ASSAULT & BATTERY DEFENSE ATTORNEY ORANGE COUNTY CA
Assault and battery is the combination of two violent crimes: the threat of violence (assault) and the use of physical violence (battery), and these crimes are punished harshly under the law in Orange County. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges in Orange County are tough on violent crimes like assault and battery, and a conviction in Orange County can carry a number of serious penalties, possibly including jail or prison time, hefty fines, probation, a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license and a forfeiture of your right to own a firearm, to name a few. You would also have a criminal record following an assault and battery conviction, which could adversely impact various aspects of your life, including where you work and live. If you are facing assault and battery charges in Orange County, don’t hesitate to protect your legal rights. Contact our criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today to find out how to defend yourself against these criminal charges.
Orange County Assault & Battery Defense Attorney
The consequences of an Orange County assault and battery conviction can be devastating for your personal and professional life, but just because you have been arrested for or charged with assault and battery, does not mean you are guilty of the crime. Whether you have been falsely accused of assault and battery, or your assault and battery arrest was simply a misunderstanding, your first course of action should be to contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with experience defending Orange County violent crime cases. These types of charges require immediate intervention by a reputable defense attorney, so you can avoid a conviction and the social stigma of being labeled a violent criminal for the rest of your life. At Seyb Law Group, our attorneys understand how severely a criminal conviction can affect your life and your family, and we strive to give each and every client the personalized attention their case deserves. We also offer potential clients a free initial consultation, which means you can have a skilled criminal defense attorney evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case with no obligation to hire our law firm.
Assault & Battery
Although the phrase “assault and battery” is often used to describe one crime, assault and battery are actually two separate offenses with their own legal consequences. According to Orange County law, the crime of assault involves the attempt to use force or violence against another person, i.e. threatening to injure that person and having the ability to do so at the present moment, while the crime of battery is the actual use of force or physical violence against another person. For example, if you and your friends get into a verbal argument outside of an Orange County bar and you unsuccessfully try to punch someone, you could be charged with assault, even if you don’t actually make any contact. If you follow that up with another punch that strikes the other person in the face, you could be charged with both assault and battery. In some cases, even threatening someone verbally can lead to assault charges being filed, but only if your actions imply that your threat will be carried out.
California Assault & Battery Penal Codes § 240 PC and § 242 PC
Under California Penal Code § 240 PC, assault is defined as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury” against another person, while Penal Code § 242 PC defines battery as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence” against another person. Although the term “battery” conjures up images of severe beatings, you can be found guilty of PC § 242 even if you didn’t actually injure the alleged victim or cause him or her any pain. The law only requires that you touch a person in a harmful or offensive way for battery charges to be brought under PC § 242. In fact, this crime is commonly referred to as “simple battery,” to distinguish the offense from more severe violent crimes that result in a serious injury, such as the separate but related crime of battery causing serious bodily injury, Penal Code § 243(d) PC.
It is important to understand the difference between the crimes of assault and battery and the crimes charged under PC § 273.5, corporal injury on a spouse, and PC § 243(e)(1), domestic battery, which also involve the use of force against another person. The latter two crimes are unique in that they are perpetrated against a current or former spouse, domestic partner, fiancé, boyfriend, girlfriend, cohabitant or fellow parent, which is what constitutes these offenses as domestic violence crimes.
Penalties for an Assault & Battery Conviction in OC
In Orange County, PC § 240 simple assault is a misdemeanor crime carrying a maximum penalty of six months in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. There are, however, certain aggravating circumstances that may result in the maximum assault penalty being increased to one year in county jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, the most common being if, at the time of the assault, the alleged victim was performing his or her duties as a police officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic, doctor or nurse providing emergency medical care, or another public servant or protected official. These increased penalties may also apply to assault crimes committed on school property, park property or the property of a vehicle transportation provider.
The crime of PC § 242 simple battery is also a misdemeanor crime in Orange County, punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines. However, if you commit a battery causing injury against a peace officer or another protected person, and you knew at the time that the alleged victim was a public servant or protected official performing his or her duties, you could be charged with the more serious crime of battery on a peace officer (Penal Code § 243(b) and § 243(c)(2) PC), a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense under Orange County law.
California’s “Three Strikes” Sentencing Law
It is true that simple assault and simple battery are usually prosecuted as misdemeanors in Orange County, but these crimes can also be charged as felonies, when the threat or use of physical violence is carried out against individuals from a “protected category” or is otherwise considered aggravated. Assault and battery crimes that can be charged as felonies in Orange County include:
- Assault with a deadly weapon – PC § 245(a)(1)
- Assault on a public official – PC § 217.1(a)
- Battery causing serious bodily injury – PC § 243(d)
- Elder abuse – PC § 368
- Sexual battery – PC § 243.4
This is especially important because the state of California has a “Three Strikes” habitual offender law in place that significantly increases the prison sentences of individuals convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of one or more serious or violent felonies. If you are convicted of felony assault and battery and you have one prior “strike” offense on your record, you could face double the prison sentence otherwise required by law, and if you have two or more prior “strike” offenses on your record, you could be automatically sentenced to 25 years to life for a new felony assault and battery conviction.
Orange County Assault & Battery Defense
Even as a misdemeanor, assault and battery is a tough conviction to have on your record, one that could affect your employment prospects, professional licensing and immigration status, in addition to burdening you with a potential county jail sentence, costly fines and a criminal record. As serious as the crimes of assault and battery are, it doesn’t take much for an arrest to be made and charges to be brought in criminal court, and many people are shocked when they are hit with Orange County assault and battery charges after a minor altercation in which no one was injured or badly injured. Too often, assault and battery charges are based on a misunderstanding or a false accusation made by someone who wants to see you punished. But that doesn’t mean you don’t still have rights. Remember that, in an assault and battery case, the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor and the prosecutor can only get an Orange County battery conviction if he or she can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements of the crime:
- You touched someone else,
- You did so willfully, and
- In a harmful or offensive manner.
Proving each element of a criminal charge is essential to getting a guilty verdict and if it can’t be done, you can’t legally be convicted of the crime. By challenging the prosecution’s evidence against you and raising questions that create doubt, your attorney may be able to prevent an assault and battery conviction under PC § 240 and PC § 242.
Best Defense Strategies in Orange County Assault & Battery Cases
Being arrested for assault and battery may seem like the end of the world, but with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, there are several powerful legal defenses you can use to fight these violent crime charges. With an aggressive and well-formed defense, you may be able to get your assault and battery charges reduced to a nonviolent offense or possibly even dismissed altogether. Your criminal defense attorney may use one or more of the following strategies to defend you against assault and battery charges in Orange County:
- You acted in self-defense or in defense of another person
- You did not act willfully or intentionally (it was an accident)
- You were acting within your rights to reasonably discipline your child (if you have been charged with battery on your child)
How Hiring an Assault & Battery Attorney Can Help
Understanding the difference between assault and battery in Orange County and how these charges could affect the rest of your life can be frightening and confusing, and you should never face these charges alone. Simple assault and battery is a common enough crime that may be relatively easy to get reduced to a nonviolent offense. However, the reality is that few people are charged with simple assault and battery. Instead, they face more serious criminal charges due to aggravating factors like the use of a deadly weapon or the use of enough force to cause great bodily injury. Whatever assault and battery charges you are facing, hiring an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney could mean the difference between protecting your freedom and your future, and suffering the devastating consequences of a misdemeanor or felony conviction for years to come. Let our criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group help you build a strong defense in your Orange County assault and battery case.
Contact Our Assault & Battery Defense Attorneys Today
The criminal justice system punishes violent crimes like assault and battery harshly and in he said/she said scenarios, the law typically comes down on the side of the alleged victim, who will try to portray you as a liar and a violent criminal. In Orange County, you can be arrested for and charged with assault, even if you didn’t actually lay a hand on anyone, and/or battery, for even the slightest touching, if it is done in a harmful, rude or offensive manner. And even if your Orange County assault and battery arrest was based on an accident or a misunderstanding, the police and the prosecutor will be on the side of the alleged victim and fighting the charges will be extremely difficult, especially if the alleged victim is lying. Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony assault and battery charges, don’t risk a conviction that could adversely affect the rest of your life. Contact our experienced assault and battery defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today to protect your rights and avoid a guilty verdict.