Just about everyone has heard the phrase “assault and battery,” and many people believe these terms are the same thing. However, under California law, they are two separate and distinct crimes that often happen during a single incident, such as domestic violence.
In basic terms, assault is defined as an “attempt” to injure another person. But physical contact is not necessary for a person to be charged. Even a verbal threat or intimidating actions against a spouse or domestic partner can result in assault charges.
On the other hand, “battery” is defined under California statutes as using violent force against another person. Prosecutors must prove a defendant willfully made contact with an individual to inflict bodily harm.
Convictions can lead to severe punishment
Pleading guilty to or being convicted of a domestic battery offense often causes serious and potentially permanent negative consequences, including:
- Mandatory prison or jail time
- Restraining orders
- Lost child custody or visitation rights
- Firearms restrictions
- Paying restitution to the accuser
- Noncitizens face possible deportation
- Lost reputation
- Employment, housing and educational consequences
Domestic battery is a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Those convicted of a misdemeanor face up to six months in county jail and a $2,000 fine. A felony conviction brings a penalty of up to three years behind bars and a fine of $2,000 to $10,000.
Defense against domestic battery accusations
Working with an experienced San Diego domestic violence defense attorney is essential. Your lawyer understands the devastating consequences that can unfold after a heated argument escalates and the police are called, even if an accuser later decides they do not wish to pursue charges. Defenses include:
- Protecting yourself or others
- False accusations
- You weren’t responsible for the accuser’s injuries
- The injuries were the result of an accident
- Police investigative errors
Experienced defense matters in domestic violence cases
Domestic battery cases can be complicated, especially since multiple charges can happen from a single incident. Working with a knowledgeable defense lawyer is the best way to fight false accusations and have charges reduced or dismissed. Your lawyer also understands how completing a domestic violence course can help you achieve a reduced sentence and put your life back on track.