Assault and Battery
Under Penal Code section 242, a “battery” is defined as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” In simple terms, a battery is when one person strikes another with intent and without legal justification. While the terms “assault” and “battery” are often used together and interchangeably by the public, an assault is essentially an attempted battery (e.g., throwing a punch at a person and missing would be an assault, while actually landing the punch would be a battery). Under the California Penal Code, an assault is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 and/or imprisonment in the county jail for up to 6 months. A battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,000 and/or imprisonment in the county jail for up to 6 months. When the victim of a battery falls within certain defined categories (e.g., a police officer, an EMT, or a spouse or significant other), the maximum punishment for the battery goes up, and in some instances (for example, if serious bodily injury is sustained by the victim) the battery may be filed as a felony and have over a year prison time as a maximum. Battery cases can be affected by several factors, including the severity of any injuries sustained, whether or not the parties willingly engaged in mutual combat, whether the victim has a character for violence, and whether there were any independent witnesses to the conduct. If a person is convicted of a battery and granted probation, restitution to the victim of the battery (e.g., for medical expenses) will likely be ordered by the court.
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