|Assault and Battery|
Assault and battery are closely related crimes. A "battery" is the willful and unlawful touching of another in a harmful or offensive manner. An "assault" is simply an attempted battery. The slightest contact can be considered a battery if it was accomplished in a rude or angry way. A victim need not suffer injury for a defendant to be prosecuted for battery. Both crimes may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. The specific way an assault or battery is committed (e.g. Assault with a Deadly Weapon), the place it occurs (e.g. Battery on School Grounds), the status of the victim (e.g. Battery Against a Peace Officer), injuries sustained by the victim (e.g. Battery with Great Bodily Injury), and the intent of the defendant (e.g. Assault with Intent to Commit Rape) can affect the sentence received following a conviction. A talented criminal defense attorney knows the differences between the many varieties of assault and battery and can ensure a defendant's case is not blown out of proportion by an overzealous prosecutor.
Words alone, no matter how offensive or exasperating, do not excuse an assault and battery. However, some forms of provocation may justify a physical confrontation if it includes the threat of physical injury. An assault and battery is lawful if a defendant acts in self-defense. Self-defense is justifiable if the defendant reasonably believed he was in imminent danger of physical harm, the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against the danger, and the defendant used no more force than necessary. Belief in future harm is insufficient, regardless of the severity or likelihood of the harm. Furthermore, a defendant is only entitled to use that amount of force that a reasonable person would use under the same circumstances. Nonetheless, a person is not required to retreat when threatened. A person is entitled to stand his ground and defend himself even if safety could be achieved by escaping. However, self-defense will rarely be recognized by a person who starts a fight. In those cases where a defendant was simply defending himself, an experienced defense lawyer can prepare and present a persuasive case justifying the defendant's use of force.
Considering the range of consequences following a conviction for the more serious varieties of assault and battery, the wisest course of action is to contact and retain the best defense attorney available to ensure the best possible result.
Penal Code sections 203, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 261, 273, & 286
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