Even the most peaceful person can sometimes end up in situations that turn violent. Sometimes standing by and doing nothing is not an option.
If the police arrest you and accuse you of assault or battery, you need to understand the charges and the defense options.
Assault and battery are not the same things
Under California law, assault refers to an attempt to do severe harm to someone. Battery is a separate charge used when actual harm takes place. So if you try to hit someone, a court could convict you of assault. Yet if the punch never lands, they should not convict you of battery.
What defenses are possible to these charges? Consider the following:
- The other person is making it up: A woman you dated accuses you of giving her a black eye. She does this because she is afraid of her husband. He gave her the black eye when he found out she had seen you.
- It’s a case of mistaken identity: Someone is attacked outside a bar, and eyewitness identifies you as the culprit — but they’re wrong. You were in the area, but you ran away (just like everyone else) when the violence started.
- You acted in self-defense: Yes, you karate kicked the other person in the head. They did not tell the police that they were trying to cut you with a broken bottle at the time.
- You acted to protect someone else: You stepped in to prevent the person from attacking someone else.
If accused of a violent crime such as assault or battery, it is crucial to seek legal help. If found guilty, you could face severe penalties such as jail time and fines. A criminal record could also affect you for the rest of your life. It may limit your ability to apply for specific jobs or housing. There are often two sides to every story.