Facing Criminal Assault or Battery Charges?
Assault and Battery is a serious charge, and carries serious penalties. Get a strong criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights. Your freedom depends on it.
Call the Ginny Walia Law Offices now for a Free Consultation of your Assault & Battery case: (800) 379-9330.
The criminal attorneys at Ginny Walia Law Offices regularly defend individuals with criminal cases in the San Francisco and San Jose Bay Area including:
Assault and Battery Laws in California
In California, a simple assault is differentiated from battery charges. While a simple assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability to commit an injury upon a person, a battery is a willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon a person. Simple assault can also be differentiated from an aggravated assault or an assault with a deadly weapon because the latter carry higher penalties and can also be charged as felonies. Assault with a deadly weapon (ADW) also known as aggravated assault is a serious crime governed by California Penal Code Section 245 (a) (1). It can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The misdemeanor version of this charge carries a maximum penalty not exceeding one year in the county jail and a felony charge can carry up to four years in the state prison. Additionally, enhancements including the use of a firearm or inflicting a great bodily injury can add consecutive state prison time to the felony charges involving assault.
Likewise, a simple battery without any special circumstances such as infliction of great bodily injury is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of six months in the county jail. However, a battery inflicting great bodily injury can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the gravity of injury to the alleged victim. Furthermore, a battery upon a special class of individuals including police officers, governmental employees and significant others increase the penalties for such crimes.
Understanding California Assault Law
Penal Code Section 240 defines simple assault as an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.
Penalties for Assault charges in California
A simple assault is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding $1,000 or by both the fine and punishment. (California Penal Code 241 (a))
The penalties for assault increase to imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $2,000 or by both fine and punishment if assault is committing against the person of a peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, mobile intensive care paramedic, lifeguard, process server, traffic officer, code enforcement officer, animal control officer, or search and rescue member engaged in the performance of his or her duties, or a physician or nurse engaged in rendering emergency medical care outside a hospital, clinic, or other health care facility, and the person committing the offense knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, mobile intensive care paramedic, lifeguard, process server, traffic officer, code enforcement officer, animal control officer, or search and rescue member engaged in the performance of his or her duties, or a physician or nurse engaged in rendering emergency medical care. (California Penal Code 241 (c))
Understanding California Assault with Deadly Weapon or ADW Law
Penal Code Section 245 (a) (1) charges any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm or by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
Penalties for Assault with Deadly Weapon or ADW Law
Assault with a deadly weapon or aggravated assault shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment. (California Penal Code 245 (a) (1))
Understanding California Battery Law
Penal Code Section 242 defines battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.
Penalties for Battery Laws
A simple battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (California Penal Code Section 243 (a))
Battery when committed against peace officer, custodial officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, lifeguard, security officer, custody assistant, process server, traffic officer, code enforcement officer, animal control officer, or search and rescue member engaged in the performance of his or her duties, whether on or off duty is punishable fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (California Penal Code Section 243 (b))
Battery with infliction of serious bodily injury is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, three, or four years. (California Penal Code Section 243(d))
Battery when committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant’s child, former spouse, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (California Penal Code Section 243 (e) (1))
Defenses for Assault & Battery Charges
The law allows one to use force against another and considers it lawful self-defense or defense of others if:
- One reasonably believes that he or she or another person was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or was in imminent danger of being touched unlawfully;
- One reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger;
- The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.
Act was not willful
If the act was accidental, it cannot be willful and therefore does not constitute assault. Although, it is not necessary that the individual intend to break the law.
One of the defenses to assault can simply be that the accuser is lying. A simple assault charge does not require an injury; therefore it is easy for people to fabricate charges for ulterior motives such as jealousy, revenge etc.
If you have been charged with a crime in California, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long after an assault or battery can charges be filed?
In most misdemeanor matters, prosecution has up to a year to file charges. In certain misdemeanor matters, the law allows longer than a year for commencement of charges. In felony matters, the statute of limitations for commencement can range from 3 years to upwards depending on the charges. For example. Under California Penal Code 799, Prosecution for an offense punishable by death or by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for life without the possibility of parole, or for the embezzlement of public money, may be commenced at any time. If charges are filed after the period allowed for commencement, a criminal defense attorney can and should file a SERNA motion to dismiss charges for lack of timely prosecution.
What if I was simply defending myself?
It is possible to successfully assert self-defense as long as one reasonably fears imminent danger and believes that immediate force is necessary to defend oneself or another person and uses no more force than reasonably necessary.
Can there be a civil case in addition to criminal case?
Yes, a person can also sue in civil court for monetary damages for assault, battery and other intentional torts.
What if the alleged victim wasn’t really hurt?
It is not important that the alleged victim get hurt to prove various assault and battery charges. However, it can go to the alleged victim’s credibility if he or she lied regarding the injury. In other cases, where an injury is a required element of the charge, the lack of injury can be a defense to the charge.
Can the alleged victim drop the charges?
In most counties in California, an alleged victim cannot simple “drop the charges.” However, if the alleged victim does not wish to cooperate with the prosecution, it can significantly help the defense case.
I have never been in trouble before, so am I eligible to participate some type of a first-time offender program for my assault or battery charges?
Some counties have first offender programs for certain types of offenses. However, they are generally for less serious crimes. If you have been charged with a first misdemeanor assault or battery offense, it is entirely possible to negotiate a charge or even a dismissal with the completion of an anger management program, community service and/or fines. For more serious offenses, consult us for a free consultation regarding a range of defenses and plea options. Generally speaking, it is always possible to negotiate a better charge by providing strong character evidence and employment history etc.
Can assault and battery charges be expunged in California?
Misdemeanor assault and battery charges can be expunged upon successful completion of probation provided that you meet the other criteria for expungement under Penal Code Section 1203.4. Certain felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors under California Penal Code Section 17 (b) if you were not sentenced to state prison. Further, they can also be dismissed pursuant to CPC 1203.4 if you have finished your probation and/or jail time.