Understanding the Difference Between Assault and Battery Under California Law
The two crimes are distinct, and can each result in serious criminal charges.
In many Californians’ minds, assault and battery is one crime — something that a person is charged with after a fight, for example, or hitting someone. The two words are often connected, yet they are two separate crimes. The state of California considers assault and battery distinct criminal charges, each bringing the possibility of jail time and other serious consequences.
Battery is defined as unlawful and willful physical contact with another individual. In contrast, assault is the unlawful attempt to make willful physical contact with another individual, along with the present ability to commit violent injury to another person. In other words, assault is an attempt and the ability to commit battery — or attempted battery. As a seasoned criminal defense attorney Beverly Hills, CA can explain, a person may be charged with assault without every touching another person.
The difference between battery and assault can be explained by way of an example. Assume that two men get into an argument on the street. The first man raises his hand to punch the second man, and then he does punch him. The actual punch may be charged as battery, as it was an unlawful and willful physical contact with the second man. While there may be defenses to the battery charge, such as self defense or defense of others, a prosecutor could likely charge the first man with battery for punching the second man.
According to a criminal defense attorney Beverly Hills, CA, he could also likely be charged with assault, if the prosecutor can prove the following:
- That he acted in the way that was likely to result in the use of force against the second man;
- That he was aware that his behavior would directly and likely result and likely result in force being applied to the second man;
- That he acted willfully, or on purpose; AND
- That he had the ability to apply force to the second man.
Assuming that the first man intentionally raised his first at the second man and then swung it at him, he will likely be charged with assault.
Under California law, simple assault is a misdemeanor. In most cases, this will result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in county jail. Simple battery is also a misdemeanor in California. Punishment for most misdemeanor battery offenses includes up to $2,000 in fines and/or 6 months in county jail.
At Perlmutter & Pourshalimi, our team of experienced lawyers are committed to helping our clients fight back against all types of California criminal charges, including assault and battery. We will aggressively defend our clients, and work hard to protect their rights. To schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled criminal defense attorney Beverly Hills, CA, contact our office at 310-295-2236 or firstname.lastname@example.org today.