If you are facing an assault and/or battery charge in California, you probably have a number of questions. What are the consequences? Will you face jail or prison time? Will you be placed on probation? Will you lose your job or professional licenses? What are your rights? At the Law Office of Ashley Daniel we help guide individuals who are facing these charges. We will help steer your case through the criminal justice system, construct a cohesive and consistent strategy for your defense and fight to achieve a positive outcome.
Facing any type of criminal charge can be intimidating and stressful. An assault or battery charge in particular means that you tried to cause harm or caused injury to someone else. These types of charges can follow you through your life. A conviction may potentially limit your opportunities when it comes to employment, higher education, political aspirations or even ownership of firearms. If you have been accused of assault or battery, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Ashley Daniel can help protect your rights and fight the charges you face.
Understanding Assault Charges
While the words assault and battery are often terms that are used together or interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing under the law. It is important to remember that these are two distinct crimes. Assault is defined under California Penal Code 240 (also known as “simple assault”) as an attempt to commit a violent injury on someone else. In most cases, assault is charged as a misdemeanor crime.
If you have been charged with assault, the prosecution must prove that you committed an act that was likely to result in the use of force against someone else and that you did so willfully or deliberately and that you had the ability to apply force or to injure the other person. You may be charged with simple assault even if you swung at someone and missed. Under the penal code, the penalties for assault in California include up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Again, you can be convicted of assault even if no one was actually injured as a result of your behavior.
Some of the common legal defenses used in assault cases include:
- The defendant acted in self-defense.
- The defendant did not have the ability to inflict injury or violence on the other person.
- The defendant did not act with the required intent.
- The defendant was misidentified or wrongfully accused.
What Are Battery Charges?
Under California Penal Code Section 242 PC, battery is defined as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” In order to prove the crime of battery, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intentionally and unlawfully touched another person in a harmful or offensive manner and that the defendant did not act in self-defense or in someone else’s defense or in reasonably disciplining a child. Even if you barely touch someone, that may be enough to bring forth a battery charge. Making any type of contact with a person, even if it is through his or her clothing is a violation of the law. The “touch” need not necessarily cause pain or injury.
A misdemeanor battery is punishable by up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If the victim has suffered any type of injury, the charges may become more serious. In the case of “great bodily injury,” the defendant may be looking at a felony charge and up to four years in prison.
If the battery is charged as a felony, the defendant may face up to three years in state prison. When the battery is committed against a peace officer or emergency personnel, the defendant may face up to one year in county jail. Also, when the battery is charged as a felony, it may become a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. In such cases, the defendant may be sentenced to prison for 25 years to life.
When a battery is committed against a spouse or domestic partner, it may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor and the defendant may be looking at jail or prison time and up to a $10,000 fine. Other consequences in such cases may include probation, restitution, anger management classes and community service.
Those convicted of sexual battery may face harsher punishments. Sexual battery is defined as the touching of an intimate part of another person for the purpose of “sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.” If convicted, the defendant may face jail or prison time and would be required to register for life as a sex offender.
Under California’s elder abuse laws, it is a crime “to willfully or negligently impose unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a person who is 65 years or older.” If you are accused of committing battery against a victim 65 or older, you may be charged with both battery and elder abuse. Also, this may be a misdemeanor or felony resulting in up to four years in state prison.
The most common defenses in battery cases include self-defense and defense of others. Also, parents are allowed to use reasonable and necessary force to discipline their children. In most cases, parental discipline will not lead to battery charges unless the parent’s actions were abusive and resulted in physical injuries to the child.
What Steps Can You Take?
If you are facing assault and/or battery charges, it is important that you politely refuse to speak with the police and contact an experienced California assault and battery defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you contact an attorney, the greater your chances of getting the charges dismissed. Do not post any information about the incident on social media or other online sites. Please remember that anything you tell police or post online can and will be used against you.
At the Law Office of Ashley Daniel, we have the knowledge, experience and resources to aggressively fight the charges and accusations against you. We may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed. We are always ready, if required, to take the case to a jury trial. We are also skilled negotiators who will work with the prosecution to get a plea bargain if that is the most viable option in your case. Please contact us to schedule your no-cost, no-obligation consultation.