Assault and battery charges may change your life significantly, especially if found guilty of the unlawful offenses. In California, assault and battery fall within the ‘violent crimes’ category, leading to either felony or misdemeanor penalties. Upon arrest and detention, you want to ensure that you are ready for the subsequent court procedures. This entails preparing elaborate defenses to justify or deny your actions. Moreover, you will need to file the requisite court documents before the trial begins within the set deadlines. While you may opt to represent yourself and undertake the various responsibilities, you can become easily overwhelmed. The situation is worse if the judge denies your release on bail, as you remain in police custody.
Thus, working with a criminal attorney is an excellent alternative to avoid any delays or inconveniences. Their support can help increase your chances of success, thanks to their wealth of experience in the field. Furthermore, your criminal lawyer plays a crucial role in your case preparation if you remain in custody. As a result, you do not have to worry about inadequate preparation or unnecessary delays in the trial. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, you will work with a highly dedicated team, ready to support you until the trial concludes. Our services are available in Anaheim, California, for high-quality legal representation.
The Nature of Assault and Battery
When charged with assault and battery, the prosecutor will file a case against you under the violent crimes category. Although the offense is not often characterized by severe violence and injuries, it may attract serious repercussions depending on the case circumstances.
The penal code distinguishes between assault and battery in sections 240 and 242 respectively, giving the elements of crime in each case. However, the similarities of each offense often result in a joint charge. If the judge finds you guilty of the unlawful accusations, you are likely to face misdemeanor penalties. However, aggravated forms of assault and battery can lead to enhanced sentences.
This is especially the case where you cause serious bodily harm to the victim requiring urgent medical attention. Despite the possible sentence enhancement, most judges exercise discretion and issue misdemeanor penalties. Your lawyer also plays a significant role in promoting a lenient sentence by preparing persuasive defenses.
Elements of Crime Associated With Assault and Battery
The criminal procedure dictates that a prosecutor takes over all new cases and issues directives on presenting the case. Moreover, the criminal system imposes the burden of proof on the prosecutor to provide evidence of your guilty involvement. As a result, you should be ready to refute the arguments by preparing defenses for your case. Thanks to the counterarguments raised, you can cast reasonable doubt on the elements of the crime. The three main factors associated with the charges are:
You Touched the Alleged Victim Directly or Indirectly
Firstly, the prosecutor should show that you came into contact with the victim either directly or indirectly. Contact should include touching the person's body or an item closely held on the body. If you made direct contact, your actions might consist of hitting, pushing, or grabbing the victim. Each case involves different characteristics, so the prosecutor should assess the facts and determine the punishable action.
On the other hand, indirect contact occurs where you touch the victim using an item other than your body. For example, throwing an object at the person leading to the infliction of pain or injury amounts to battery. Similarly, you may face the charges if the object intended to inflict harm caused another item to make direct contact with the victim.
For example, throwing a rock that hits glass which eventually shatters on the victim, is punishable as a battery. Therefore, you should be careful when engaging in different activities to avoid facing the repercussions.
When determining what touch means in this context, you should remember that you may face trial for the slightest touch. It does not matter that you only brushed on the alleged victim's body, provided there was contact.
The prosecutor will find several evidential sources to use during the trial, including the victim's testimony. Additionally, information retrieved from the police report taken after your arrest could be beneficial to the prosecutor. Thus, your defenses should be strong enough to cast doubt on the presented argument. If they are persuasive enough, they will increase the chances of a positive outcome.
You Made the Contact Wilfully
Secondly, the prosecutor should prove that you made contact with the accuser wilfully, without any influence from a third party. By demonstrating this element, the prosecution team will have shown your criminal intent in the offense. This is a crucial factor to determine, as it forms one of the two general criminal elements that must be present in any case; the illegal action and the intent.
However, showing intention is not always direct, especially if other actions led to the battery or assault. Nevertheless, the prosecutor will analyze your behavior from the evidence and come up with credible reasoning. For example, a person acting willingly rarely shows remorse for their actions compared to when an accident occurs.
On top of this, you should remember that acting wilfully does not translate to malice. Battery operates on a strict liability scale, meaning that you don't have to intend to violate the law. Further, the prosecutor does not need to prove that you aimed to cause harm to the victim, provided you put them in harm's way. Hence, your lawyer should work on developing proper defenses for this element of the crime to dissociate you from the unlawful act.
The Contact with the Alleged Victim was Offensive or Posed a Danger
Lastly, assault and battery charges are only considered if the victim took offense or reasonably feared for their safety. If not, the case may not be substantiated because the alleged victim may not press charges in the first place. Subsequently, evidence showing how your actions negatively affected the victim should be compiled and presented in court.
Typically, most persons will take offense and press assault and battery charges if they feel violated. This may be because you were rude or used violence when making contact with the victim. Further, acting out of anger may attract criminal charges because the victim may reasonably feel that their safety is threatened.
Therefore, the prosecutor will depict the specific way you acted against the alleged victim and build a case to prove the element of the crime. If your attorney can dispute the claim, you will have a chance to avoid incarceration or receive a sentence reduction.
The Distinguishing Element Between Assault and Battery
Despite the name 'assault and battery' alluding to the same crime, a difference exists between the unlawful actions. The elements discussed above are often applicable to battery, as they require the offender to make contact with the victim.
On the other hand, section 240 of the Penal Code describes assault as an unlawful action that may cause harm to the victim. The word "may," as used in the description, leaves room for a possible course of action, meaning that the offender does not necessarily need to complete their actions. Subsequently, you may face an assault charge for making the victim reasonable fear for their safety. The facts of your case would be presentable even if you did not cause significant harm to the alleged victim.
Thus, the difference between assault and battery is that while battery requires direct contact with a victim, assault charges are applicable whether or not you made direct contact that inflicted harm. Based on the descriptions, you are likely to face the charge jointly as assault and battery, where your attempts to inflict harm are successful. This is because your actions begin as an assault but end up as battery.
Defenses to the Crime
Once the prosecutor concludes their case presentation, your criminal attorney will have a chance to rebut the presented arguments. This consists of raising defenses and counterarguments to support your position and raise reasonable doubt. By applying acceptable defense strategies, your criminal attorney may successfully throw the prosecutor off.
Further, the high emphasis put on the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt will have the prosecutor conduct in depth case analysis. This is because improper representation of esch element of crime may result your acquittal or sentence reduction. Consequently, the prosecutor must prove all the discussed elements of crime above or risk losing the case. The evidence must demonstrate the argument and place you at the center of the wrongdoing for each element.
On the other hand, your attorney's role is to question the prosecutor's approach by introducing details that the team may have missed. Your lawyer can also cast reasonable doubt on the facts by arguing the technical points of law where necessary. Although the technique does not guarantee a successful outcome, it may introduce a different argument perspective.
Before trial, you want to consult your criminal defense lawyer and develop the best defenses to apply in your case. Your lawyer should have a good grasp of the facts and the issues in question by this stage. When you and the attorney test out the defense strategies, they should counter the prosecutor's claims sufficiently. Some applicable defenses are:
You Were Trying to Defend Yourself
The law permits persons to defend themselves from impending danger, provided self-defense is a reasonable reaction. Thus, you can work on this defense if the circumstances of your case involve an attempt to avoid danger. However, you want to ensure that you acted within the legal confines for the defense to apply.
Firstly, you should only retaliate in self-defense if you lack any possible escape route. For example, being trapped in a vehicle limits your escape options, leading you to engage in assault and battery as self-defense.
Even then, the legal restrictions require you to retaliate with proportional force to the threat at hand. The regulation applies to limit you from exceeding the necessary force, resulting in a manslaughter charge. Therefore, you can present your case facts in court to demonstrate that your actions met the two main requirements.
Some reliable evidential sources include witness testimonies from persons who were present when the altercation occurred. They can help you corroborate your evidence by concurring that you were in imminent danger. Additionally, you may rely on footage or audio evidence as further proof of your compromised situation.
You Intended to Protect Another from Harm
Alternatively, you may argue that you intended to protect a third party. This defense is applicable in two instances, depending on the circumstances of the case. The first scenario is where the claimant in your criminal case states that you offensively touched them. You may argue that you were trying to avert them from danger depending on the circumstances. For example, pushing someone out of the road to avoid a pedestrian accident is a reasonable defense, as it may have been the only way to save them.
The second instance arises where the claimant would have attacked a third party if you did not intervene. Your actions to stop the impending harm may include battery as you try to prevent any physical violence.
If you applied reasonable force in protecting the third party in either scenario, the judge may be persuaded to issue a favorable case outcome. Nonetheless, you should remember that not all cases end in an acquittal, as you may be partially to blame for the offense.
There was Consent to Touch the Other Person
Some actions may only occur because you genuinely believed to have had consent from the accusing party. For example, kissing someone against their consent may be charged as battery, mainly if no significant injury or damage arose from the incident. However, you can argue your case by including the element of consent to justify your actions.
Despite this, your defense must be within the confines of what the law describes to be consent. For example, a consenting person must do so voluntarily, and they may change their mind at any time. You should also avoid Influencing the other person's decision as it may be classified as duress. If you are confident that consent to act was present, you can work with your criminal attorney to present the defense.
Penalties Issued for the Offense
If your defense arguments fail to persuade the judge of your innocence, sentencing will follow. The events leading to the issuance of penalties include a sentencing hearing, which occurs on a different day. The time-lapse allows the judge to consolidate evidence from both sides and come up with a justified judgment for the case.
Once arraigned in court, the judge may give you a few minutes to provide your mitigation statements. You can decide to take up the opportunity and plead lenient, especially if part of your defense arguments are valid. With your criminal attorney’s help, you can prepare yourself for the sentencing hearing to avoid unforeseen outcomes.
Following the guidelines issued under sections 240 and 242 of the Penal Code, assault and battery fall within the misdemeanor category. Subsequently, you will face penalties at the judge’s discretion. Further, the judge assesses the case facts and the evidence provided before reaching a final decision.
The penalties for assault and battery are:
- A court fine of up to $2000
- A jail sentence that lasts for up to six months
- A misdemeanor or summary probation
Although sentencing guidelines are available for reference, the judge will adjust each sentence accordingly. Subsequently, you do not have to face all three punishments simultaneously unless your case includes aggravating factors. Often, the punishment issued will either be a sentence or a fine payment.
Characteristics of Summary Probation
Apart from issuing formal sentences, the judge may order you to start summary probation until you complete it. This is often a better option than incarceration, as you can return to your everyday life if you adhere to the requirements. However, you should note that failure to adhere to the requirements attracts strict repercussions. Therefore, understanding the requirements to fulfill is necessary.
You should also remember that a probation officer is assigned to monitor your progress and compliance throughout the period. Usually, the process involves reporting to the officer and complying with the court directives they may have to undertake. You can consult your criminal defense lawyer and request additional services like reminders and court attendances on your behalf where possible.
Conditions to Fulfill During the Probation Program
Probation sentences differ depending on the type of offense you are charged with. Nonetheless, some requirements cut across all summary probations as a formality. Some of them include:
Paying Fines and Restitution to the Alleged Victim
Most probation sentences will include mandatory court fines that serve as retribution for the offense. As a result, you will need to prove your compliance in making the payments by providing a court-issued receipt along with other documents when required.
Further, the judge may also order you to pay restitution fees to the victim after an assault and battery charge. This is especially common if your actions resulted in their need for medical attention. Since the alleged victim will have incurred medical expenses, you will be held responsible for repayments.
Attending Mandatory Therapy Sessions
Some cases involve offenders dealing with mental health conditions that make them aggressive. Subsequently, they are more likely to lash out and become involved in assault and battery. While the medical condition is understandable, a person will still face arrest if they can control their emotions and actions.
Nonetheless, part of their sentence includes a mandatory therapy program to help deal with irrational behavior. Furthermore, the therapy may help complete behavioral change, particularly if the offender demonstrates a willingness to improve their condition.
Making Court Attendances as Required
After the judge issues a probation sentence, they will need to keep up with your progress by holding court sessions. The probation officer assigned to you will appear for the hearings to present information regarding the programs you have engaged in so far. Apart from that, they may raise any other concerns about your behavior, or vouch for your commendable participation.
Thus, the judge may require you to make several court appearances to address you directly. A failure to appear often indicates non-cooperation and will attract additional penalties. You should note that sometimes, having your criminal defense lawyer stand in for you is unacceptable, particularly if the judge makes specific orders. Due to this, you want to try and adhere to the summons.
Completing your Community Service Hours
Community service is often a requirement for persons undertaking a probation program. It aims at correcting your unlawful behavior by exposing you to constructive activities. The government will also help the community benefit from your services, making it a widely issued sentence.
While the requisite hours to complete your program are spread out, you should create a schedule with your probation officer to ensure you meet the hours. This will help you avoid missing crucial work time, leading to enhanced sentences after non-compliance with the probation terms.
Compliance with Court Issued Restraining Orders
As mentioned, assault and battery is a violent offense that involves the invasion of personal space. Hence, some victims may feel threatened by your presence even after you receive a sentence for your actions. They will therefore apply for a restraining order to keep you away for enhanced security.
Since a judge issues restraining or protective orders, you want to comply with them and keep your distance. Violating the provisions may result in your arrest and prosecution for a separate offense. You will also face harsher consequences, as you will be a repeat offender. By complying with the restraining order provisions, you will avoid the additional repercussions and secure your freedom sooner.
Contact a Anaheim Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Anyone facing assault and battery charges understands the seriousness of the issue, as the accusations may involve drastic life changes. For example, having to spend time behind bars will reduce your access to family and loved ones. Moreover, participation in probation programs limits your ability to schedule your activities on your terms. Subsequently, seeking legal assistance to fight off the accusations is advisable. With a solid legal team behind you, you can push for an acquittal or reduce the issued penalties substantially. Further, you will have more peace of mind knowing that a qualified team is working on your case.
With California Criminal Lawyer Group, you can access all the benefits above, thanks to the high-quality criminal defense services offered. Over the years, the team has helped multiple clients in Anaheim, California, raise defenses against assault and battery accusations. Further, you can expect additional support that goes beyond court representation, as the team cares about your wellbeing beyond the trial. If you or a loved one requires criminal defense services, contact us today at 714-766-0965.