Top Assault & Battery Defense Attorney in Huntington Beach, Orange County
Assault and battery are some of the most commonly used terms to describe violent offenses. They are two different crimes with each having distinct elements of their own but commonly go hand in hand. Depending on the nature of the offense you commit, you can be charged with either assault or battery or both.
If you are facing assault or battery charges in Orange County, it is important to seek legal help as soon as you can. A conviction can adversely impact your life in more ways than you can imagine. The criminal defense attorneys at Paladin Legal Defenders have more than 60 years of combined experience in defending clients against a wide range of criminal charges – including assault and battery. We can make sure your constitutionally guaranteed rights are not violated by the prosecution and will fight tirelessly to protect your interests.
What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?
Section 240 of the California Penal Code defines assault as the unlawful attempt with present ability to injure a person. Section 242 of the California Penal Code defines battery as the unlawful and willful use of violence upon a person.
As you might notice, the difference between assault and battery is that the former is the attempt to injure someone while the latter is the act of injuring someone. In other words, you can be charged with assault for merely attempting to injure someone – even if you do not make any physical contact. On the other hand, you can be charged with battery only if you make physical contact with someone against their wish.
What Is Simple Battery?
If you make unwanted physical contact with another person, you can be charged with simple battery in Orange County. The key thing to be noted here is that physical contact does not necessarily have to cause pain or physical injuries to the victim. If the contact in question was rude, offensive, harmful, or violent in nature, the prosecutor might be justified in bringing simple battery charges against you.
For example, if you get into an argument with someone and shove them away in the heat of the moment, you can be charged with simple battery – even if the person did not suffer any injuries.
It should also be noted that the definition of physical contact – in the context of assault and battery laws – includes offensive contact like spitting. If you spit at someone in disgust or anger, you can be charged with simple battery – even if you do not lay a finger on them.
Simple Battery in the Absence of Direct Physical Contact
In some cases, you can be charged with simple battery in Orange County even if you do not make direct physical contact with another person. It can still be treated as a physical attack. For example, if a person is holding a football in their hand and if you punch the football, you can be charged with simple battery – even though you did not technically make physical contact with the person.
What Is Aggravated Battery?
A simple battery charge can be bumped up to battery causing serious bodily injury – commonly referred to as aggravated battery – depending on the nature and severity of the injuries suffered by the victim.
Section 243(d) of the California Penal Code states that a person can be charged with aggravated battery if they willfully inflict serious bodily harm on another person.
The most common types of injuries that can fit the description of serious bodily injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Cut, stab, or puncture wounds that require stitches
- Any injury that results in serious disfigurement
- Any injury that result in loss of consciousness
- Any injury that leads to the impairment or loss of a bodily function
Apart from the severity of the injury, other factors that the court might take into account to decide whether it can be considered a serious bodily injury are:
- Whether the injury affects the victim’s ability to perform the activities of daily living like shaving, going to the toilet, showering, dressing, and moving from one place to another.
- Whether the injury affects the victim’s ability to work and earn a living.
- Whether the injury is likely to result in a physical or mental disability.
What Is Domestic Battery?
If you use force or violence against a person with whom you have an intimate relationship, you can be charged with domestic battery in Orange County.
An intimate partner – as defined by Section 243(e) (1) of the California Penal Code – can be:
- Your spouse
- Your former spouse
- A person you are engaged to
- The parent of your child
- A person with whom you live
- A person you are dating
As is the case with simple battery, you can be charged with domestic battery for merely making physical contact with your partner – even if the contact in question did not cause any pain or result in any injury.
For example, if your partner tries to walk away during an argument, and if you forcefully grab them by the wrist, you could face domestic battery charges.
On the other hand, if your actions result in physical injuries to your partner, you can be charged with corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant – commonly referred to as domestic violence. It is a felony offense and carries harsh penalties.
Battery on a Peace Officer
If you use force or violence against a person belonging to a protected group, you can be charged with battery on a peace officer. The protected groups that are covered under Section 243(b) and Section 243(c) (2) of the California Penal Code include:
- Police officers
- Court officers
- Probation officers
- Parole officers
- Immigration officers
- Border patrol officers
- Traffic officers
- Animal control officers
- Security Officers
- Emergency medical responders and paramedics
Penalties for Battery Charges in Orange County
The penalties for a battery charge in Orange County depend on a number of factors including:
- Whether the act of battery resulted in injuries
- Who it was committed against
- Criminal record of the defendant
Penalties for Simple Battery
Simple battery is generally treated as a misdemeanor. The penalties include a fine (up to $2,000) and jail time (up to one year).
Penalties for Aggravated Battery
Aggravated battery, on the other hand, is considered a wobbler offense, which means the prosecutor can charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony – depending on the circumstances.
The penalties for misdemeanor aggravated battery include a fine (up to $2,000) and jail time (up to one year). The penalties for felony aggravated battery include a fine (up to $10,000) and prison time.
Penalties for Domestic Battery
Domestic battery is generally prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Orange County – except in cases where the victim suffers physical injuries. The penalties include a fine (up to $2,000) and jail time (up to one year).
In most cases, first-time offenders receive probation instead of jail time, as long as they agree to take domestic violence classes, participate in a counseling program for batterers, and abide by the terms of the restraining or protective order issued by the court.
Penalties for Battery on a Peace Officer
Battery on a peace officer can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor if it does not result in any injuries. The penalties typically include a fine and can include county jail time depending on the severity of the case. If it results in injuries, it can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. If prosecuted as a felony, the offense is punishable by a fine (up to $10,000) and can result in prison time.
The Impact of Your Criminal Record in Wobbler Offenses
When it comes to wobbler offenses like aggravated battery and battery on a peace officer, prosecutors have the authority to decide whether the offense in question should be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. One factor they take into account while prosecuting these offenses is the criminal record of the defendant.
If you are a first-time offender, depending on the severity of the circumstances, you may be charged with a misdemeanor – as long as you did not inflict any serious bodily harm on the victim. On the other hand, if you have prior convictions – assault or battery convictions in particular – you are more likely to be charged with a felony and the prosecutor might also seek enhanced penalties.
Common Defenses Against Battery Charges
Your criminal defense lawyer can make the case that you were acting in self-defense if:
- You believed that the alleged victim was about to hurt you.
- You believed that the danger in question was imminent.
- You believed that the alleged victim could only be stopped by using force or violence.
- The amount of force you used was in proportion to the level of threat you faced.
The law says that accidental physical contact cannot be considered an act of battery – even if it causes injuries. For example, if you accidentally drop something from the balcony and it lands on someone and injures them, your criminal defense lawyer can make the argument that what happened was an accident and try to get the charges against you dismissed. However, in the aforementioned scenario, you can be sued by the victim for negligence in civil court.
If the alleged victim consented to take part in a risky activity and got injured as a result, they cannot claim that you assaulted or battered them. For example, if your friend happens to be a boxer and asks you to be their sparring partner, and you injure them while sparring, they cannot accuse you of assaulting or battering them. Your defense lawyer can argue that the alleged victim knew the risks associated with sparring and engaged in it voluntarily.
What Is Not Considered a Viable Defense Against Assault and Battery Charges?
Voluntary intoxication is not a viable defense against battery charges. You cannot claim that you were too drunk to realize what was happening. When you drink, you do so knowing that it will affect your mental functioning. You can be held responsible for the laws you break and the offenses you commit when you are drunk.
However, if you accidentally bump into or fall on someone while you are drunk, your defense lawyer can make the case that it was an accident and not an act of assault or battery.
You cannot claim that you used force on the victim because they provoked you. The law clearly states that no amount of verbal provocation can justify the use of force or violence. However, if someone provokes you by physically touching you or brandishing a deadly weapon, and if you respond with force, your defense lawyer can defend you by arguing that you were acting in self-defense as long as you did not use disproportionate force.
Facing Assault/Battery Charges in Orange County? Let Us Help You!
If you have been charged with assault and battery, the accomplished criminal defense lawyers at Paladin Legal Defenders are ready to provide you with the aggressive and passionate legal representation you need.
We have a former police officer and a former prosecutor on our team so we know how assault and battery cases are prosecuted in Orange County. We can devise the right strategies to defend you, negotiate with the prosecution, and take the necessary steps to protect your rights, interests, and freedom.