“Assault & Battery” Defenses & Punishment – California Penal Code 240 & 242 PC
Although assault and battery charges are distinct criminal offenses, they may however be carried out together by the same act. To be clear, battery requires the physical harmful or offensive contact to another whereas assault does not require any physical contact. Moreover, assault can be an unsuccessful attempt to commit a battery. Both crimes of simple assault or simple battery are misdemeanor offenses carrying consequences of six months in the county jail.
If accused or you’re under investigation for either charge, it’s best to have another person photograph any/all scratches, bruises, or other markings before they heal as it may be pertinent evidence in your defense. These charges frequently stem from domestic disputes among roommates or cotenants, or within bars, or parties. When standing accused of assault or battery, it’s important that you retain an attorney who has extensive experience in handling violent crimes – Contact an Orange County criminal defense lawyer.
The following article will address 15 important things you should know about assault & battery laws & defenses.
1. What is the Definition of Assault?
California assault is codified under Penal Code § 240 PC which states, “An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”
2. Early Intervention
Any assault or battery allegation can be a misunderstanding or perhaps an exaggeration from the police or alleged victim. In any event, retaining an assault or battery lawyer at the cases earliest juncture is absolutely necessary. When you’re arrested for assault or battery, the police will collect evidence, photograph the injuries, and draft an arrest report. The police will then forward their arrest report to the prosecuting agency for review to determine whether formal assault or battery charges should be filed against you.
The filing prosecutor will review the report very narrowly only considering the opinion(s) and representation(s) of the police officer. However, when appropriate, Mr. Rogers can submit a mitigation package on your behalf consisting of character letters, additional witness statements or evidence, and perhaps your side of the story. This approach ensures the prosecutor considers all the evidence prior to filing charges. Mr. Rogers has received a number of successful results in convincing the filing prosecutor not to file charges and reject the case completely.
3. What Evidence Should be gathered in my Assault or Battery Case?
• Phone details, social media messages, text messages from the alleged victim
• Photographs of your injuries (bruises, scratches, marks)
• Security / Surveillance footage from business around the incident
• Statements from those who witnessed the incident
• Criminal background check on the alleged victim
• Cell phone audio/video recordings of the incident
• Good character references on your behalf
4. What must the Prosecutor Need to Prove for Assault?
In order for you to be guilty of simple assault under PC § 240, the prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. You did an act and by its nature would probably and directly result in the application of force to another;
2. You acted willfully;
3. You were aware that your act would reasonably result in the application of force to another;
4. You had the present ability to apply for force to another;
5. You were not acting in self-defense
5. What are the Defenses to Assault?
• You’ve been wrongly accused based on mistaken identification
• Your accuser is exaggerating or fabricating the incident
• You didn’t reasonably believe your actions would result in committing an assault
• You were responding in self-defense or defense of another
• You did not act with the requisite intent but rather it was an accident
6. What is the Punishment for Assault?
The punishment for an assault conviction carries up to 6 months in the county jail and a fine amount not exceeding $1,000. Normally the court will place you on a period of probation for three years and impose counseling classes and anger management. In addition, the court may impose a restriction on your ability to own a firearm and a conviction could adversely affect your ability to obtain or maintain a state issued license.
7. Assault Expungement
If you suffer from an assault conviction under PC § 240, then you may be eligible to expunge your conviction pursuant to California PC § 1203.4. Certain conditions apply to obtain this remedy. For instance, you must be completed with probation and obeyed all orders from the court. If eligible, and upon property petition, the court will withdraw its finding of guilt, enter a not guilty plea, and dismiss the case pursuant to the expungement statute. After which, you will be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from your conviction. If you were convicted of assault, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to discuss your assault expungement eligibility.
8. What are Examples of Assault?
• Intending to punch someone else but instead miss
• Throwing a rock at another person and almost striking them
• Swinging a baseball bat in someone else’s direction
• Pointing a loaded firearm in someone’s direction
9. What is the Definition of Battery?
According to California PC § 242, battery is defined as “A battery is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” Notice that battery requires the use of force whereas assault only requires the present ability coupled with the intent to use force on someone else. In other words, battery requires unlawful physical contact to another.
10. What does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for Battery?
In order for you to be found guilty of battery under PC § 242, the prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. You willfully and unlawfully touched another person in a harmful or offensive manner
2. You were not acting in self-defense
11. What are the Legal Defenses to Battery?
• A reasonable person would not be offended by your act of touching
• You were acting in self-defense or the defense of another
• Your accuser is exaggerating or fabricating the circumstances
• You are wrongly accused based on mistaken identification
• You did not harbor the requisite intent to commit a battery
• You were acting within your parental rights in disciplining your child
• You did not reasonably believe your conduct would cause a battery
• You had consent from the accuser
• Your incriminating statements to police were illegally obtained
• The physical evidence against you was illegal obtained by police
12. What is the Punishment for Battery?
The punishment for battery under PC § 242 will depend on the level of injury the alleged victim received. But a conviction for simple battery carries up to 6 months in the county jail and a court fine not to exceed $2,000. In addition, you order to pay restitution for medical bills the alleged victim incurred.
Generally, the court place you on a period of probation for three years and impose anger management classes in lieu of jail time. Furthermore, you may lose your ability to own a firearm for 10 years upon conviction and undergo adverse consequences in obtaining or maintaining a state issued license.
13. Battery Expungement
A conviction for simple battery is eligible for expungement under California PC § 1203.4 so long as you completed your period of probation and obeyed all orders from the court. An expungement requires a specific petition and proof of service. A court hearing will be scheduled and upon approval, the court will dismiss the case pursuant to the 1203.4 statute. As a result of the court’s order, you will be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from your battery conviction. For more information in expunging your battery conviction, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers.
14. What are Examples of Battery?
• Punching someone else in the face
• Pushing someone else against the wall
• Slapping another person
• Throwing a rock and striking another
• Breaking a bottle over someone’s head
• Hitting someone with a baseball bat or striking object
15. Free Criminal Defense Consultation
If you’ve been arrested, charged, or are under investigation for assault PC 240 or battery PC 242, contact an experienced Orange County violent crimes attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.