California Penal Code Chapter 9 ‘Assault and Battery’, describe various crimes that can be charged under assault or battery. Under the law, both assault and battery are separate crimes that may be charged with both a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the gravity of the crime. In some instances, assault and battery cases are charged with a misdemeanor, however, the charges may increase to a felony whenever assault or battery is carried out with a deadly weapon or when the act was directed towards a peace officer or public servant. Assault and battery laws vary by state, so it is in your best interest to discuss your case with a local lawyer who can apply the local laws to your case.

Assault and battery are crimes that hold relative fines and prison times. According to Penal Code 241, a simple assault case may be charged with one-thousand dollars and up to 6 months in jail. On the contrary, according to Penal Code 243, a battery offense may be charged with up to two-thousand dollars in fines and up to 6 months in jail. Although they hold similar punishments, they are two separate crimes that may be charged independently from one another. In some cases, an individual may be charged with a crime for assault and another for battery. The laws allow penalties to build on top of the other whenever an assault and battery incident has grave consequences.

The penalties mentioned above increase whenever an individual harms or attempts to harm a police officer. Individuals who come in contact with the police may face assault charges if they resist arrest. Individuals that resist arrest may think that they are protected by the law to defend themselves against police force. However, there are only certain cases where it is okay to resist arrest and act in self-defense. When an officer is assaulted while performing his official duties, the individual may face felony charges. Whenever an assault is directed to a public official or public servant, the crime is treated as a wobbler. If the crime causes bodily injury, the criminal can expect to face felony charges.

In addition, you can expect any situation to worsen whenever weapons are present. If an individual attacks a person with a weapon or attempts an attack with a weapon, his or her actions may be perceived as acting with intentions to murder. In cases, where the aggressor is caught with a weapon, the jury will deeply analyze the aggressors intent. Individuals who act with the intentions to cause grave bodily injury or who cause great bodily injury with a weapon, will more than likely face felony charges. 

The law provides literature on the elements that must be proved in order to successfully charge someone of a crime under Chapter 9 of the California Penal Code. In simple assault and battery cases, the following elements must be proved in a courtroom before a verdict.

To be convicted of assault the following elements must be proved in a courtroom:  

  • The aggressor acted with the intent. The aggressor's actions cannot simply be perceived as aggressive or harmful. The actions need to have been directed to someone and the aggressor's actions must point to the fact that they acted with intentions to scare, annoy, harm, or cause fear.
  • The aggressor has the ability to carry out the attack. A simple threat cannot be is not an assault unless there is proof that the aggressor has the ability to act on his or her words.
  • The victim must have felt that their life was in harm's way or in other danger. As mentioned above, the actions must be directed to someone else and the person must fear for their well-being.
  • The aggressor's actions have caused fear. The victim must have a legitimate fear of their life or the act must have been offensive.

Assault can be spitting in the direction of someone. In assault cases, the amount of force applied is not scrutinized as much as the person's intent. For instance, if the person intends to spit at someone, the force applied would be very little, but the aggressor can still face charges for assault.

To be charged with a battery offense the elements below need to be proved in a courtroom: 

  • The aggressor came into contact with the victim. The aggressor has caused physical harm such as causing a wound to open, a scratch, a burn, or a bullet wound. Furthermore, the act could also be perceived as offensive without causing physical harm. For instance, spitting at someone can be seen as a battery so long as the spit makes contact with the person. When a spit does not come into contact with the person, but there was clear intent to spit at someone, the act can considered an assault.
  • The individual who tries to harm or cause offense. The individual's actions need to be directed towards someone else and need to show intention to harm or cause offense, without these principles, the act may be charged differently.
  • The amount of force does not matter in battery cases. So long as there was contact, no matter the amount of force applied, an individual may be charged with battery.

Individuals cannot be charged with battery if the elements above are not present. To be charged with a battery the aggressor needs to have come in contact with another person and the acts need to be intentional. If an individual accidentally slaps you while you’re walking and they are stretching, they cannot be charged with battery. Furthermore, if an individual accidentally pushes into you and you bruise, you may not charge the individual with battery. To be charged with battery certain principles must be met, however, more often than not if you raise your fist at someone, you may be charged with either assault or battery depending on whether you carried the attack or not.

To face assault or battery charges the prosecuting party is required to prove certain elements of the crime in a courtroom. When you enter a courtroom, you will be required to defend yourself against the accusations or on the contrary, you may need to provide proof in order to press charges. Individuals caught in an assault and/or battery case, you may consult with a local criminal law attorney about the laws that guide your state. To ensure your case is evaluated with the appropriate laws, you are encouraged to reach out to the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer at 310-502-1314. Our attorney is ready to provide guidance and representation in and outside of a courtroom. To ensure you are not wrongly convicted, you are advised to seek legal guidance.  

Assault Penal Code 240

As mentioned above, assault and battery are two separate crimes described in Chapter 9 of the California Penal Codes. An assault crime may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the situation. In most simple assault cases, the court will treat the crime with a misdemeanor which means the aggressor may face a one thousand dollars fine and jail time for up to 6months.

Penal Code 240 explains that is it against the law to attempt to cause a violent injury to another person. PC 240 explains that in addition to the attempt, the act must be ‘coupled with a present ability’ to carry out the act.  The following examples will highlight some of the elements required in order to press charges for assault.

Example: Pete tells Mark that he is going to smash his face to the ground. Pete is currently two states away from Mark and there is no real sign of Pete ever showing up to carry out the act. In this case Pete is probably not going to be convicted of assault. However, if Pete is sitting next to Mark at a coffee shop and Pete starts yelling at Mark telling him its about to go down, then Mark runs away in fear. In the second incident, Mark felt that his life could be in danger which is why he chose to flee. Pete had the ability to carry out his act which is why Mark is capable of pressing charges for assault.

Example: After a night at the bar, John runs into an old high school bully and begins telling him off. John spits at his old bully and misses. The old bully turns the other way and attempts to de-escalate the situation by leaving. The victim can press charges on John even if there was no contact. Furthermore, John's intoxication does not protect him from his actions.

Assault Penalties 

Jail Time

An individual may face jail time and fines if he or she has had a record of assault. Individuals that face jail time are usually not first-time offenders. In addition, you may face jail time even if it is your first assault crime if the act was serious enough. For instance, if the assault resulted in harming a police officer or committing ‘assault with a deadly weapon.


Individuals may serve their jail sentence in probation. Individuals with little to no criminal record may find that if it is their first assault case, they may undergo a probation program. After the probation program, the individual may even have his fines dropped, however, that is not always true. If you commit assault or battery while on probation, then you may be met with jail terms.

Assault With A Weapon

As mentioned earlier, assault with a weapon is a wobbler which means it may either be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. According to Penal Code 245 ‘assault with a deadly weapon’, is a very serious crime that is charged with high fines and long prison terms. PC 245 explains that individuals found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, may face up to a year in county jail or up to four years locked up. In addition, the aggressor may be charged with up to ten thousand dollars.

Furthermore, the PC 245 explains different penalties for individuals using different types of weapons. For instance, under PC 245 (a) section 3, may face up to 12 years in prison and a ten thousand dollar fine for committing assault with a machine gun. Additionally, if the individual is committing an assault crime with a semi-automatic weapon, he or she may face up to 9 years in prison and fines up to ten thousand dollars.

Assault On A Public Official

Assault on a public official or public servant is a crime that may be treated with a felony. Depending on the circumstances, an individual may felony charges if their actions result in injuries or serious threat to a public officers well-being. In addition, an individual may be charged with Penal Code 217.1 if their actions were motivated by retaliation or to prevent the public official from carrying out their duty. A public official includes anyone working for a federal department or agency (the president, vice president, congressman/congresswoman etc.), anyone working in a courtroom, anyone recognized as a peace officer such as policemen, firefighters, or anyone working at a hospital. Essentially, anyone who attacks anyone employed by the federal, state, or local agencies may be charged with Penal Code 217.1.

In addition, it is a serious offense that can result in up to 12 years in prison if the aggressor commits an assault on a public official with a deadly weapon. Penal Code 245 (c) provides that if you commit an assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, the aggressor may be charged with up to five years in prison. Furthermore, if the aggressors use a firearm the prison sentence may increase to up to 8 years. In the presence of a semiautomatic weapon, the crime may be punished with up to 9 years in prison and up to 12 years in the presence of a machine gun.

Example: Mike is arguing with Senator Kamala Harris, after a heat political conversation, Mike stands up and poses a threat to Kamala Harris who later flees the bar fearing for her life. In this case, if Mike has no idea of her affiliation with the democratic party, he may not be charged for assaulting a public official. To be charged according to Penal Code 217.1 the individual would need to have acted with intentions to retaliate for political reasons or would have acted to impede her official duties. However, if Mike specifically approaches with intentions to harm Senator Kamala Harris for her Democratic Party affiliation, then he may face charges.

Battery Penal Code 242

Penal Code 242 explains that any ‘willful’ and ‘unlawful’ contact with another person is enough to be charged with battery. A battery is also known as an assault that was successfully carried out. In other words, anyone committing assault may be charged with battery if they successfully carry out the attack. When a battery is committed against another person that is not affiliated with a local, state, or government agency, then the act is often treated with a misdemeanor. Individuals that are charged with a simple battery may be charged with up to two thousand dollars and jail time for up to 6 months. However, if the act was directed towards a public official, the charges may include jail time for up to a year and fines of up to two thousand dollars. Battery against a public servant may also be charged with up to three years in jail and up to ten thousand dollars in fines depending on the circumstances.

To be charged with battery, the prosecuting party will only need to prove that there was any form of willful touching despite the amount of force applied. For instance, as a classical example, spitting at someone is a crime that can be charged with battery if the act was intentional and there was contact on any part of the body.

Legal Defenses Against Assault And Battery

In every assault and battery case, there is a substantial amount of evidence that is not presented by police reports. The facts of the case may either reduce the penalties while they may also increase the penalties. Individuals assault or battery charges can discuss the case with an attorney before entering a courtroom. However, you may not be want to work with an attorney if you have been caught on camera starting and ending a fight. In such cases, your only option may be to accept the consequences. You may need an attorney to help you represent your case especially if there are factors that have been overlooked. For example, if you hit someone out of self-defense, your actions may be reasonable and the charges may not be placed. Furthermore, if you actions are misinterpreted you may need to present evidence in order to drop the charges.

If you wish to examine your case with an attorney, you may speak with the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer at 310-502-1314. We are ready to review your case and provide guidance so that you are not wrongfully convicted.