Violent crimes are some of the most serious, and courts take them seriously because they often involve the welfare of innocent people. The state of California has 4 different classifications of assault and battery charges, each of which comes with its own penalties. The severity of the penalties for such crimes are based on whether the crime was aggravated and how serious the nature of the crime is. Although the penalties can be serious, there are certain defenses that can be used to help lower a person’s chance of conviction.
How Are Assault and Battery Different?
The state of California classifies assault and battery as two different crimes. Battery charges are not always linked with assault charges and can be charged on their own. Assault is defined as intentionally attempting to injure another person or making a threatening statement against them that would cause them to reasonably believe they’re going to be attacked. Battery is defined as touching or hitting another person or anything connected to them in an unprovoked or unwelcomed manner. Assault does not always result in harm for the other party, but battery always includes the use of physical force.
The four different types of assault and battery crimes a person can be charged with in California are:
- Simple assault
- Simple battery
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Aggravated Battery
In the state of California, simple assault is making an illegal threat or attempt to cause physical harm against someone paired with the ability to follow through. Anyone convicted of this crime will face a misdemeanor and receive up to 6 months in jail as well as a fine of $1,000.
Simple battery consists of intentionally touching another person in an offensive, forceful manner. A person can be charged with simple battery even if they do not cause actual harm or injury to the person they made physical contact with. The only parameters for simple battery are touching someone who did not want to receive that touch. Anyone charged with simple battery in California will be facing a misdemeanor which could lead to 6 months in jail and a fine of $2,000.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Assault becomes a more serious charge when it involves a deadly weapon. Any assault that is committed with the use of deadly weapons, such as guns, or with enough force to result in severe injuries could result in an assault with a deadly weapon charge. For example, shooting a gun in someone’s direction during an argument would be considered assault with a deadly weapon. However, the deadly weapon does not necessarily have to be used for the charge to be made. The threat simply has to be made with a deadly weapon in hand.
Assault with a deadly weapon can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charge, based on the specific circumstances of the crime in question. Assault with a deadly weapon that isn’t a gun is charged as a misdemeanor with potential penalties of a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Assault with a deadly weapon that is a firearm can only be charged as a misdemeanor if the firearm isn’t a semiautomatic, assault, or machine gun. That charge comes with a mandatory 6-month jail sentence. When the firearm is one of those more powerful guns, it will result in felony charges, which could result in up to 9 years in prison.
Battery becomes aggravated when the victim endured serious bodily injuries instead of just bodily injuries. The state of California allows serious bodily injuries to be determined by juries on a case-by-case basis but suffice it to say that any injury that presents great risk to the victim will be considered serious. Aggravated battery is a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant will face a year-long jail sentence. If charged as a felony, they may be in prison for up to 4 years.
Defenses for Violent Crime Charges
Anyone facing assault or battery charges will need a strong defensive strategy for when their case is heard in court. The unique circumstances of each case will be considered, but there are some common defenses people in such situations may be able to use, including:
- Self-defense: Self-defense is commonly used in assault and batter cases. The defendant has to prove that there was a threat of harm against them and that they had a perceived fear of physical harm. They must also prove that they were not the aggressor and that they could not have escaped the situation instead of committing an assault or battery.
- Defending another person: It is possible for someone charged with assault or battery to claim that they were defending another person. They must prove that they perceived a real threat of bodily harm to the person they were defending.
- Defending property: A person facing assault or battery charges may be able to claim that they were defending their own property when they committed the crime.
We Are on Your Side
At The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch, we want to help you fight for your freedom. If you are facing assault or battery charges and need experienced legal counsel, contact us today. Our attorney has more than 20 years of experience representing clients facing criminal charges and will fight aggressively to help you defend your rights. We will not take your case lightly. Contact us today at (559) 484-2112 or through our online contact form.