If you are facing charges for battery in San Diego, California, you are likely encountering a high degree of confusion about the nature of the charges laid against you, and the steps you should be taking next. There are many misconceptions about battery that can be confusing if you have yet to contact a San Diego battery defense lawyer.
Are assault and battery two distinct crimes? Do injuries need to be sustained in order to constitute battery? And furthermore, what kinds of defenses can be credibly used to mitigate a battery case? These questions have no easy answers, especially when you do not have a background in law. Due to the intricacies of battery charges, an experienced San Diego Criminal defense attorney is an important point of contact to navigate the laws you will encounter. Call us today (619) 777-7171 and schedule a complimentary consultation.
- 1 Are Battery and Assault the Same Thing?
- 2 Common Types of Battery Charges
- 3 How a San Diego Battery Defense Lawyer Can Help
- 4 Common Defenses Your San Diego Battery Defense Lawyer Can Use
- 5 How Are Criminal Battery Cases Proven?
- 6 Contact an Experienced San Diego Battery Defense Lawyer
Are Battery and Assault the Same Thing?
The charges of assault and battery are often found in the same context, but in California, they are classified as separate crimes. Although some states define these charges in different ways, in general, assault is distinguished by a person attempting or threatening to injure another person. Battery, on the other hand, is the actual contact that results in injury or harm. To constitute a battery charge, all of the following are required:
- Intentional touching
- This touching must be harmful or offensive
- This touching must have been carried out without consent from the victim
- The circumstances under which battery charges can be laid are also confusing, as battery covers a wide variety of different situations.
For example, each of the following is an example of a battery charge:
- In the line at a grocery store, a woman pushes the man who just cut in front of her
- A man throws a rock at another man who has just insulted him; the rock hits the man on the back and results in injury.
- A waitress spits on a restaurant patron who has been treating her disrespectfully.
Clearly, these situations are very different from each other, and a San Diego battery defense lawyer will be able to help you distinguish the type of charges that you face. Each situation has varying degrees of harm, but you’ll notice that each contains an example of unwanted contact, even spit.
There are two main features of battery charges that a battery defense lawyer in San Diego will identify with you:
Intent is Required
One of the most common myths about battery is that injuries must be sustained for someone to face charges. In reality, battery need only have the intent to contact or cause contact with an individual. If someone acts in a criminally negligent or reckless manner and causes unwanted contact with another, it may constitute an assault. This is a fine point to argue in court, as merely bumping into another person, no matter how offensive the other person may consider the action, does not constitute battery.
Acting is Required
For a battery to be a criminal act, the charges must boil down to offensive or harmful contact done to another individual. This contact spans a wide range of battery, from kicks and punches to cases involving minimal contact. The victim does not have to be injured or harmed, as long as offensive contact of some kind occurred. For example, spitting on another person does not physically injure them, but battery charges can sometimes be given due to the fact that offensive contact occurred. The offensive nature of the incident is usually evaluated by circumstances and the case presented by the battery defense lawyer.
In California, the crime of battery consists of any willful and unlawful use of force or violence on someone else. Although the term ‘battery’ conjures in most people’s minds the image of severe beating and injury, physical violence does not necessarily need to have occurred to be charged with battery under California Penal Code 242. To face charges of battery under the California law, one only needs to touch another in an offensive way (remember our previous example of spitting).
That being said, when battery does result in serious injury, the charges may be increased to ‘battery causing serious bodily injury. which can increase fines and jail sentences. However, for simple battery, the standard penalties are a misdemeanor charge; with fines of up to $2000 and maximum jail time of six months.
Common Types of Battery Charges
There are many types of charges that one may face in an incident of criminal battery. Your battery defense attorney will be able to help you identify the reasons behind your charge and help you to understand the varying degrees of penalties that change with the intensity of the crime.
An unlawful or attempted attack that is accomplished by force or through violence. Battery that constitutes a felony involves the use of weapons and usually results in a very serious injury. Even if no injury occurs, the presence of a weapon will lead to felony charges in the battery case. That being said, a weapon is not required for a felony charge.
This charge occurs when the weapon is present but not used, and the victim’s injuries are relatively minor. Simple assault and battery will usually result in a misdemeanor charge in San Diego, California.
Battery Causing Serious Bodily Harm
A physical assault causes serious harm to the body and can be the prior commission of murder or aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault is characterized by the use of a weapon and the use of increased force and injury. Aggravated assault is a very serious charge.
Sexual Assault and Battery
Sexual assault and battery charges include anything from sexual harassment to domestic violence to rape. Sexual assault is a tragically common form of assault, and will usually be brought to court. Sexual assault can cause serious physical damage and injuries, as well as mental trauma that can have long-lasting effects on the victim.
It is very important to understand the nature of the battery charges placed against you, as they will affect the consequences you face, as well as the legal defense your battery defense lawyer will try to construct.
How a San Diego Battery Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you are facing charges for assault, you are not required to have a battery defense attorney. However, a battery defense lawyer is someone that you will not want to navigate the legal system without. Your battery defense lawyer will be able to make decisions about what’s best for you. For example, your lawyer will let you know when it’s beneficial to speak in court and when it’s better to let them do the talking. Without the advice of a battery defense lawyer, your own statements may unwittingly provide ammunition for the prosecutor. And your words may be turned against you.
Some people are inclined to give up and plead guilty when faced with an assault charge. You should not exercise this judgment until a battery defense lawyer has reviewed the case. Determining the best course of action for you to take. A battery defense attorney may review the case and find that there is not sufficient evidence for a conviction or they can find technical ways to exclude badly documented evidence. A seasoned battery defense attorney that has handled similar cases in the past will immediately pinpoint any issues in the prosecutors’ evidence and help defend you.
Common Defenses Your San Diego Battery Defense Lawyer Can Use
Although battery is a very serious criminal offense, there are certain situations when an individual can claim a defense to the charges with the help of a battery defense lawyer. These generally include:
Self-defense is a common defense used for battery charges, but it should be noted that a person can only use an equal amount of force than that which was used against them for this defense to be considered valid in a court of law.
Intoxication is sometimes used as a defense, especially in cases of involuntary intoxication, where the defendant was not responsible for their level of impairment
A battery defense attorney may be able to construct a defense if the defendant was forced to commit battery. This usually occurs if harm was threatened against the individual or a loved one.
The defense of privilege is considered when a person was making a ‘citizen’s arrest.’ Certain states have different laws about the privilege of a citizen’s defense.
A person can’t charge another individual with battery if they have first authorized the offensive or harmful touching. For example, if a person says “you can hit me,” they cannot then file charges if the person actually hits them
Battery charges are sometimes brought against parents in accordance with the Penal Code 273 (d) of the California child abuse laws. However, there is a parental right to discipline a child as long as it is reasonable and not excessive under the circumstances. You may be able to use the parental right law to discipline a child as a defense against battery charges.
Defense of Property
Defense of property can also sometimes be used as a defense against charges of battery. Although individuals have the right to defend their property and loved ones, deadly force cannot be used if the intruder did not threaten or use deadly force themselves. Different states have slight variations on this principle.
How Are Criminal Battery Cases Proven?
In your case, a battery defense lawyer in San Diego, California will know to look for the following for proof of battery:
Physical evidence is accumulated through evidence that can help ‘recreate’ the scene of the incident. This evidence can include marks on a person’s belongings, DNA evidence, and anything else that can establish a pattern of events.
Witness testimony is gathered through the written and verbal statements of bystanders and others to provide insight into how the altercation unfolded. Battery charges are determined by establishing key facts, such as who hit first, or who was provoked. Witness testimony can provide valuable answers to a courtroom.
Statements made by the victim can sometimes confirm the innocence of a defendant by establishing facts about the incident.
Police reports are generally held to be reliable documents, as they are typically made at the scene of a crime or at the precinct in the immediate aftermath. These reports provide an account of the incident as soon as it happened and cannot be subject to shifting storylines.
Testimony by medical experts and medical reports can reveal very important information in a battery case. Medical testimony can reveal whether the assailant actually used the weapon and how extensive the injuries of the victim are. Criminal battery is one area of the law that can vary widely from place to place. As a result, the importance of a battery defense lawyer cannot be overstated.
Contact an Experienced San Diego Battery Defense Lawyer
If you are facing charges of battery, contacting San Diego Criminal defense lawyer is a positive first step you can take. Nothing is a suitable replacement for the advice that a battery defense lawyer in San Diego, California, can provide for you on an individual basis.
No matter the circumstances that surround the charges you face, enlisting the help of a battery defense attorney is the best way to ensure a good outcome from your case. Contact an experienced battery defense lawyer for a complimentary consultation about the charges you are facing.