Assault & Battery

Even though people often use the words assault and battery synonymously, California assault and California battery are actually two separate and distinct crimes. The crime of battery consists of the actual use of unlawful force or violence against someone else, as opposed to just an attempt to do so which is all that’s required for the crime of assault.

Penal Code section 240, simple assault, is a misdemeanor crime in California. The penalties for simple assault in most cases include a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six (6) months in county jail. It’s not uncommon to negotiate a plea bargain that includes a program, like anger management, for a lesser penalty. Generally, for the prosecution to prove their case and convict a defendant of simple assault under Penal Code section 240, they must prove:

  • The defendant did something that was likely to result in the use of force against someone else
  • The defendant did so willfully
  • The defendant was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that this act would likely result in force being applied to another person and
  • When the defendant acted, they had the ability to apply force to the other person

California Penal Code 242, simple battery, is a misdemeanor crime in California. The penalties for simple battery in most cases include a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to six (6) months in county jail. As with assault, a negotiated plea worked out between the prosecution and your defense attorney, could include a program like anger management to lessen some of the punishment. Generally, for the prosecution to prove their case and convict a defendant of simple battery under Penal Code section 242, they must prove:

  • The defendant touched someone else
  • The defendant did so willfully and
  • The defendant was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that this act would likely result in force being applied to another person and
  • That touching was done in a harmful or offensive

While no injury is required to charge a defendant with simple battery, an injury can result in the charge being filed as a felony which has much more severe penalties including the potential for prison. Additionally, a battery against a police officer, fireman or EMT could raise the battery to a felony as well.

As with most offenses, it’s imperative to contact a Santa Rosa assault and battery attorney as soon as possible. The more time they have to work on your case, the better.

Domestic Violence

While it’s illegal in California to commit an assault, battery or criminal threat against anyone, if the alleged victim is your fiancè, spouse, cohabitant, dating partner or the parent of your child, California domestic violence laws make the allegation a lot more serious. Unfortunately, innocent people are wrongly accused of domestic violence regularly. Often times, an accuser will make a false accusation of domestic abuse out of anger or jealousy, or even to gain the upper hand in divorce or child custody matters. Other times what initially appears to be a case of domestic violence was truly an accident, or the arrested person acted in self-defense during a mutual struggle.

The charges that encompass California Domestic Violence laws are many and include

  • Penal Code 273.5 Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant – Penal Code 273.5 makes it a crime to inflict a “corporal injury” resulting in a “traumatic condition.” An individual commits this crime by striking their partner in some way and causing a visible injury, even a slight one such as swelling or bruising.
  • Penal Code 243(e)(1) Domestic Battery – Penal Code 243(e)(1) makes it a crime to inflict force or violence on an intimate partner including a fiancè, cohabitant, the parent of your child, or your current or former spouse or dating partner.
  • Penal Code 273d Child Abuse – Penal Code 273d makes it a crime to inflict “corporal punishment or injury” upon a child if it was “cruel or inhuman” and resulted in an injury (even a minor one). California child abuse laws allow a parent to spank a child, but draw the line where the punishment is cruel or results in injury to the child.
  • Penal Code 273a Child Endangerment – Penal Code 273a makes it a crime to allow a child (in your care or custody) to suffer harm or to have his/her safety or health endangered.
  • Penal Code 270 Child Neglect/Failure to Provide Care – Penal Code 270 makes it a crime for a parent to willfully fail to provide necessities (like food, shelter, medical care, etc.) to their minor child.
  • Penal Code 368 Elder Abuse – Penal Code 368 makes it a crime to inflict physical or emotional abuse, neglect, endanger or commit financial fraud on a victim 65 years of age or older. The crime is often charged against caregivers or family members.
  • Penal Code 422 Criminal Threats – Penal Code 422 makes it a crime to issue a threat of serious harm to someone if (1) you intend to put the person in fear, and (2) you actually do put the person in sustained fear. Criminal Threats may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony making it a wobbler.

The penalty and punishment for crimes under California domestic violence laws vary depending on the seriousness of the injuries claimed, if any, and the defendant’s criminal record. Most counties will require a lengthy jail sentence, even for first-time misdemeanor convictions and almost always require the defendant to attend and complete a 52-week domestic batterers class.

The complicated and varied nature of California Domestic Violence laws often times require a detailed and tentative approach. Contact a Santa Rosa domestic violence attorney today.

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