People often talk about the crimes of assault and battery as if the two are the same, with both involving the use of physical force to commit harm.
However, under California law, there's an important distinction between assault and battery.
Assault involves willfully doing something that might cause either physical injury or result in some other kind of disrespectful, harmful touching. The important thing to remember about assault is that it doesn't have to involve any physical contact. As long as you try to do something harmful, this can be sufficient to get you charged with assault. So for example, if you threw a bottle at someone's head, even if you miss, you can still be up for assault charges.
There are different kinds of assault charges that depend in part on the potential deadliness of your attack and also who you attack (e.g. a police officer). For example, assault with a deadly weapon is a special category of assault for crimes involving a weapon that could potentially be deadly or a type of attack that could result in grave injury; keep in mind that, in addition to obvious examples such as a gun or knife, a deadly weapon might also be a car (if you're trying to hit someone) or a pair of scissors (if you're trying to stab someone with it).
Unlike assault, battery actually involves physical contact. This physical contact could cause injury or just be disrespectful or hostile.
Like assault, you need to be acting willfully. For example, if you stumble into someone and knock them over, and you did so accidentally, this shouldn't be seen as battery.
Similar to assault, there are also different kinds of battery charges depending on the results of your attack and who you attacked. For instance, a charge of battery with serious bodily injury (aggravated battery) can arise from an incident involving a broken bone, concussion, deep wound, or any other injury considered serious.
Can you be charged with both?
After being involved in a violent incident, you may face charges of both assault and battery.
For example, a driver for a ride-sharing company (Uber) was recently charged with both assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury. According to news reports, he had allegedly struck one of his passengers on the head with a hammer. Given the potential deadliness of the attack, he could be facing years of prison time and thousands of dollars in fines.
You need strong legal representation to help you deal with charges of assault or battery (or both). Maybe you were acting in self-defense. Maybe it wasn't your intention to commit an act of physical violence or hostile touching. Whatever the case may be, don't hesitate to contact us. Our office is located near the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, California, and we work with both adults and juveniles in the Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Corona and Riverside areas.