Assault and battery are two commonly heard words in the context of criminal law. However, California residents may not be aware that the two terms have different meanings. While the focus of this post is not on their differences, one distinguishing factor between assault and battery is whether the alleged attacker in the event physically touched their alleged victim.

An assault in California does not require an individual to touch their alleged victim, while a battery does require such contact. In both contexts, though, individuals who are facing assault and battery charges may be able to use self-defense to overcome the allegations that have been made against them. Readers are encouraged to use the information contained in this post as an introduction to the concept of self-defense but should be aware that this post provides no legal advice.

Self-defense may be a valid defense to an assault or battery charge if the person facing criminal charges was not the initial aggressor. That is to say, if a person is attacked and responds with violence to protect themselves or deter their attacker, their actions may be justified even if they leave their attacker with injuries. When self-defense is alleged as a part of a criminal defense strategy a court may evaluate if the response taken by the defendant was proportionate to the threat they faced from the initial attacker.

Self-defense, defense of others, and defense of one’s home may all become relevant when Californians are put in the difficult position of confronting others who threaten their health and safety. Criminal defense lawyers work with people facing these and other challenges and can support their efforts to protect their freedom and their rights under the law.