Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Assault vs. Battery

Posted on: March 17, 2009 at 2:25 p.m.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys get asked a variety of questions by people who want to learn about the law. There are many crimes in Los Angeles that seem similar, but that quite different. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys represent numerous clients charged with assault and/or battery, but who often don't know the difference between the two.

Most people hear the words "assault and battery" and think they know what that means physically attacking someone. That definition is really only partially true, especially in Los Angeles.

Historically, assault has been defined as the threat of violence coupled with the ability to carry out that threat, whether that threat is made verbally or through a persons actions. Battery has more often been seen as the actual act of violence against someone. While many states today do not make much of a distinction between assault and battery, in Los Angeles they are seen as separate crimes and charged and punished accordingly.

Simple assault, which includes both threats and attempts to cause injury to another person, is almost always a misdemeanor charge. Simple battery, the willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another person is classified either as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances and the amount of damage caused. Assault and battery both serve as types of "umbrella" classifications that include other criminal offenses.

Sexual assault and battery offenses require both threat of unwanted sexual contact as well as physical contact that was not consented to by the victim. This offense in particular is very serious as not only can you be punished by possible jail time if convicted, but you may also be required to register with Californias sex offender registry for life.

Assault with a deadly weapon and assault with a firearm also include the threat or attempt of violence. The difference here is that a deadly weapon can be almost anything but a firearm, but both a firearm and a deadly weapon are likely to produce great bodily harm. Either can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, but a conviction for an assault with a deadly weapon charge will count as a "strike" under Californias "Three Strikes" laws. Battery with injury is an act of physical violence that injures another person and can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Domestic violence that results in an injury is also classified as battery. Mayhem (disabling or disfiguring a victims body or part of their body) and torture (causing cruel or extreme pain or suffering by inflicting great bodily injury) are also in the group of offenses under battery, and are usually charged as felonies.

Assault and/or battery charges are taken very seriously in Los Angeles and the punishments can be severe: county or state prison time, a permanent criminal record, significant monetary fines, probation, parole, mandatory anger management classes, losing the right to own a deadly weapon, the lifetime loss of eligibility for a California drivers license, and the loss of eligibility for certain jobs. Each assault or battery case is different, and each should be treated with special care. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know what details to look for in order to get the best possible outcome for you. If you have been charged with an assault or battery offense, call the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP right away to begin preparing your defense.

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