Assault and Battery Defense Attorney Serving Ventura
Even a seemingly minor altercation can result in serious consequences if you are charged with assault and battery. A bar fight, a dispute with a customer, a bout with someone who rear-ends your car, or even an altercation with a friend or family member can lead to heavy criminal charges depending on the circumstances, the witnesses, and the other parties involved. Assault and battery are considered violent crimes that can involve significant criminal penalties, including serious prison time, depending on the case. If you have been arrested or charged with assault and/or battery, you need to contact a dedicated California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your life and your freedom are at stake.
What is the difference between assault and battery?
You often hear assault and battery mentioned in the same sentence, and they are often charged together, but they actually refer to two separate crimes. An assault is an unlawful attempt, combined with the present ability, to do violent injury on the person of another. A battery is the willful and unlawful use of force on another person. A battery is a completed assault. Stated another way, an assault is an attempted battery.
If you are accused of physically hurting someone else, the prosecution will often charge you with both assault and battery. Words alone do not typically constitute an assault; there must be action and intent behind those words. There are exceptions, such as “terroristic threats.” You may be guilty of assault if you, for example, threaten someone with a gun (even a toy gun, if you intended the defendant to believe the gun was real and they did, in fact, fear violence).
Battery, in turn, requires actual unlawful touching. A battery can range from a slap, grab, or offensive bumping to punching, kicking, beating someone with an object, or using a weapon such as a gun or a knife.
Numerous statutes deal with specific types of assault and battery, such as assault with a deadly weapon, assault with a firearm, assault at a specific location (such as a park or school), or assault on a specific person (such as a spouse, cohabitant or a peace officer). Most of these statutes are “wobblers.” This means that they can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
A “simple” assault or battery charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and up to six months in county jail. More serious forms, such as assault with a deadly weapon, can lead to felony charges with potential prison sentences.
Defending against assault and battery charges
There are a variety of defenses that may be available in your assault and battery case. A seasoned California assault and battery defense attorney can assess your charges and the circumstances of the alleged crime and help you identify your best defenses. Common defenses to assault and battery charges include:
- Self-Defense. If a reasonable person in the given circumstances would feel threatened by an attack, then the person can use any force reasonably necessary to protect themselves and prevent injury. The level of self-defense must be proportionate to the threat: If someone is threatening to push you down, you cannot pull out a knife and stab them in turn. If you escalate a fight to now include the threat of deadly injury, you may lose your self-defense argument.
- Defense of Others. Defense of others is similar to self-defense except that the defendant’s act of violence was meant to protect someone other than themselves. Often this defense arises when a family member or friend was threatened. Depending on the jurisdiction, you may be able to assert this defense even if you were mistaken about the threat, as long as the mistake was reasonable. In some jurisdictions, there must have been an actual threat of violence to invoke this defense.
- If a person has the consent of another to engage in violent activity, then the defendant may not be culpable. Physicians can defend against battery charges by pointing to patient consent for surgery. Sports are also a common area where consent precludes assault and battery charges: If you are playing football, basketball, or hockey, everyone involved understands that there will be incidental or even aggressive physical contact involved. As long as your conduct was within the normal bounds of the activity, you should not be guilty of unlawful assault and battery. If your conduct is outrageous and outside the normal bounds of the game, such as intentionally hitting a player in the head with a hockey stick or punching another basketball player in the head, then you may not be able to rely on this defense.
- It is important to note that words alone (except where those words convey a reasonable fear of imminent harm) are never sufficient to justify an assault or battery. No insult is so severe as to justify attacking another person. Provocation may be used, however, to mitigate other criminal charges. Murder, for example, may be reduced to voluntary manslaughter if the defendant can show that they were provoked on the spot into homicide rather than planning it ahead of time.
Reach out ASAP for Help with Assault and Battery Charges in Ventura County
Seasoned Ventura criminal defense lawyer Paul Tyler has handled every type of assault and battery in his career. Each case is different, and Mr. Tyler will tailor his representation to the facts and circumstances of your case and your specific needs. To learn more, please call Paul Tyler at 805-889-9000. He will answer your call personally. You will not be required to go through a secretary, paralegal or associate attorney. Call today for a free consultation.