Torrance Assault and Battery Lawyer

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Assault and Battery Defense Attorney in Torrance, CA

While assault and battery commonly go hand in hand, they are actually two separate crimes in California. Both, however, have serious penalties if you are convicted. Additionally, assault and battery are often included in other criminal charges that all stem from one single incident.

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side throughout the process can be the best way to prevent a charge of assault or battery from turning into a costly conviction.

Assault In California

California Penal Code 240 says that an assault is committed when someone makes an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury to someone else and has the present ability to make it happen.

A conviction for assault is a misdemeanor in California and comes with a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.

Battery In California

Battery, on the other hand, is something more than an assault. California Penal Code 242 says that battery is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence against someone else. A conviction for battery in California is also a misdemeanor that can carry up to six months in jail, but the fine for battery is $2,000.

The Difference Between Assault And Battery

The difference between the crimes of assault and battery in California is largely based on whether an attempted battery was successful. Assault is the attempt to use force, battery is the actual use of it. Essentially, assault is an attempted battery, while a battery is a successful assault.

For example, imagine someone who is just about to get punched. Before any punches are thrown, there is neither an assault nor a battery. However, when the attacker brings back their fist and begins to send it at the other person’s head, an assault has occurred: The attempt to commit a violent injury is there, and the means to do it are at hand.

However, because there has not yet been any contact, there is still no battery. The battery only occurs in the instant that the punch is landed. If the punch completely misses, no battery has happened, though the assault has already been completed.

Examples Of Assault And Battery

Not all instances of assault and battery involve people throwing punches. Courts in California have deemed the “use of force” that amounts to battery to apply to even the smallest of touches. Pushing someone on the sidewalk, slapping their wrist or even blowing smoke into their face can all constitute enough force for battery.

Additionally, courts in California have a broad interpretation of when force can impact a person. Battery may be committed when you touch someone through their clothing, when you knock something out of their hand or even if they were sitting on a bicycle and you were to kick the bike. Even if you never actually make contact with their body, you are still considered to have contacted their “person,” which is enough for battery.

This broad interpretation of someone’s “person” and of the “use of force” also applies to an assault. Trying to knock something out of someone else’s hand or trying to kick their bike while they are sitting on it can both be an assault.

Defending Against Charges Of Assault And Battery

A conviction for assault or battery carries significant penalties and can put a blemish on your criminal history. A criminal charge is not a conviction, however, and there are arguments that you can present to defend yourself against these accusations and prevent them from turning into a conviction.


One of the most important defenses you can raise is that you did not mean to commit battery. Both assault and battery involve intentional acts, so you cannot commit either one accidentally or negligently. While lowering your shoulder and pushing into someone on the sidewalk can be an assault and battery, accidentally bumping into someone while turning a corner on a city street cannot.

Proving that the contact was the result of a mistake and that you did not intend for it to happen, then, can be an effective defense against a criminal charge of assault or battery.

Disciplining A Child

There are exceptions to California’s assault and battery laws. One exception involves disciplining your child, which cannot amount to assault or battery. Therefore, if you were reprimanding your child in public and suddenly find yourself fighting a charge of assault and battery, you can defend yourself by showing that you were disciplining your child. However, any discipline has to be reasonable under the circumstances. It is not a defense to injure a child by claiming it was for discipline.

Self-Defense Or Defense Of Others

Committing assault or battery can be justified when it is done in self-defense or to defend someone else. For this to be an effective defense against a criminal charge of assault and battery, though, you must show that you reasonably believed that you or someone else was in imminent danger, that committing the assault or battery was necessary to prevent that danger and that you used no greater force than was reasonably necessary.

Assault And Battery Explanation

When Tempers Fly, California Assault Charges Can Result

Sometimes, it doesn’t take a lot for emotions to heighten and tempers to flare. These types of situations are especially prevalent when crowds are involved.

Take Black Friday as an example. Every year, holiday shoppers prep and plan for the day of the year when retailers slash prices significantly in preparation for the gift-giving season. Known as Black Friday, because it is the time of year when retailers are in the “black” regarding revenue, this day is characterized by crowds, lines and a lot of sleep-deprived shoppers. It is also a time when assault among shoppers is reported.

In 2011, a story hit the news after a woman in Porter Ranch, California, allegedly used pepper spray to improve her chances of obtaining one of the hot deals of the day at Walmart. Supposedly, about 20 people, including women and children, were hurt when the woman sprayed the crowd. It was reported that such injuries as bruises and chemical irritation, were sustained. The incident occurred as shoppers waited to purchase the Xbox video console and Wii video games.

Assault And Battery Charges

While it is not clear whether this particular woman allegedly involved in the Walmart incident will be charged by police, it does highlight that things can quickly become escalated. It also shows that people, who may not have had past run-ins with the law, could still face criminal charges.

In California, if you are found guilty of assault or battery, you could be looking at jail time. But that’s not all. Your employment, both current and future, could be at stake.

Assault and battery charges are serious and should not be taken lightly. If you have been accused of assault with a deadly weapon or some other charge, you need to talk with a Torrance criminal lawyer immediately. An attorney will be able to explain your rights.

For more information or answers to your questions, contact Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, today at 310-375-5858. The consultation is free.

California Assault and Battery Crimes

Assault and battery charges can be classified in two ways: misdemeanor and felony. People are often charged with a felony when the assault or battery results in serious injuries or is carried out using weapons, such as a baseball bat. The misdemeanor categorization is used when the incident, such as a fistfight, results only in minor injuries.

The punishment for a conviction of assault as a misdemeanor can include up to six months in county jail, probation and a maximum fine of $1,000. If convicted of assault as a felony, then punishment can include up to four years in state prison, probation and heavier fines.

Common types of assault and battery include:

  • Sexual battery (Penal Code 243.4)
  • Battery on a police officer (Penal Codes 243(b) and 243(c)(2))
  • Assault with a deadly weapon (Penal Code 245(a)(1))
  • Battery against a spouse (Penal Code 243(e)(1))

If you or a family member has been charged with assault or battery in California or you are a person of interest in an assault and battery investigation, contact Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, Torrance, Los Angeles and Orange County criminal defense lawyers today at 310-375-5858 for a free case review.

Charged With Assault or Battery in Torrance, CA? What You Should Do if You Are Accused

When you are accused of assault in Torrance, it can be a very confusing time. You may be unclear about the charges against you or wondering what defense you might have that will keep you out of jail. There is one thing that you can be certain about, and that is the prosecution’s intent to make you pay for your alleged crime.

Understand Assault As Defined By California Law

“An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another,” according to California Penal Code 240.

Based on California law, there are two main components of the definition of assault that you need to understand. First, for you to be found guilty of assault, you have to have “attempted” to commit the crime. Second, you have to have the “ability” to do it.

It is important to recognize, too, that a distinction exists between assault and battery – they are not one and the same. Under California Penal Code 242, battery is defined as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” Battery is simply an assault that is executed.

Possible Defenses For Assault

In California, if you are found guilty of assault, you could be looking at time behind bars, a substantial fine and other penalties. Therefore, you need to take a close look at the possible defenses to this crime. For example, if you can show that you did not have the “present ability” to commit the act, you may not be found guilty. Your defense lawyer might also be able to argue that you acted in self-defense or had no intent to carry out the crime. There are other possible defenses that should be discussed with a knowledgeable Torrance assault attorney.

Get Help Today

An assault charge on your criminal record can be detrimental to your future. If you or a family member has been charged with assault in Torrance, you need to take action immediately. At Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, we have extensive experience defending the rights of individuals in Torrance, Los Angeles County and the surrounding areas. Robert Ernenwein is a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney and will utilize his specialized knowledge and experience to benefit our client in their cases.