difference between assault, battery, and aggravated assaultThough sometimes used interchangeably by people unfamiliar with the law, assault and battery are actually two different crimes.  While assault, battery, and aggravated assault all involve intentional harm inflicted by one person onto another, there are differences between these three charges and the penalties you may face if you are convicted.  If you have been charged with assault, battery, or aggravated assault, it is a good idea to speak with a knowledgeable attorney to make sure that you have someone on your side that knows how to fight these charges.

California criminal defense attorney Johann Hall has several years of experience fighting charges of assault, aggravated assault, and battery for his clients.  Whether you are facing charges of assault, battery, or aggravated assault, attorney Johann Hall can help you aggressively fight back against these charges.

What is Assault?

Assault is an intentional act performed by one person which causes another person to have a reasonable fear that they are about to suffer harm.  It is defined in the California penal code as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with the present ability, to commit a violent injury upon another person.”

While assault does not necessarily rise to the same level of a battery, it does allow for an individual who has taken steps to make another person fear that they are about to suffer imminent bodily harm subject to punishment.  Because acts of assault are against the law, even if they do not meet the requirements of a battery charge, this gives police officers the option to intervene and arrest someone who has made a serious threat to someone else’s life or well-being before that potential victim suffers any bodily harm.

Assault is typically charged as a misdemeanor.  If you are convicted of assault, you may be sentenced to county jail for up to six months, or you may be sentenced to a period of probation.  You may also be required to pay a fine up to $1,000 and restitution to the victim.  Restitution in this context means repaying the victim what he or she has lost.  In these cases, if a judge orders restitution, it may be to compensate the victim for any medical bills related to the assault.

What is Aggravated Assault, and How is it Different from Assault?

You can be charged with aggravated assault rather than just assault under certain circumstances.  For you to be convicted of aggravated assault, the prosecutor must prove that there was an aggravating circumstance involved in the alleged crime.  For example, if the assault you are accused of committing involved a deadly weapon, this can cause the charge of assault to be elevated to aggravated assault.  You can also be charged with aggravated assault if the assault you are accused of involved intent to commit a felony, like rape or murder.

While assault is charged as a misdemeanor, aggravated assault can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the actual circumstances of your case.  If convicted of aggravated assault, you may be sentenced to a period of probation or up to a year in jail, and you may also be required to pay a fine or restitution to the victim.  If you are facing a felony charge for aggravated assault, the punishments will be harsher.  Additionally, if convicted of a felony aggravated assault, this may have an impact on your future job and housing opportunities.

What is Battery?

Under California law, a person will be charged with battery if they willingly take a forceful or violent action toward another person.  For battery, there must be actual physical contact.  This differs from assault, as there is no physical contact needed for an assault charge.  In a sense, battery is a completed assault.

Generally, battery will be charged as a misdemeanor; however, it can also be charged as a felony under certain circumstances.  If you are convicted of a misdemeanor battery crime, you may face penalties that include up to six months in county jail or a period of probation, as well as a fine and restitution to be paid to the victim.

If you are accused of a battery that involves a peace officer, you may be charged with a separate battery crime under California Penal Code Section 243.  A conviction for battery against a peace officer may result in harsher sentencing by the judge.

If you are facing criminal charges for assault, aggravated assault, or battery, contact California criminal defense attorney Johann Hall today at (707) 360-8717 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.