When proving that you are guilty of assault under California Penal Code 240, the prosecutor must prove your ability to use force on another person.
Types of Assault in California
Assault ranges from simple offensive touching to causing severe bodily injury to another person. There are several forms of assault that you could be charged within California. Common forms of assault include:
You commit a crime of simple assault when you use force or violence against another individual. Whether or not you used a weapon, your crime could be considered simple assault. However, you could be charged with the offense if a victim suffers a less serious injury or is not injured at all.
Felonious assault is a serious crime as compared to simple assault. The crime involves using a lethal weapon such as a knife, rollover gun, or club to threaten another person. A prosecutor could charge you with felonious assault even if there is no clear evidence that you tried to injure the alleged victim. If you fire a gun at a person and miss, you will be charged with attempted murder.
An assault that takes place in the victim’s residence is classified as aggravated assault. Other factors that could elevate your assault charges to the aggravated level is the use of weapons and the severity of injuries caused. When you assault a person with a deadly weapon or act intending to injure the victim, you will face aggravated assault charges.
Assault with a Caustic Chemical
Under CPC 244, it is a crime to throw or place a corrosive chemical on another person’s skin to disfigure them. There is a wide variety of chemicals that are considered corrosive for this offense. If you face a conviction for assault with caustic chemicals, you will be charged with a felony and serve up to four years in prison.
In California, it is illegal to touch another person’s intimate part with the intention of sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse without consent. For this type of assault, touch is any slight unwanted contact with another person’s genitals could tract charges for sexual assault. It is crucial to understand that you could face sexual assault charges even when you are in a sexual relationship with the alleged victim.
When sexual assault escalates to penetration or nonconsensual intercourse, you could be charged with rape. If you face charges for sexual assault in California, it would be wise to proceed with legal guidance.
Legal Penalties for Assault in California
Violation of CPC 240 is a misdemeanor. A conviction for the offense is punishable by serving a jail sentence of up to six months and paying a fine not exceeding $1,000. If you assault a peace officer, nurse, or doctor offering emergency services, paramedics, or a lifeguard, your charges will be elevated to aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault attracts a one-year jail sentence and up to $2,000 in fines. Additionally, an assault victim could file a compensation lawsuit against you if you caused them injuries. It is crucial to understand that winning a criminal case may not protect you from a civil lawsuit.
Defense against Penal Code 240 Charges
It is common even for an individual who complies with the law to find themselves battling PC 240 charges. Should you get convicted, the consequences that accompany assault charges could significantly impact your life. Fortunately, you can build a strong defense with the following arguments to fight your charges:
Self Defense and Defense of Others
If you are charged with first-degree assault, you can argue that you acted in self-defense. Self-defense would apply to your situation if you believed that your life was in danger and used the right amount of force to protect yourself from oncoming danger. California law allows you to respond in defense of another person. Therefore, you could claim that you acted to defend another person.
Sometimes, you could be mistakenly arrested and charged with assault. This is because a victim does not need to suffer injury for you to be charged with the offense. It is easy for the victim or perpetrator to blame the actions on the wrong person. Your criminal defense attorney could help collect crucial evidence to prove that you are not the perpetrator of the crime.
Consent from the Alleged Victim
Sometimes, one could be involved in a sport that mandates vigorous physical contact. If the alleged victim was to file charges for assault against you, you could argue that their involvement in the game was voluntary. Additionally, if you are involved in a sexual encounter, and the victim believes you went too far, you can defend your charges by ascertaining consent.
Lack of Power to Inflict Force or Violence
Before you can face a conviction for assault in California, the prosecutor must prove your ability to use force on the victim. If you can prove that you lacked the capacity required to constitute the crime, you cannot be convicted.
Lack of Intent to Commit the Crime
The willful intent to use force on a person is one element that constitutes assault in California. You can try to defend against assault charges by arguing that your actions were mistaken or accidental.
When you face assault charges, it is important to understand that intoxication can never be used to defend your actions. Also, responding to a person’s insults or provocation cannot be used to justify a violation of PC 240.
Battery – California Penal Code 242
California law defines battery as willful and unlawful touching of another person to cause them harm. Battery charges can turn your life upside down. Understanding these charges can be confusing, and you must understand what it entails and the defense available for your case. Before you face a conviction, a prosecutor must establish these factors:
- You touched someone else. Any type of unwanted physical contact satisfies the definition of battery. For you to be charged with a battery, touch does not need to be direct. Using another object as a means of contact with the victim could cause you to be arrested and charged under PC 242.
- You acted willfully. When proving that you are guilty of battery, the prosecutor must establish that you acted intentionally. Willful in this case means that you intended to engage in the act that resulted in a battery. Your actions can be deliberate even when you did not intend to cause injuries.
- You acted in a harmful or offensive manner. For physical contact to be termed as a battery, it must have been done offensively. Offensive touching is that which is violent, rude, or disrespectful.
Forms of Battery in California
There is a wide variety of actions that could attract battery charge. Some of the common types of battery with which you could be charged include:
A simple battery occurs when you touch another person inappropriately, as explained above. If you do not cause an injury to the victim, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. A simple battery conviction may cause you to serve a jail sentence of up to six months and pay a fine of $2,000.
Battery Causing Serious Injuries
If you cause serious bodily injury to the victim while committing a battery crime, you will be charged with aggravated battery under CPC 243(d). For this crime, serious injury is any physical harm such as broken bones or serious impairment. Depending on the severity of the victim’s injury and identity, the aggravated battery can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by a year in jail, while that of a felony could result in up to four years in prison. Instead of serving a full prison sentence, your attorney can seek to obtain a probation sentence.
You would be charged with domestic battery if you committed the crime against a former spouse, current spouse, cohabitant, or parent of your child. Domestic battery, which does not involve injuries, is punishable by a jail sentence of one year and a fine, not exceeding $2,000. Also, you may be required to undergo a barters treatment program.
The battery on a Peace Officer
If you commit a crime of battery against a peace officer, you will face harsher criminal charges and penalties. Individuals who are considered peace officers in California include police officers, firefighters, emergency responders, and probation department workers. For you to face a conviction, the prosecutor needs to prove that you knew the victim’s identity.
If your actions against the peace officer did not result in injury, you would face misdemeanor charges, which result in a one-year jail sentence. If your crime caused injuries, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. The penalties of a felony conviction are a prison sentence of up to three years.
Under Penal Code 243.4, sexual battery is a crime committed upon an intimate part. A prosecutor establishes that you committed sexual battery by proving that you willfully touched the intimate part of another person with the intention of arousal or to abuse the victim. In California, sexual battery is a wobbler. When charged as a felony, the crime attracts a prison sentence of up to four years.
A misdemeanor sexual battery conviction is punishable attracts a jail sentence not exceeding one year. Regardless of the nature of your charges, a conviction for sexual battery requires you to register as a sex offender, which is detrimental to your life.
Defenses Against California Battery Charges
If you or your loved one battles battery charges in California, it would be wise to consult a competent criminal defense attorney. Some of the common defenses you could present in your case include:
- Consent from the Alleged Victim. Physical contact becomes battery when the action is unwanted. If the alleged victim consented to contact, you could present this argument as a defense to your case. As long as contact was welcomed, you cannot face a conviction.
- Lack of Intent. A battery conviction requires the prosecutor to prove that you acted willfully. To fight battery charges, you can argue that you lacked the specific intent to constitute the crime.
- Parental right to Discipline your Child. As a parent in California, you retain the right to discipline your child without facing battery charges. However, the force you use must be reasonable and not excessive under specific circumstances. If you are charged with battery for discipline your children, you can present the right of discipline as a defense.
- Self Defense. Even though committing battery is a grave offense, you can raise self-defense to avoid a conviction. However, you need to prove that you reasonably believed you were in danger and used the right amount of force to protect yourself.
- False Accusations. Battery constitutes of touch, and an injury is not necessary to convict you of the crime. Therefore, it is not uncommon that a person could falsely accuse you of committing a crime against them. With guidance from a competent criminal defense attorney, you could uncover the truth and avoid a false conviction.
Find an Bakersfield Criminal Lawyer
When you attempt to use force or violence on another person, you could be charged with assault. Also, inappropriate and offensive touching of an individual could attract battery charges. Assault and battery accusations are very serious cases. In most instances, these crimes are committed against unsuspecting individuals, and the cases are often built on the testimony from vindictive victims.
When you have an assault or battery charge in your record, you could be viewed as a violent person for the rest of your life, even when no one was injured. Therefore, fighting the criminal charges requires help from a competent criminal lawyer. If you face serious assault or battery charges and are unsure of what to do next, we invite you to contact the Koenig Law Office. Our attorneys will guide you through your criminal case and ensure all your rights are respected. Contact us today at 661-793-7222 from any location in Bakersfield, CA, to discuss more details of your case.