Assault and battery charges can result in serious criminal penalties, including a jail sentence and mandatory fine payments. Both assault and battery charges have distinct elements of crime that differentiate them, and you may face either one or a combined charge. Based on this, you must understand the primary factors of assault and battery to prepare for your upcoming trial. 

You can equip yourself with the information necessary to raise solid defenses by conducting sufficient research on the charges. Navigating the criminal trial process requires anticipating the prosecutor’s strategy and finding ways to counter their accusations. With the right legal advice, you are in a better position to argue your case smoothly and raise your chances of a favorable outcome. 

At Monterey Criminal Attorney, you will work with skilled and experienced criminal defense attorneys ready to help you defend yourself against assault and battery charges. Our team has handled multiple criminal cases previously, equipping us with the necessary knowledge. You can count on us to conduct the required research while representing you in court for a smooth trial process. Our team can also address any concerns about your assault and battery case. Our criminal defense services are accessible to anyone facing assault and battery charges in Monterey, California.

The Nature of Assault and Battery Charges

Attacking or attempting to attack another person by making physical contact with them can attract either assault or battery charges under California law. Assault and battery involve similar elements of crime, as you must have a victim target for the offensive actions you undertake.

Both offenses are recognized under the California Penal Code as separate crimes, making it important to analyze each crime by itself. The penal code provisions also create legal consequences for anyone found guilty of either assault or battery, and the presiding judge may adjust the punishments as they deem fit.

The main charge issued for assault and battery is a misdemeanor, as the intended attack often results in mild or no injuries to the victim. However, some forms of assault and battery involve aggravated elements of crime, attracting a felony charge.

You will learn of the charge you face after the prosecutor handling your case decides on the most suitable alternative. Upon learning of your charge, you must contact your criminal defense attorney to prepare your defense ahead of trial.

  • Understanding Assault Charges

The existing distinction between assault and battery makes it important to understand each offense and the main elements of crime associated with it. Assault is prohibited under Section 240 of the California Penal Code. The legal provisions define the offense as any attempt to attack another person by exerting force or violence on them. 

Based on the provisions, you must have the intention to cause harm to the victim, making it a violation of their person. You may therefore face an assault charge for attempting to harm the targeted party, regardless of whether or not you succeed. 

Elements of Crime for the Prosecutor to Prove in Assault Cases

Once your matter proceeds to trial, the prosecutor must prove your guilt before the judge can issue a sentence. The prosecution team is also responsible for upholding the standard of care applicable to all criminal offenses and establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The presiding judge and jury will thus expect the prosecutor to prove all elements of an assault crime. They are:

You Attempted to Use Force Against a Targeted Person

The primary distinction between assault and battery is that in an assault case, you face charges based on your attempt to use force against the victim. This means that the prosecutor should establish that you acted in a way that would have caused the victim harm or injury. 

Establishing this element of crime requires the prosecutor to develop the specific actions you undertook that could have potentially caused harm. As a result, you can expect the prosecution team to present evidence of your attempt to cause damage from various sources. 

For example, they may call on witnesses who were present when you lodged your assault to elaborate on the specific actions you took and who your target was. If the witnesses are unavailable during the hearing, the prosecutor can obtain a signed affidavit of their statements. The signed statement holds similar weight to having the witness present in court, except that they are not subject to cross-examination by your attorney.

Alternatively, the prosecutor may present surveillance footage showing your attempts, establishing the accusations against you. If the prosecutor can access surveillance footage evidence, you must prepare strong counterarguments to challenge it. 

The prosecutor must also establish that your actions were offensive to the victim, specifically that you intended to use force against them. When presenting this, the prosecutor does not necessarily have to show that you exerted high force against the victim.

Instead, the judge and jury may accept the prosecutor’s case even if you intend to use minimal force against the victim. Similarly, the case may proceed despite the victim's escape without facing any harm if you used targeted force against them. 

The Attempted Use of Force was Wilful

Establishing that you acted willfully is also important for the prosecutor because it demonstrates your deliberate decision to cause harm to the victim. The prosecutor’s goal is to establish that you acted voluntarily, meaning that your actions were not based on coercion from a third party. 

Showing you acted willfully requires the prosecutor to build their case around your mental deliberations. Doing so is not always straightforward, as it requires carefully analyzing all your actions moments before the assault. Based on this, the prosecution team relies on circumstantial evidence to support their accusations and persuade the court of your guilt. 

For example, if evidence is available to show that you snuck up behind the victim, it shows your willful intention to remain undetected so that you can cause harm. Alternatively, if you targeted an object at the victim, it demonstrates that you intended to harm them by singling them out. 

You can expect the prosecutor to use several different approaches to show that your actions were purposeful, depending on the circumstances of your case. Despite this, your criminal defense attorney will establish workable defenses to contradict the prosecutor’s accusations for a more favorable outcome.

You Knew that Your Actions Would Cause Harm to the Victim

Another important element for the prosecutor to establish is that you understand the possible effect of your actions on the victim. The prosecutor must demonstrate that you understood the harm you would have caused the target and still proceeded with your attempt to use force against them. 

Among the various ways for the prosecutor to establish your knowledge of the potential harm you would cause the victim is by showing that you chose a harmful option. Making a deliberate choice to expose the victim to harm or an offensive act is enough to demonstrate your knowledge. The prosecutor will thus provide supporting evidence to show your unlawful actions. 

Since this crime element requires the prosecutor to demonstrate your unlawful intentions, the prosecutor must also show that you prepared yourself to cause harm. For example, looking for a dangerous weapon to commit your offense indicates your unlawful intentions. 

Further, the prosecutor must show that you understood the possible impact of your actions and had the chance to attack the victim. Establishing this fact is necessary, as it shows that you did not merely engage in a conspiracy but intended to act against the victim. 

Overall, an assault charge requires the prosecutor to show all elements of the crime before the presiding judge can find you guilty. An attempt to cause harm to the victim is often enough to demonstrate your unlawful intentions, so you need to prepare your defenses adequately. 

  • Understanding Battery Charges

A battery charge requires the offender to make physical contact with the victim, unlike assault charges. Section 242 of the California Penal Code prohibits battery as any deliberate action to touch someone intending to harm or offend them. Establishing that physical contact occurred is important, as it distinguishes battery from assault charges. 

Battery charges apply under various circumstances, including where you indirectly touched the victim. When you use an object or a weapon to create physical contact, you are still liable for violating Section 242 PC.

Battery charges are commonly associated with sexual advances, although they are not the only reason for arrest. For example, kissing someone without their consent is a form of battery because it involves creating physical contact with them in a manner that offends them. 

In court, the prosecutor handling your case should prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and they must support their claims with relevant evidence. The main aspects of crime in a battery case are:

You Made Physical Contact With Someone

Battery charges must involve physical contact with the alleged victim for the case to succeed. The prosecutor must therefore show that you touched the victim by presenting evidence to support these claims. 

Touching someone may involve making direct contact with them by grabbing a body part like their hand or back. Additionally, touch may be directed to the person or through their clothes or other accessories close to their body.

For example, touching the person’s backpack is acceptable in a battery case, as is making physical contact with the person. Each case presents different circumstances, so the prosecutor must assess the facts and present relevant evidence to support the claims. 

You are also answerable as the defendant for even the slightest touch to the victim, provided you made physical contact. The prosecutor’s case can succeed despite your having made very quick contact as long as the case requirements for physical contact are met.

Other indirect contact forms, like throwing water, spitting, or a harmful object toward the victim, also count as battery, as they offend and potentially harm them. Several evidential sources are available for the prosecution team’s reference, so you must prepare your defenses well. 

For example, witness testimonies or statements may elaborate on how you approached the victim and made direct or indirect physical contact. Additionally, surveillance footage and police reports are important sources of evidence that may serve as persuasive evidence.

The Physical Contact was Intentional

A battery accusation should also establish that your actions were intentional to eliminate the possibility of accidental physical contact. The criminal intention is derived from circumstantial evidence, including any preparatory activities you performed. For example, walking close to the targeted person is enough to demonstrate your intent to commit battery.

The prosecutor can also derive your intention to harm the victim if you had conversations or plans that you communicated to a third party. Examples of evidential sources for the prosecutor’s reference include texts, social media posts, and emails containing your goals. If the prosecution team retrieves the details during the trial, consider presenting a persuasive counterargument that nullifies their argument or challenges the validity of the evidence.

If the prosecutor can show that you were aware of your actions and proceeded with them, they will succeed in demonstrating this element of the crime. A possible recourse you should consider is introducing additional evidence to challenge having a pre-formed intention to cause harm.

You Touched the Person Offensively or to Cause Harm

Innocent and accidental touch cannot result in a battery charge, as you may sometimes come too close to another person unintentionally. Conversely, battery offenses must involve an intention to offend or harm the targeted victim to attract criminal penalties. 

Touching the victim offensively or intending to cause harm may occur in various ways, including touching them inappropriately. For example, touching a woman’s breasts or buttocks without consent can easily offend them, resulting in a battery charge. 

Similarly, pushing or shoving someone into a busy street poses potential harm to them, as they are exposed to accident risks. The action will therefore attract a battery charge, depending on whether other factors apply to the case.

The prosecutor must demonstrate that your actions were intentional in causing harm or creating offense. Based on this, the prosecutor must assess your actions and examine whether a reasonable person would act the same way toward others. If the court finds your actions outrageous and offensive, it is more likely to find you guilty. 

Penalties for Committing Battery

California law classifies battery as a misdemeanor if the case elements do not involve aggravating factors. Subsequently, you may face a maximum sentence of six months in county jail if the judge finds you guilty. 

The judge may also issue a fine payment order of up to $2000 on top of the jail sentence or as an alternative. In extreme cases, the court can order you to serve both sentences. Probation sentences are also available in place of jail sentences, and the judge applies discretion to determine whether to grant the probationary sentence depending on your character, case severity, and other elements. 

Penalties for Committing Assault

Unlike battery, assault is a wobbler crime, meaning you may face misdemeanor or felony charges. The type of charge you face depends on whether your case involved aggravating factors that exposed the victim to serious harm. 

If you face misdemeanor charges, the judge may sentence you to up to six months in county jail or order you to pay a fine of up to $1000. You may also qualify for summary probation based on your case facts. However, if you engage in any aggravating actions like attacking emergency services personnel or a peace officer, you risk facing a sentence enhancement. The judge may thus add another year to your sentence and an extra $2000 on top of the initial sentence you receive. 

A felony offense attracts harsher penalties, and punishments vary depending on the severity of each case. You may receive two, three, or four years in state prison or pay a fine of up to $100,000. You are more likely to face felony charges for aggravated assault, which involves exposing the victim to possible death or using a deadly weapon during the assault. 

Defenses Applicable to Assault and Battery Charges

Since assault and battery charges include similar case elements, you can rely on the same defenses as counterarguments in court. The main aim of presenting defenses is to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecutor’s case. Doing this reduces your chances of facing a conviction because the criminal standard of proof is ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’ 

Some defenses to rely on include:

You Acted in Self Defense

Defending yourself when facing danger is acceptable, provided you meet the court’s standards for the legal defense to apply. Upon presenting self-defense as a counterargument for your actions, you must establish that you faced a real threat to your safety or well-being. The safety risk must have also reasonably caused you to fear for your life, pushing you to commit assault or battery.

Additionally, self-defense only applies as a legal defense if you lack an alternative to avoid the danger you face. The court will only accept your argument if you genuinely tried to escape or call for help without success. Nevertheless, you can argue that your circumstances prevented you from seeking help or running, making it impossible to explore the options. 

It is also important to show that the assault or battery you committed in self-defense was a suitable response to the danger you faced. Using proportionate force is crucial for the defense, as the law does not condone causing unnecessary harm to others.

Your Actions Were Involuntary

You may also argue that you acted under duress from a malicious party threatening your safety if you did not commit assault or battery. You justify using this defense to show that you lacked the criminal intent necessary to convict you. Doing so exposes the inconsistencies in the prosecutor’s accusations and increases your chances of receiving an acquittal.

Although the defense is applicable, you should also be ready to provide additional information on the main mastermind of your actions. You also need to raise the counterargument immediately to prevent an unnecessary trial from happening. 

You Were Exercising Parental Discipline

Parents are morally obligated to discipline their children when necessary, including using mild force like spanking. If your assault and battery case resulted from you disciplining your child, you could argue that you were exercising your parental duties, and a criminal case is ineffective. 

If you rely on this defense, ensure that all the facts are in your favor, specifically that you used mild force and did not expose the minor to harm. Failure to do so may justify the prosecutor’s accusations and warrant criminal punishment. 

Overall, working with a defense attorney gives you a better chance of preparing and presenting persuasive defenses. Reaching your lawyer soon after an arrest is advisable, as they can guide you through your assault and battery charges. 

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

When you face assault and battery charges, you will likely face a criminal trial, which requires you to understand the elements of crime associated with the charge. Assault and battery both involve intending to cause harm to another party by exerting physical contact. In court, the prosecutor presents all elements of a crime related to your case. 

Therefore, you must prepare persuasive defenses to support your claim and raise your chances of acquittal. Additionally, you need legal guidance to help you understand the course of your case and conduct further analysis of the prosecutor's presentation. Working with a skilled defense attorney is therefore advisable.

At Monterey Criminal Attorney, we provide quality legal defense services to meet your case's needs. Our role is to conduct research, obtain evidence, and represent you during trial proceedings to support your case. Additionally, our team is ready to undertake any negotiations with the prosecutor if needed. 

Our experience in the criminal defense field has strengthened our knowledge, allowing us to provide excellent legal support for anyone facing assault and battery charges in Monterey, California. For more information on how to fight assault and battery accusations, call us today at 831-574-1791