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San Diego Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with assault or battery in California state court, you need the most aggressive, successful and experienced defense lawyer in San Diego. Assault and battery are serious offenses that require an aggressive criminal defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights and prove your innocence. Mary Frances Prévost is an experienced assault and battery defense lawyer who represents clients facing assault and battery charges in San Diego and the surrounding areas. To discuss your case, call (888) 909-7896 today.

What is the Difference Between Assault and Battery in California?

Many people use the term “assault and battery.” However, assault and battery are two distinct crimes. This page will explain the differences between assault and battery under California criminal law, what the penalties are for each crime, and defenses to each crime.

Under California law, a battery takes place when someone willfully and unlawfully uses force or violence upon another. You can still be convicted of battery even if you don’t harm or injure the other person, as long as you make some type of unwanted physical contact. Battery is defined by California Penal Code § 242.

Assault is defined by California Penal Code § 240. A prosecutor can file assault charges when an attempt to injure another is made. In order to be convicted of assault, no actual physical contact is necessary.

What is Assault under California Law?

California Penal Code § 240 provides:

An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.

To convict a defendant of assault, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant did an act that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person;
  • The defendant did that act willfully;
  • When the defendant acted, he or she was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that his or her act by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to someone;
  • When the defendant acted, he or she had the present ability to apply force to a person; and
  • The defendant did not act in self-defense or in defense of someone else.

Examples of Assault under California Law

There are many different activities that are encompassed by the definition of assault in California. Examples of assault under California law include:

  • During a fight with a stranger outside a bar, a man swings at the stranger in an attempt to hit him, but the stranger quickly ducks and avoids being hit;
  • After a man whistles at her on the street in a way she finds offensive, a woman throws a glass water bottle at him but misses;
  • While their neighbor is mowing the lawn, two teenagers throw rocks at him but fail to strike him; and
  • A man pulls out a gun and points it at someone on the street but does not shoot.

Penalties for Assault under California Law

California Penal Code § 240 makes simple assault a misdemeanor in California. The penalties for simple assault in most cases include a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in county jail.

It is important to understand that California law sets forth harsher penalties for other forms of assault.

California Penal Code § 245(a)(1) provides that assault with a deadly weapon can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. If you are convicted of committing a felony assault with either a deadly weapon (like a gun or knife), or with a means of force likely to cause great bodily injury, you could be sentenced to up to four years in California state prison.

Defenses to Assault under California Law

There are many defenses to assault under California law. Only a lawyer can tell you which defenses are available to you in your case. Defenses to assault in California include, but are not limited to:

  • Fourth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
  • Fifth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
  • You did not actually have the ability to inflict force or harm on the other person;
  • You acted in self defense or defense of another person;
  • You did not act willfully or with the required intent; or
  • You were mistakenly identified by witnesses or wrongfully accused.

What is Battery under California Law?

California Penal Code § 242 provides:

A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.

In order to convict a defendant of battery, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant willfully and unlawfully touched another person in a harmful or offensive manner; and
  • The defendant did not act in self-defense or in defense of someone else or while reasonably disciplining a child.

Examples of Battery under California Law

There are many different activities that are encompassed by the definition of battery in California. Examples of battery under California law include:

  • A man pushes a woman who rejects his unwanted advances at a bar;
  • A teenager throws a rock at his neighbor and hits the neighbor in the stomach;
  • Fans of opposing teams at a sporting event get into a physical altercation and punch each other repeatedly; and
  • A political demonstrator slaps a passerby who comments on the anti-war slogan on his sign.

Penalties for Battery under California Law

California Penal Code § 242 makes simple battery a misdemeanor in California. The penalties for simple battery in most cases include a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to six months in county jail.

It is important to understand that California law sets forth harsher penalties for other forms of battery.

If you commit a battery against a police officer, firefighter, EMT, or certain other kinds of public servants – and that person suffers any kind of injury – you can be charged with the more serious offense of battery on a peace or police officer. This crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. A conviction under California Penal Code § 243 could result in a fine of up to $10,000 and up to one year in county jail.

Defenses to Battery under California Law

There are many defenses to battery under California law. Only a lawyer can tell you which defenses are available to you in your case. Defenses to battery in California include, but are not limited to:

  • Fourth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
  • Fifth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
  • You acted in self defense or defense of another person;
  • You did not act willfully; and
  • You were acting within your rights as a parent to reasonably discipline your child (in cases where you are charged with battery on your child).

San Diego Assault and Battery Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with assault or battery in San Diego or the surrounding areas, contact an aggressive criminal defense lawyer right away. Mary Frances Prévost is dedicated to the zealous representation of her clients, and offers years of courtroom experience. For a free and confidential consultation about your case, call (888) 909-7893.

Do not leave your freedom to chance. Contact the Law Offices of Mary Frances Prévost today.

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