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.
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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) 361-3068. The consultation is free.