In Riverside, if you commit an act of physical violence against someone else, you will face charges. If the courts charge you for assault and battery, it may lead to severe punishment if proven guilty. If you find yourself in this situation, it is prudent to seek a criminal defense attorney’s service. A lawyer who is well versed with California assault and battery laws will help you have the charges against you dropped or reduced.
At Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we have represented many defendants facing assault and battery charges for many years. Rest assured that we will do everything in our power to give you the best legal counsel and representation for a favorable outcome. If you or your loved one is facing assault and battery charges, contact us today.
Definition of Assault Per California Law
According to the Penal Code section 232, assault is defined as an act that makes another person fear that they are in imminent danger of physical harm. You do not have to harm another person to be guilty of assault. You will be charged with assault if the defendant feels you can harm them through your actions.
An Example of Assault
You are walking down a dimly lit street, and as you approach a corner, you notice a man walking towards you with a baseball bat in hand. You cannot turn back as you are only a few yards away from the stranger. As you approach each other, you become fearful as you do not know what will unfold. But as you pass each other, you realize the stranger is holding a walking stick, not a bat. In this case, the stranger is not guilty of assault because none of his actions posed any threat to cause you bodily harm.
But as you pass each other, you realize that indeed it is a baseball bat. The stranger swings it at you and misses your head by a few inches. In this case, the stranger is guilty of assault, although he did not hit you because he intended to cause you physical harm by intentionally swinging the baseball bat at you. His actions caused you to become reasonably fearful that he will cause you bodily harm.
What Battery is According to California Law
In California, battery is defined as touching a person willfully against their will in both an offensive and harmful manner. When you touch another person to cause harm, you are guilty of battery. For example, if you are involved in a confrontation with your friend and hit them in the cheek, you are guilty of battery. You will also be guilty of battery if you touch another person through their clothing or by using an object like a rod.
Assault with Deadly Weapon
In California, a victim can accuse you of assault with a deadly weapon when you use a dangerous weapon to threaten them or when you cause serious bodily harm to a victim. You cannot be charged for assault with a deadly weapon if you only use threatening words without action. If a person shouts, "I will shoot you!" And do not have a gun, you cannot charge them with assault. The case would be different if they shouted the same words while pointing a gun in your direction. It does not matter if the gun is loaded or not. Even if it is a toy gun, the defendant has committed assault with a deadly weapon because they have caused you reasonable fear.
In Riverside, if a person points a dangerous weapon like a gun or a knife in your direction and you see the weapon and become fearful of imminent physical harm, they have committed assault even if the defendant did not issue a verbal threat.
Penalties for Assault with Deadly Weapon
The court charges assault with deadly weapon as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If the assault with deadly weapon is charged as a misdemeanor, you will be sentenced to one year in a county jail. When the offense is charged as a felony, you can serve up to four years in a state prison.
Defenses to Assault with Deadly Weapon
You can present a number of defenses when a plaintiff accuses you of assault with a deadly weapon. You can state that the weapon you used was not lethal. You can also state that you did not commit the action willfully or that you acted in self-defense.
Assault with Caustic Chemicals
According to Penal Code 244 of California law, it is an offence to use flammable or caustic chemical to cause injury to a person. If you willfully and maliciously place a chemical, vitriol, corrosive or flammable substance in such a way that it can cause injury or disfigure another person, you can be charged with assault with caustic chemicals. According to California law, a caustic chemical is any substance which can corrode or burn living tissue.
Penalties for Assault with Caustic Chemicals
Unlike assault with deadly weapons, assault with caustic chemicals is always charged as a felony. Penalties for assault with caustic chemicals include imprisonment in a California state prison for two, three or four years. The court can also fine you a maximum of $10,000 if you are found guilty of the crime. The court can also sentence you to probation.
If you are sentenced to probation, you will still have to serve a one-year jail term and pay a fine. The probation also has some conditions. You have to meet regularly with your probation officer, pay restitution to the victim, do community labor and keep away from the victim.
Defenses to Assault with Caustic Chemicals
One of the defenses you can present against a charge of assault with caustic chemicals is that you did not act willfully or maliciously. You can cite that the injury was as a result of an accident. You can also argue that you did not intend to injure the plaintiff. For example, you might have thought you threw water at your colleague but you did not know that the bottle contained corrosive substance. As a result, you burned your colleague’s face. Although you acted maliciously and willfully, you did not intend to burn their face as you did not know the bottle contained a corrosive substance.
You can also state that you acted in self-defense. However, in order to present self defense as a defense, there are requirements you must prove. First, you had reasonable belief that you were in imminent danger of being injured, killed or touched unlawfully. You had to use force to prevent the occurrence of the imminent danger and you did not use excess force to defend yourself.
Assault on A Public Official, Battery
According to Penal Code 217.1 of the California law, you can be charged with assault on a public official if you assault them because of their official position or in the aim of preventing them from carrying out their official duty. In order to be charged with assault on a public official, the prosecution must prove that you committed the assault against a public official or a member of their immediate family.
According to Penal Code 217.1 of California law, a public official is the President or the Vice President of the United States, Judge, Juror, elected official and other public officers. You will also be charged with assault on a public official if you assault the immediate family of any public official. Immediate family includes their children, spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings or step-children.
Penalties for Assault on A Public Official
According to California Law, assault on a public official can either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. The penalties of misdemeanor in relation to assault on a public official include probation, one-year term in a county jail, and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000.
If the court charges you with a felony in relation to assault on a public officer, you can face the following penalties. A felony probation, you can serve up to sixteen months, two years, or three years in a county jail. A fine not exceeding $10,000. You could also serve time in prison and pay the fine.
Defenses Against Assault on a Public Official
You can use lack of present ability as a defense against charges of assault on a public official. You can state that you did not have any weapon to cause any harm to the public official. You can also state that the public official was stronger, larger or younger than you and you did not have the ability to cause them any harm.
You can state that you did not intend to prevent the public official from performing their official duties or as a retaliation for being a public official. You could also state that you battered the public official in self defense or the defense of others whom you believed were in imminent danger of physical harm.
Elements of Battery with Serious Bodily Injury
According to penal code section 242 of California law, aggravated battery is battery that results in serious bodily harm to the plaintiff. Serious bodily harm causes serious physical impairment of the victim, such as a concussion or a broken leg or hand.
In California, battery is defined as touching a person willfully against their will in a manner that is both offensive and harmful. When you touch another person to cause harm, you are guilty of battery. For example, if you get into a confrontation with your friend and you hit them in the cheek, you are guilty of battery. You will also be guilty of battery if you touch another person through their clothing or by using an object like a rod. According to California law, if you willingly and forcefully knock something out of a victim’s hand, you can be charged with battery.
Penalties for Battery with Serious Bodily Harm
A wobbler according to California law is a battery charge which can either be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. When your battery case is judged as a misdemeanor, the maximum time you can serve in county jail is one year. You can also be fined a maximum of $1,000 or serve the jail term and pay the penalty. If the court rules the battery charge as a felony, you can serve in prison for two, three or four years. You can also be fined a maximum of $10,000 or pay both the fine and serve time in jail.
Defenses for Battery with Serious Bodily Harm
However, a defendant must prove three aspects in court to prove battery charges against you. You can argue that the injuries you caused the defendant are not severe. You can also state that you caused the injury as a result of an accident and you did not have any ill intentions towards the plaintiff. You can also argue that you acted in self-defense.
You Can Be Charged with Battery even for Non-Physical Contact
At times, there doesn't need to be physical contact for you to be charged with battery. When there isn't physical contact, the first aspect of battery is force set in motion by the defendant. The second is when a defendant uses an item closely associated with the plaintiff to cause harm. For instance, if a defendant pulls a trigger and the bullet is released towards you, that is ground for battery charges. Although the defendant did not physically touch you, their action of pulling the trigger caused the bullet to come into contact with your body.
In Riverside, you can be charged with battery by acting in a manner by which you know you will cause harm to a victim. A great example is pulling a chair from under someone as they are just about to sit down. You are sure the person will hit the ground where they might suffer harm by such action. Although no physical contact between you and the victim occurs, your actions can cause harm.
Battery Against A Peace Officer
Should you be convicted of battery against a peace officer when performing their duties, you will be charged with committing a felony. However, the battery will be charged as a felony if you knew the person was a law enforcement officer during the altercation.
Penalties for Battery Against a Peace Officer
If you are a known offender or have criminal charges pending against you, you will receive a harsher penalty for assault. According to penal code section 243 of the California law, you can be sentenced to a maximum of 3 years in the county or state prison. A maximum fine of $10,000 or probation of up to three years.
Defenses for Battery on a Peace Officer
You can state that you acted in self-defense when you battered the peace officer. However, in order to present self-defense as a defense, there are requirements you must prove. First, you must prove you had reasonable belief that you were in imminent danger of being injured, killed or touched unlawfully. You had to use force to prevent the occurrence of the imminent danger and you did not use excess force to defend yourself.
Defenses You Can Present for Assault and Battery Charges
An assault and battery case can be simple, complex, or in between. There are a few defenses you can present on an assault and battery charge. These include:
One of the most used defenses against an assault and battery charge is self-defense. However, to prove self-defense, you must show that there was an unlawful force or threat against yourself, and you had good reason to fear that the victim was going to harm you. You must also prove that you did provoke the victim and that you could not escape or retreat from the situation.
For instance, you are at a friend's house, and a stranger walks in and starts raining blows on you without provocation. In the bid to stop the rain of blows, you strike the intruder and escape. In such a case, you can cite self-defense. However, the case is different if another friend of yours enters the house and starts hurling insults. You become angry and retaliate in kind by hurling similarly hurtful insults. As a result, you engage in a fight, and you hit your friend. In such a scenario, it won't be easy to cite self-defense as a defense.
You should also note that the amount of force you use in self-defense should be proportional to the threat. If a person attacks you and you can subdue them, you should not go ahead to beat them on the head with a rock until they become unconscious. Subduing and restraining them is enough.
If you weigh 250 pounds and are attacked by a girl who weighs 125 pounds, you should use the right amount of force to defend yourself. You can still be charged with assault or battery if you use excessive force against the 125-pound girl, for example, by strangling her until she passes out.
When Defending Others
You can defend yourself in an assault charge by claiming you were protecting another person. The limitations that apply to self-defense also apply to this defense. Additionally, you must prove that the person or persons you were defending were in imminent danger of being attacked by the victim.
You Could Argue Performance of Duty as a Defense Against Assault and Battery Charges
Certain professionals have the legal authority to use reasonable force while performing their duties. A law enforcement officer might be required to use reasonable force to apprehend a criminal. Some establishments like night clubs and restaurants have the authority to forcefully evict with reasonable force a person who is disturbing other patrons in the establishment. Similarly, a judge has the legal authority to order a person who is causing a disturbance in the courtroom to be forcefully evicted.
In such incidences, should the victim charge the judge, the restaurant, or the law enforcement officer of assault and battery, the defendant can use performance of duty as a defense against the charges. When a person is in authority, for example, a teacher or a parent, they might discipline their child. However, as a person in authority, you should not do so with excessive force or cruelty.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove This Type of Crime
According to California law penal code section 242, you can be charged with battery if you touch someone against their will even if you did not have the intention of causing them harm. You only need to have the intent to contact the victim. However, accidentally knocking someone down does not constitute battery since you had no intention of doing so.
The second aspect which qualifies an assault and battery charge according to California law is touching a person willfully. For instance, you might be walking on a busy street and knock down a man who breaks his leg. Since your actions were not willful, the victim cannot accuse you of battery. But, should you have a confrontation with the victim and knock them down, you can be charged with battery.
Touching in A Harmful or Offensive Manner
The third aspect of battery, according to California law, is if you touch a person to cause them harm or in an offensive manner. If your touch is disrespectful, rude, violent, or angry, you can be charged with assault. You should note that the contact must not be harmful to constitute a battery charge. If you touch a person offensively, you are liable for a battery charge.
For instance, you might engage in a heated argument with a stranger, and you become outraged and pour water on the victim. In such a case, you can be accused of battery, although the water did not cause any harm to the plaintiff.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
You might feel that you have been unjustly arrested and charged for assault or battery. Because of this, you should hire an attorney who understands California criminal law to handle your case with the urgency and dedication it deserves. If you face assault and battery charges in Riverside, do not hesitate to contact Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm at (951) 946-6366 for legal help. Fortunately, our lawyers work around-the-clock, so get in touch with our attorneys today!