Assault & Battery

In California, there is a legal distinction between assault and battery. California law defines an assault as the threat and/or attempt to use force or violence on another individual. This includes acts or statements that cause another individual to perceive they will be attacked but does not include actual physical contact. (Pen. Code, §240.) California law defines battery as the actual physical use of force or violence on another individual. (Pen. Code, §242.). This is why assault and battery often go hand in hand. Assault and battery charges are also known as "wobblers" because they can be filed as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances of the situation.

Many times individuals with no criminal history face charges of assault and/or battery without even realizing they were doing anything against the law. Teenagers throwing rocks at their neighbor or a woman slapping a man who propositions her are both examples of assault and battery (respectively). The most minor altercations can lead to serious consequences if the is not handled correctly. It is critical that individuals facing these kinds of charges have good legal representation so that the charges can be dismissed or a plea bargain can be negotiated.

At Hamasaki Law, we will guide you through the process from the moment we are contacted until your matter is resolved. We will spend the time with you explaining various options and strategies and we will work together to determine the best approach to fighting your case. Contact us now to discuss your case and let us help you through the process.

  • Assault
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon
  • Battery
  • Battery with Serious Bodily Injury
  • Battery on a Peace Officer
  • Common Issues and Defenses

The attempt or threat to commit an act of physical violence on another person is considered an assault. In order to be convicted of assault the offender must have had the physical capability of committing the threat. This may include throwing a punch and missing, or striking a person with an object. This is also called a "simple assault" and is generally charged as a misdemeanor. The identity of the victim in an assault is an important factor in determining whether simple assaults are charged as felonies or misdemeanors. If the victim was a healthcare provider or public worker and the defendant was aware or should have been aware of their identity then they may face harsher punishment.

The penalties for simple assault include up to six months in county jail, and a fine up to $1000. If the defendant is convicted of simple assault against a healthcare provider or public worker they face possible penalties up to one year in jail, a fine up to $2000, and probation up to one year. Wobbler assaults have harsher penalties and are dependent on the defendant's criminal history, they may face up to one year in jail or more, a fine up to $2000, and/or probation up to three years.

Assault with a deadly weapon is defined as an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury on another person by means of a "deadly weapon" or by means of force likely to produce death or great bodily injury. (Pen. Code, §245.). A knife or a gun are obvious examples of a deadly weapon. However, other objects or instruments can also be considered a deadly weapon depending on the manner in which it is used. A bottle, a pencil, or an attack dog are other examples of items that can sometimes be considered deadly weapons.

The penalties for assault with a deadly weapon can range dramatically depending on the type of weapon used, whether the alleged assault victim sustained an injury, and whether the victim was a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other protected person. If the crime is charged as a misdemeanor, than the maximum sentence is one year in county jail. If the crime is charged as a felony, then the sentence is normally two to four years in state prison but can be even greater if the weapon used was a firearm.

Battery is defined as the willful and unlawful use of force or violence on someone else. Battery is often thought of as the actual physical act that follows assault. Any physical touch that may be perceived as offensive can also be considered battery, regardless of whether the victim suffers any pain or injury (i.e. spitting in a person's face can be considered battery if it was done with the intent to offend that person.)

The penalties for battery vary depending on the severity of the crime. Simple battery charged as a misdemeanor includes up to six months in county jail, a fine up to $2000, and probation up to six months. Battery charged as a felony can result in jail time from 16 months to three years, a fine up to $2000 (or more if the victim is a juror or public transport worker), and probation up to three years.

Battery with serious bodily injury is also referred to as "aggravated battery." This occurs when the victim suffers a serious bodily injury as a result of the battery. The injury may be a broken bone, a concussion, loss of consciousness, wounds requiring extensive suturing, or a variety of other impairments to someone's physical condition.

If charged as a misdemeanor, aggravated battery can result in up to one year in county jail, and/or a fine up to $1,000. If charged as a felony, aggravated battery can result in 2 to 4 years in county jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.

Battery against a law enforcement officer is a more severe crime and can result in harsher penalties. This would occur if the victim is a law enforcement officer engaged in performing his duties, and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was a police officer.

The penalties for this crime include 16 months to 3 years in county jail or state prison, a fine up to $10,000, and probation up to 3 years.

  • The defendant lacked the ability to inflict force/violence on the threatened individual.
  • The defendant was acting in self-defense.
  • The defendant did not have the intent to assault or batter the victim. If the physical infliction on the victim was unintentional then it is considered accidental battery.
  • In the case of battery with serious bodily injury, the injury wasn't actually serious.
  • In the case of battery on a peace officer, the officer was not engaged in his/her duties when the alleged battery occurred.