Assault & Battery
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ASSAULT AND BATTERY
Assault is: an unlawful attempt, coupled with present ability, to commit a violent injury on another person. Said differently, it’s any intentional act that would likely result in the application force to another person, and not performed in self-defense. In this way, an Assault is essentially an attempted Battery.
Battery is: any unlawful, rude or offensive, nonconsensual touching. “…[T]he slightest touching can be enough to commit battery if it is done in a rude or angry way…”; and “the touching does not have to cause pain or injury of any kind.” Battery can also be committed by touching an object the victim is wearing, holding, or carrying — such as by shoving or tugging on their purse, backpack, jewelry — or by hitting a person with an object or thrown object such as a stick or a rock.
PENALTIES FOR SIMPLE ASSAULT OR BATTERY
Simple Assault is a misdemeanor, punishable with up to 6 months in jail, one year of probation, and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if the victim of the assault was a; police officer, firefighter, EMT, paramedic, lifeguard, animal control officer, search and rescue officer, process server, or doctor or nurse performing emergency medical care then the jail can be up to 1 year and the fine up to $2,000. And if the victim of the assault is a public official, such as a: judge, magistrate, prosecutor, public defender, or elected local, state, or federal official, then the case can be a felony and can be punished with up to 3 years in prison.
Simple Battery is a misdemeanor, and like Simple Assault, carries a punishment of up to 6 months in jail, one year probation, and a fine of up to $1,000. However, unlike Simple Assault, a Simple Battery conviction also renders the person unable to own or possess a firearm for 10 years. If the victim of the battery was a; police officer, firefighter, EMT, paramedic, lifeguard, animal control officer, search and rescue officer, process server, or doctor or nurse performing emergency medical care then the jail sentence can be up to 1 year and the fine up to $2,000.
Domestic Battery is punished differently. Read about Domestic Violence here.
ASSAULT OR BATTERY CAUSING, OR LIKELY TO CAUSE, INJURY, OR WITH DEADLY WEAPONS
If the assault was likely to cause a great bodily injury if it did succeed, or the battery actually caused a great bodily injury, then the penalties are significantly higher. Similarly, if the assault or battery was with a deadly weapon or firearm, the penalties are significantly higher.
Assault with Force Likely to Cause Great Bodily Injury, Assault with a Deadly Weapon Other Than a Firearm, Assault with a Firearm, and Battery Causing Serious Injury are all punishable with up to 4 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
If the victim was permanently disabled or disfigured by the battery, then up to 8 years in prison is possible. If committed with a semiautomatic firearm up to 9 years is possible. If committed with a machine gun, up to 12 years is possible.
DEFENSES TO ASSAULT AND BATTERY
If you are accused of using a deadly weapon, causing a serious injury, or using force likely to cause great bodily injury a partial defense (to reduce the crime to Simple Assault or Battery) could be that the object was not a “deadly weapon”, the injury was not “serious”, or the force used was “unlikely to cause great bodily injury”.
A complete defense, however, is self-defense or defense of others. If one acted reasonably in self-defense, or in defense of another, even with a deadly weapon, then they are innocent of Assault or Battery (and perhaps even Murder). It is important to note however that one can never use deadly force against threats that are merely to property, and also that pets, under California law, are merely property, not defensible with deadly force.