Many people are familiar with “assault and battery” through popular television programs such as “Law & Order,” “Boston Legal,” “Suits,” etc. Some people may even believe that assault and battery are one and the same. Not so. It is important to understand that these are two wholly separate acts that just routinely occur in the same incident.
Under California law, assault is the intentional attempt to physically harm another person, or a menacing or threatening act or statement causing another person to believe they are about to be physically harmed. On the other hand, battery is the intentional and unlawful use of force or violence against another person.
The key distinction is physical contact. If you are acting aggressively and a person legitimately fears that they will be harmed, then you can be charged with assault. If you are acting aggressively and ultimately wind up attacking another person, you can charged with assault and battery.
But wait, the legal plot thickens.
Different Types of Assault
Not all assaults are the same and, depending on the circumstances, can result in felony criminal charges. For example, attempting to punch someone, but failing to make contact, during a heated argument at a bar would likely be considered a simple assault.
However, if you attempt to assault a healthcare practitioner like a doctor, nurse, or first responder who is providing emergency treatment, you could face stiffer penalties, including a felony criminal charge. Other simple assaults that could rise to the level of a felony include:
- Assaulting a corrections officer at a jail or prison;
- Assaulting a school district police officer; and
- Assaulting a juror.
Like Assault, Different Types of Battery
If you hit someone with your fist during an argument, you are likely to be charged with simple battery. But like assault, the seriousness of the criminal charge depends on who was attacked. Striking a healthcare provider or emergency responder (e.g. firefighter, lifeguard, animal control officer, doctor, nurse, etc.) you could face an elevated criminal charge, including a felony criminal charge.
Defending You Against Assault and/or Battery Charges
If you or a loved one is being charged with assault, battery, or assault and battery, speak to an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. There are ways to defend against these charges. A common defense is if you did not intend to inflict harm. To be charged with assault or battery, your actions must be intentional. This means that if you accidentally struck someone at a bar, nightclub, or elsewhere. In addition, if you struck someone and did not know, or should have known, that they were a first responder or healthcare provider, you can fight the elevated criminal charge since you must have intended to cause harm and known the person’s role during the altercation.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Getting charged with assault, battery, or assault and battery is quite serious and can result in significant punishment, including jail time. Do not take this on alone. The Law Offices of Peter Berlin is dedicated to helping people charged with almost any kind of criminal activity, including assault and battery. With nearly 20 years of experience, we know what it takes to provide a strong defense against assault and battery charges. Contact our office today at (310) 289-5418 for a free consultation.