When a violent incident occurs, you will often hear the terms "assault" and "battery" used interchangeably. However, from a legal standpoint, these two offenses are actually different crimes. Understanding the distinction between assault and battery—and the contributing factors of the incident in question—is critical in forecasting the penalties you might face and what possible defenses will be effective against the case against you.
The easiest distinction to make between these two crimes is whether or not physical contact occurs. California defines battery as physical contact that is considered harmful or unwanted by the victim. While obviously this can occur during violent incidents, it can also involve poking, kissing, and even spitting. In every proper battery charge, however, physical contact actually has to be made to the victim.
On the other hand, an assault charge addresses occurrences in which intent to cause bodily harm is demonstrated. This means a victim does not have to be touched, but only detect that another person's actions are meant to harm them. For an assault charge to stand, the prosecution needs prove a number of different things outlined by California Penal Code Section 240 PC:
- That there was a "willful application of force" by the accused
- That the application of force would likely result in bodily injury for the victim
- That the accused had "present ability" to harm the victim
Examples of simple assault include throwing an object or a blow that does not actually make contact with the victim. In the case that weapons are involved, assault charges can become more complex and severe. Penal Code 245 PC describes "assault with a deadly weapon" charges, which can classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. Factors that can make this charge a felony include the kind of weapon used, an incident of injury, or whether or not the victim was a public servant.
Get the Assault & Battery Defense You Need
Whether your case involves assault or battery, there are often very viable defenses to combat these charges. At The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we understand how serious violent crime offenses are and how damaging they can be to one's reputation. We are well-versed in getting these charges reduced and, in some cases, winning complete dismissals. Get the defense representation you need to fight these accusations.
Call a proven San Diego criminal defense lawyer at our firm to schedule a free consultation.