How to Defend Assault and Battery Charges

Updated: Apr 22

How To Defend Against Assault and Battery Charges In California


Assault, as described by California Penal Code (PC) 240, is a misdemeanor that includes instilling fear of imminent violence (whether attempted or threatened). Battery (California Penal Code 242) is a much more serious crime that includes the use of force or intimidation. Notice that in some situations, battery is a "wobbler," meaning it can be charged as a crime or a felony. A Criminal Defense Lawyer may be able to help you with the complicated details of your case.


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Depending on the form of attack or battery, there are different degrees of severity. Charges of simple assault and battery, for example, are much less severe than charges of aggravated assault and battery. Keep in mind that if a person is seriously hurt, a simple battery can quickly escalate to an aggravated battery. California assesses seriousness based on the severity of the injury. Civil responsibility for assault and battery torts is also a factor to consider, so we'll stick to criminal liability for now.


What is Characterized as an Assault?


Since assault is often confused with battery, finding facts about it can be difficult. So, what does it mean to be assaulted? If you are physically assaulted, it means that the following is true:

  • It creates an imminent danger of Aggression or coercion.

  • They either do or say something that makes you feel fearful or apprehensive right away.

  • They acted knowing that their acts could hurt or force the other individual.

The only difference between an assault and a battery is that you didn't succeed in inflicting violence. Here's an example of a simple attack misdemeanor:

A quarrel has erupted between two people. One individual raises their fist and tries to punch the other, instilling fear and anxiety in the other. Or this same person raises their fist and swings it at the other person, but the other person avoids it, so there is no physical aggression, only a threat.

Assault (Simple)


In California, swinging at others during a heated confrontation (and missing) is considered a clear attack if the intended victim was within striking distance. While threats to hit someone with an object are not considered assault unless they are followed by an act or behavior that shows intent to carry out the threat, threats to hit someone with an object are considered assault when they are accompanied by an action that shows intent to carry out the threat. When it comes to assault charges, the identity of the victim plays a big role in deciding the seriousness of the crime and the potential penalty.


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Assaults on many healthcare professionals who offer emergency services outside of a hospital or clinic, as well as assaults on many public employees who are doing their duties, carry harsher punishments than mere assaults, as long as the offender knew or should have known that the victim was a healthcare professional or a public worker doing his job. Among the healthcare professionals and government employees are:

  • Nurses and doctors

  • Paramedics and emergency medical technicians

  • Employees at the school

  • A group of firefighters

  • Lifeguards are people who protect people from damage.

  • Officers in charge of animal welfare

  • Staff on the highway

  • Members of the US military, when the attack is inspired by their military service.

  • Employees of public transit

  • Employees of the probation service