Assault and Battery
California Assault and Battery Enhancements and Aggregating Factors
All assault offenses have enhancements, exceptions, and aggravating factors the can increase penalties. These factors can be where the incident took place, such as on the grounds of a school, in a hospital or prison, or who the act was committed against.
Penalties will be increased if you commit an assault against a:
Because every completed battery includes assault, a defendant committing a battery usually cannot be separately convicted for an assault. However, when the degrees of the assault and battery differ, there can be two separate convictions for assault and battery.
For example, while it may seem that felony battery and felony aggravated assault are interrelated, a felony of aggravated assault focuses on the amount of force used, and a felony battery focuses on the actual injury inflicted.
What is Assault?
At its most simple level, an assault is merely an attempted battery; and, although it is more complex, a battery can generally be described as a successful and completed assault. For example, if you throw an object, lets say a book at another person, it becomes an assault upon the action of throwing. If that person is subsequently hit with the object, in this case a book, the battery becomes complete because contact resulted. Therefore, an assault can be committed without a battery, but a battery cannot be committed without an assault.
What is Battery?
However, every battery necessarily includes an assault. A battery in California is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. Cal. Pen. Code 242 (2005). California case law has long established that merely touching a person may constitute a battery, even if it does not result in any bodily harm or pain. People v. Bradbury, 91 P. 497 (Cal. 1907). In People v. Martinez, a barefoot defendant kicked a motorcycle police officer, who was wearing motorcycle boots, in the shin. 3 Cal. App. 3d 886 (Cal. App. 1970). The court held that the kicking of the officer satisfied the definition of battery, although there was no injury suffered. The requirement of force can be either direct, like punching or kicking, or can be indirect.
Penalties and Sentences
The penalties and sentencing for a defendant convicted of assault or battery depend on the severity of the crime, any aggravating circumstances, and the defendant's past criminal history.
For a simple assault, the Penal Code sets a maximum fine of $1,000, a maximum sentence of imprisonment in county jail for six months, or both. The penalties can increase to $2,000 or one year of imprisonment, however, if the victim of the crime is one of the persons specified by the Penal Code, such as an on-duty peace officer, or if the crime happens in a specified location such as a school or public park.
For a simple battery, the Penal Code sets a maximum fine of $2,000, a maximum term of imprisonment for six months in county jail, or both. The term of imprisonment can increase to one year based on the circumstances of the crime; for example, the sentence can increase if the victim was one of the types of persons specified by the Penal Code or if the defendant engaged in domestic violence. For a battery resulting in serious bodily injury, California law permits felony sentencing according to Section 1170 of the Penal Code. Sentencing through Section 1170 can result in a term of imprisonment for two, three, four years, or for another term depending on the criteria under the section. In addition, prior felony convictions may lead to increased penalties for a new conviction.
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