Assault and battery are often linked in criminal charges and in the media, but the truth is that they're two separate crimes. Battery, the more serious of the two, is the "willful and unlawful" use of force or violence against another person. In real life, battery is charged in California for almost any touching to which the other person didn't consent. It is frequently charged with assault, which is essentially an attempted battery. Because they're so often charged together, prosecutors may try to overload a case with a battery charge that isn't justified by the facts. Our Inland Empire battery criminal defense attorneys defend such cases vigorously.
Battery is normally a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $2,000 or both. However, when the battery caused serious bodily injury, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. If it's a felony, the penalty is up to four years in prison and it counts as a "strike" for three-strikes purposes. The law also carves out multiple exceptions for batteries against specific people and in specific places. You may face greater penalties for battery against these and other people:
- A police officer
- A custodial or parole officer
- A firefighter, EMT, probation officer or certain other professionals
- A doctor or nurse performing emergency medical care
- Anyone who falls into the categories established by domestic violence laws
- An elder or dependent adult
- Anyone on the grounds of a school, park or hospital, or on public or private transit
There are several ways our Los Angeles County battery defense attorneys can defend battery cases. We find that many battery cases grow out of physical conflicts in which both sides share some blame. This sometimes allows us to argue that the battery was an act of self-defense by our client. In other cases, we can defend battery charges by showing that the touching was accidental. To prove battery, prosecutors must show that the touching was "willful," so proving a lack of intent to commit battery can mean dropped charges. We pursue these and other defenses for all of our battery clients, especially those who face felony battery charges that could be a "strike." When the circumstances are right, we negotiate hard to drop felonies to misdemeanors and misdemeanors to lesser charges, to keep our clients' records as clean as possible.
If you're charged with battery in Southern California, Howard Law can help. For a confidential consultation on your case, please send us a message online or call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925.