Los Angeles Assault and Battery Defense Attorney
The terms “assault” and “battery” are often used together, but these are actually separate crimes under California law. This means that if you are charged with assault and battery, you may be convicted of each charge independently, with separate penalties for each charge.
Both assault and battery are considered violent crimes in the State of California. If you are facing assault and/or battery charges in California, you may be facing significant consequences. A knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles assault and the battery defense attorney may be able to help reduce your sentence or get the charges themselves reduced or dismissed.
What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery in California?
California law defines assault as a threat to cause harm to another person. Verbal threats are typically not enough to support assault charges. You must have an intent to commit violence and the means of causing harm. For example, assault may involve trying to kick or punch someone but failing to make contact.
Battery occurs when an individual makes physical contact with another person, knowingly and intentionally. You do not need to cause an obvious injury to be charged with battery. Any unwanted physical contact, such as offensive touching, may lead to an arrest on battery charges.
Typically, if you are charged with battery, you will also be charged with assault. This is because California law assumes that if you knowingly use force against another person, you must have also intended to use force.
California law also recognizes the crime of “aggravated” assault and battery. You may be charged with aggravated assault and battery if you:
- Caused serious bodily injury;
- Used a deadly weapon; OR
- Intended to commit another violent offense such as rape, robbery or murder.
Penalties for Assault and Battery in California
While simple assault is typically a misdemeanor in California, assault and battery may rise to the level of a felony, depending on several factors including:
- The severity of the injury caused;
- Whether a weapon was used;
- Whether the assault and battery occurred in the commission of another crime;
- The perpetrator’s past criminal history;
- Where the incident occurred; AND
- The identity of the alleged victim.
Aggravated assault and battery are generally treated as felonies, as are assaults on government employees or healthcare workers and assaults that take place in the alleged victim’s home.
If you are facing felony assault and battery charges, you may be sentenced to up to four years in prison. You may also have to serve probation or pay substantial fines. In some cases, a felony conviction will count against California’s “three strikes” law, which mandates that if you are convicted of a felony with two previous charges on your record, your sentence can be doubled. If you used a firearm in the commission of an assault and/or battery, you may also be subject to California’s stringent “10-20-life” gun law, which could add up to an additional 25-to-life to your overall sentence.
Defenses to Assault and Battery
To support a conviction for assault, the prosecution will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- Your actions were willful;
- You know that your actions could result in the use of force against another person; AND
- You had the physical ability to use force against another person.
To support a conviction for battery, the prosecution will need to show that:
- You physically touched another person or caused them to be touched;
- You had the intent to touch or harm that person;
- The person did not consent to the touching; AND
- The person was harmed by your conduct.
If the government fails to prove each of these elements, you are not guilty of assault and/or battery.
These elements are not easy to prove. A skilled defense attorney may be able to raise reasonable doubts that you were the alleged assailant or may be able to argue that you were acting in self-defense, in defense of another person or to prevent a crime. Consent is another viable defense to battery charges. This defense can be used effectively in circumstances that involve games (such as boxing or wrestling), surgery, or body alterations, where the alleged victim consented to a certain risk of harm. We were retained by a client who threw a soda can and hit another man in the head. At trial we argued self-defense and that our client believed the “victim” was about to harm his girlfriend. The jury agreed with our defense.
How a Los Angeles Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you are facing felony assault and/or battery charges in California, you will need experienced counsel to help you to construct a defense and ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Felony assault and battery charges can have a severe negative impact on your future and your reputation. The Law Offices of Adrian M. Baca have over 30 years of experience defending clients against these serious charges. We will ensure that your perspective is taken seriously.
Contact us for a free and confidential initial consultation.