Assault & Battery
Assault & Battery Defense in California
Assault in California is the intentional attempt to physically harm or injure another person, or a menacing or threatening act or statement that causes the other person to believe they are about to suffer physical harm. The crime of Assault does not involve actual physical contact.
Battery is the intentional and unlawful use of force or violence against another—physical contact is necessary for conviction of battery.
Assault or battery with a deadly weapon or with force likely to cause great bodily injury are more serious crimes, and will be charged as felonies.
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 240, 242).
Someone who commits a simple assault or battery in California generally is guilty of a misdemeanor, although certain assault and battery crimes can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, at the prosecutor’s discretion (these crimes are called “wobblers”). When a simple assault or battery is charged as a felony, the court can reduce the crime to a misdemeanor during the case proceedings.
For more information on assault with a handgun, semi-automatic weapon, or other firearm, see Assault with a Firearm in California.
Attempting to strike someone during an argument (but missing) is a simple assault in California so long as the intended victim was within striking distance. Words by themselves are not an assault, but threatening to hit someone with an object is considered assault when accompanied by an action that shows intent to carry out the verbal threat.
Assault against a healthcare worker while providing emergency treatment outside a hospital or clinic, and assault against some public workers who are engaged in the performance of their duties, carry more severe penalties than simple assault, provided the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was a healthcare provider or public worker engaged in performing his duties. These healthcare providers and public workers include, among others:
- doctors and nurses
- emergency medical technicians and paramedics
- school employees
- fire fighters
- animal control officers
- highway workers
- members of the United States military, when the assault is motivated by the fact of service in the military
- public transportation employees
- probation department employees
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 241, 241.1, 241.3, 241.5, 241.6, 241.8).
The following simple assaults are known as “wobblers,” which can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors:
- assault against a custodial officer such as a corrections officer at a jail or prison
- assault against a school district police officer
- assault against a juror or alternate juror by a party in the case
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 241.1, 241.4, 241.7, 1170).
Striking another person or pushing someone are straightforward examples of battery. Less obvious is that pushing someone or hitting someone with a small object that causes harm or physically injures the other person are also examples of battery.
As with Assault, Battery against many public workers and healthcare providers during the performance of their duties, including fire fighters, lifeguards, public transit workers, animal control officers, and probation department employees, carries more severe penalties than simple battery, provided the person committing the offense knew or should have known that the victim was such a public worker engaged in performing his duties.
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 242, 243).
The following simple battery offenses are misdemeanors, but subject to more severe penalties than simple battery against other victims. They involve assaults against:
- an intimate partner or certain family members (domestic violence battery)
- an elderly person or disabled adult
- a public transit passenger
- anyone on public transit property or in a public transit motor vehicle
- a school employee while performing his duties or in retaliation for actions taken by the school employee while performing his duties
- a highway worker
- a sports official while performing his duties at a sporting event
- someone on school property, in a public park or on hospital grounds
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 243, 243.25, 243.3, 243.35, 243.6, 243.65, 243.8, 243.2).
The following battery offenses can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors:
- against a law enforcement officer while the officer is performing his duties
- against a juror or alternate juror by a party in the case
- battery (resulting in injury requiring medical treatment) against various public workers or healthcare providers
- battery (resulting in injury requiring medical treatment) against a school employee while performing his duties, or in retaliation for action taken when he was performing his duties
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 243.1, 243.7, 243, 243.6).
Penalties for Assault in California
A person who is convicted of simple assault faces the following possible penalties:
- up to six months in jail
- a fine up to $1000 (or $2000 if the assault is committed against a parking officer — someone who issues parking tickets)
- probation up to six months
(Cal. Penal Code § 241).
Possible penalties for a simple assault against a healthcare provider or public worker (listed above) while performing his duties, as referenced above, include:
- up to one year in jail
- a fine up to $2000
- probation up to one year
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 241, 241.5, 241.6).
Wobbler assaults carry the following possible penalties:
- up to one year in jail or sixteen months, two years, or three years to be served in the county jail or state prison, depending on the offender’s criminal history
- a fine up to $2000, and probation up to one or three years
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 241.1, 241.2, 241.4, 241.7, 241.8).
Penalties for Battery in California
The basic penalties for simple battery charged as a misdemeanor include:
- up to six months in county jail
- fine up to $2000, and probation up to six months
(Cal. Penal Code § 243).
The enhanced penalty for other battery offenses (such as battery against a healthcare provider or public worker, domestic violence battery, and battery on school property) includes:
- up to one year in county jail
- fine up to $2000, and probation up to one year
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 243, 243.2, 243.25, 243.3, 243.35, 243.6, 243.65, 243.8).
Penalties for wobbler batteries charged as a felony include:
- sixteen months or two or three years to be served in the county jail or state prison, depending on the offender’s criminal history and pending criminal charges
- a fine up to $2000 (up to $5000 when the victim is a juror, or $10,000 when the victim is a public transport worker or passenger) and probation up to three years
(Cal. Penal Code §§ 1170, 243).
Penalties for Battery Against a Law Enforcement Officer
If the victim of a simple battery charged as a felony is a law enforcement officer engaged in performing his duties (even if he happens to be working as a private security officer), and the offender knew or should have known the victim was a police officer, the possible penalties are:
- sixteen months or two or three years in the county jail or state prison, depending on the offender’s criminal history and pending criminal charges
- a fine up to $10,000, and probation up to three years
(Cal. Penal Code § 243).
Pleas and Pre-Trial Options
If you are facing an assault or battery charge, an attorney can investigate the case and determine if you were wrongfully charged or there are other reasons why the case should be dismissed before trial. If the charges are not dismissed, an attorney may be able negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor on your behalf or prepare a defense and represent you at trial if you believe you have been wrongly accused or if there are no reasonable plea options. Prosecutors often will negotiate and agree to a let the defendant plead guilty to a different, less serious crime. Or, the prosecutor may agree to a lighter sentence, such as probation, in exchange for a plea of guilty to the charge.
The Value of Good Representation
A conviction for a misdemeanor or felony becomes part of your permanent criminal record, which can have a serious impact on your life. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A criminal record – even a misdemeanor conviction – can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment.
A convicted felon loses the right to vote, hold public office, serve as a juror, and carry or own firearms. In certain circumstances, a felony conviction also can result in loss of a professional license. Felons who face criminal charges later may find that the new charges are more serious because of their prior conviction(s).
Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney from BAUM LAW CORPORATION will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.
Call us for a free confidential consultation today!
In Los Angeles County, The Baum Law Corp. routinely handles armed robbery cases in:
Airport Court (LAX), Alhambra, Antelope Valley (Lancaster), Antelope Valley Juvenile, Bellfower, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Catalina, Central Arraignment (Bauchet), Compton, Downtown Los Angeles (CCB), Downey, East Los Angeles, Eastlake Juvenile, El Monte, Glendale, Hollywood, Inglewood, Inglewood Juvenile, Long Beach, Malibu, Metropolitan (Hill Street), Newhall, Norwalk, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita (Valencia), Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.