Assault and Battery: What's the Difference Under California Law?

The phrase “assault and battery” doesn’t refer to a single offense, but two. The two words are often used together because in most cases, offenders are charged with both. However, under California law assault and battery are two separate crimes – it’s possible to commit one without committing the other.

Assault in California

California state law defines assault as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” This means you don’t have to actually follow through with a threat to be charged with assault. You simply have to attempt to injure someone and show you have the ability to do so. Assault can include brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner, throwing something at another person, or pointing a gun at someone.

In California, assault is usually punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 and/or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months. Under certain circumstances, the fines can be increased to $2,000 and/or one year in county jail. This includes situations when the offense is:

  • Committed against the person of a custodial officer;
  • Committed on school or park property against any person; or
  • Committed against any person on the property of, or on a motor vehicle of, a public transportation provider.

The fines can also be increased when the victim is:

  • A peace officer, school employee, or highway worker engaged in the performance of their duties,
  • A member of the United States Armed Forces
  • A juror in a civil or criminal action that the defendant is a part of.

Assault Involving Firearms

Committing assault using a firearm or other weapon could cost you up to $10,000 and/or up to 12 years in state prison.

Battery in California

California state law defines battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. This can include restraining someone or touching them in an inappropriate manner.

Battery is usually punishable by fines of up to $2,000 and/or up to six months in county jail. However, in certain situations, you could be facing up to $10,000 in fines and four years in state prison.

If the victim dies as a result of their injuries, the charges could be bumped up to manslaughter or murder.

Defend Yourself Against Assault and Battery Charges in Orange County CA

If you’ve been arrested and charged with assault and battery in Orange County, CA, it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your rights. The first step is to call the law office of Orange County, CA assault and battery attorney Jim Tanizaki.

A former Orange County DA, turned criminal defense attorney, Jim is familiar with the tactics the prosecutor will use to get their conviction. Depending on the circumstances in your case, possible defense strategies can include:

  • You were acting in self-defense, or to defend another person or your property
  • You didn’t intend to threaten or hurt anyone
  • Your threat was not credible
  • You had consent from the victim to touch them
  • Mistaken identity/False accusations

Jim’s unique background and extensive legal knowledge and expertise often result in reduced or dropped charges for his clients.

Contact the law office of Jim Tanizaki through our website or call us at (714) 655-7633 to schedule a free initial consultation with a leading Orange County, CA assault and battery defense lawyer.