Assault & Battery

Learning More About Assault and Battery Under California Law

Assault and battery are two separate and distinct crimes, yet they are frequently charged together.

Accordingly, when a person is facing assault charges, she or he often is facing battery charges, as well.

How are these crimes different from one another, and how are they defined under California law?



California Penal Codes 240 defines assault as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”  

To put it another way, you might think of assault as the attempt to touch a person in an offensive or violent way without actually doing so (but with the clear ability to do so). But you can also be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. 


California Penal Codes 242 defines battery, also known as “simple battery,” as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.”  

To put this definition another way, you might think of a battery charge as the “companion” crime to assault.

While assault refers to the attempt to touch a person in an offensive or violent way without actually doing so, battery refers to touching someone in an offensive or violent way.  

The battery does not require that the other person suffer an injury for the crime to be charged.  California law allows a person to face battery charges even if how the defendant touches or makes contact with another person causes no injury or pain at all.  

When the battery does cause pain or injury, it is typically charged as a separate crime of battery involving serious bodily injury.  

The penalties are much more severe for this form of battery upon conviction.  Relatedly, battery that is committed against a spouse or another family member that constitutes domestic violence also involves greater penalties.

Are you facing charges for Assault and Battery?

 It is more important than ever to begin working with an experienced San Diego assault and battery attorney on your defense.

While assault and battery offenses may only be charged as misdemeanors, you could still face jail time in California, along with a substantial financial penalty.

Even if your sentence reflects the minimum sentencing guidelines with limited jail time, you will still have to deal with the effects of having a criminal record.

When you have a record of assault and battery, you may have difficulty getting hired at certain jobs, and you could face other repercussions in your day-to-day life.

At the Law Offices of William R. Burgener, APC,  we are committed to providing experienced representation to each of our clients.