What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery in California

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What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery in California

If you think that assault and battery are the same thing, you’re mistaken. In California, assault and battery are two different crimes. The reason so many think they are the same charge is that it’s not uncommon for a person to be simultaneously charged with both, which means they’re linked in police reports and media write-ups.

According to California law, you’re guilty of assault if you commit an act that convinces the victim that they are in danger of either harmful or offensive contact. Battery is what happens when you actually carry through with the act. The way the laws are written, it’s quite common for someone to be charged with both assault and battery.

What Happens if You’re Charged with Assault

In order to be convicted of assault in California, you must have done something that indicated an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” The way the law is currently written, as long as the intent is there, you can be charged with assault even if you ultimately fail to go through with the act.

If you’re convicted of simple assault, the maximum sentence involves a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in a county jail. If the assault involved a deadly weapon, you could be sentenced to as much as four years in a state prison and also be ordered to pay up to $10,000 in fines.

What Happens if You’re Convicted of Battery

Battery is one of California’s wobbler offenses which means that the circumstances surrounding the incident determine whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

In California, battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” What this means is that if you threaten to hurt someone and don’t go through with the act, you cannot be charged with battery. On the other hand, if you go through the act and by some lucky chance the victim doesn’t get injured, you can still be charged with battery because you went through the with the intended action.

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor battery, you can be ordered to pay as much as $2,000 in fines and serve six months in prison. If you’re convicted of felony aggravated battery, you’ll be sent to prison and ordered to pay even larger fines. It’s likely the victim will also file a civil complaint against you.