What is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

What is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?One of the most confusing elements of criminal law concerns knowing the difference between assault and battery. Many people believe the two crimes are the same, with defendants receiving a charge for assault and battery for the same crime. However, like most states, the State of California defines each crime differently.

Let’s remove some of the common misconceptions about assault and battery by learning the difference between the two crimes.

How Does California Define Assault?

According to the legal language that is part of California Penal Code 240, “An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” The key word is “attempt” and the key phrase is “present ability.” It does matter if a suspect carried out a violent act or the victim received one or more injuries. What matters is a suspect had the present ability to attempt a crime of violence. Since an ‘attempt” is an essential element of an assault charge, the crime can be difficult to prove because of the burden of proof called “Beyond a reasonable doubt.”

What is the Punishment for Assault in California?

A defendant in a simple assault case can face a punishment that includes up to six months in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000. As a more serious criminal charge, assault with a deadly weapon carries a punishment of up to one year in county jail for a misdemeanor conviction or between two and four years in state prison for a felony conviction. A defendant might also pay of fine of a maximum of $1,000 for a misdemeanor conviction and a fine not to exceed $10,000 for a felony conviction. Since California considers assault to represent a violent crime, a conviction in an assault case can result in a “strike” against a defendant’s criminal record.

How Does California Define Battery?

Also considered a violent crime under California criminal statutes, battery is a different type of crime when compared to assault. California Penal Code 242 defines battery as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” Although assault is an attempt to commit violence, a suspect committing battery has carried out an act of violence. Since both types of violent crimes can happen at the same time because of an attempt of violence and an act of violence, a defendant can face charges for both assault and battery.

What is the Punishment for Battery in California?

Battery is considered a misdemeanor that carries a sentence that includes a fine of no more than $2,000 and/or incarceration in county jail for no more than six months. Aggravated battery is the use of force on a victim that produces serious, if not life-threatening injuries. A charge of aggravated battery can lead to a county jail sentence of up to one year (misdemeanor) or a state prison sentence between two and four years (felony). The defendant can also pay a fine not to exceed $1,000 for a misdemeanor conviction or a fine for a felony conviction of no more than $10,000. An aggravated battery charge can also add a “strike” to a defendant’s criminal record.

How Should You Handle an Assault or Battery Charge?

If you face an assault and/or a battery charge, you need to act with a sense of urgency to ensure you receive the legal protections that are granted under California law. Call the Chambers Law Firm at {phone} to schedule a free initial consultation.

Call Us Today