While assault and battery are two of the most common crimes in America, there is still a lot of confusion about these charges. Fortunately, a Vista violent crimes defense attorney can help you learn the difference between the two as well as the potential punishment you might face for these crimes.
Aren’t Assault and Battery the Same?
The biggest misunderstanding most people have lies in the definition of the words themselves. While common usage suggests that assault and battery are words that can be used interchangeably, each word has a distinct meaning.
Assault is defined as the threat or attempt, paired with the ability, to injure someone illegally. For example, assault with a deadly weapon occurs when someone threatens another person with a weapon like a knife. Battery is the actual use of force or violence on someone. If you attempt to throw a punch at someone, but miss, you can be charged with assault, even if there was no physical contact. If the punch ended up hitting someone else, you could be charged with assaulting your intended target and battering the actual victim.
It is worth noting that battery can sometimes be charged when someone does something that could potentially harm someone else, even if it wasn’t a directly violent act. For example, a woman was charged with battery for spitting in a police officer’s food.
Potential Penalties for Assault and Battery
Simple assault is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. That being said, there are a number of ways assault can be a much more serious charge, for example, if the victim is a police officer, firefighter, paramedic or other protected class, the crime can be punishable by up to one year. Assault with a deadly weapon can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony and can be punishable by up to four years in prison as a felony.
Battery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries. As a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is six months in jail. If it is charged as aggravated battery, the maximum sentence can be as much as four years in prison. If the battery results in serious injury or a deadly weapon was used it is a strike in California and in cases of serious injuries can add three years to a prison term and reduce early release prison credits. Because the decision of how to file these charges is largely up to the District Attorney, your Vista assault and battery lawyer may be able to minimize the charges in some case.
He Said, She Said
Because police in these cases often act based on the testimony of witnesses, you could be charged with battery even when you did not actually make physical contact with anyone or assault when the other party is the one who made the threats. That is why it is so important to work with a skilled Vista violent crimes lawyer who can help show your side of the story is the accurate explanation of events or at very least that there is not enough evidence to prove you broke the law.
If you have any questions about an assault or battery charge, Peter M. Liss can help. Call (760) 643-4050 today to schedule a free consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Polina Sergeeva