Assault and battery charges are one of the most common charges in California. You probably think that assault and battery are the same things, but this is not the case under California laws. Assault and battery are two types of criminal activities and can lead to severe punishment like hefty fines and imprisonment.

At Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, we understand that facing assault or battery charges can be challenging. However, there is no better time to act than now to uphold your legal rights and effectively defend yourself against these charges. If your loved one is facing assault or battery charges in Pasadena and its environs, speak to us as soon as possible to discuss your case, see what kind of defenses are available for you, and your rights.

California Battery, Penal Code 242

California Penal Code 242 defines battery as touching someone willfully in an offensive or harmful manner. Prosecutors must prove every aspect of this definition while charging you for battery crime. Here is a closer look at the key terms of the definition of battery charges.

You Touched Someone

Under the legal definition of battery, you must make physical contact with another person. The touch does not necessarily have to cause any injury on the other person, meaning that even the slightest touch can be a battery.

A battery can also occur even when you touch the victim's clothing or indirectly through an object used to touch the alleged battery victim. California courts also hold that you can commit battery through an offensive touch on something intimately connected with the other person and isn’t an actual part of their body. For instance, knocking an object off another person qualifies as a battery.


You must touch another person willfully to be guilty of battery. "willfully" means that your actions were on purpose and were done willingly. It does not necessarily mean that you intended to hurt the other person, break the law, or gain any advantage through your actions.

This means that you don't have to intend to commit battery to be guilty of this offense, but you should perform a motion that causes the battery.

In an Offensive and Harmful Manner

Touching qualifies as a battery if it's done in an offensive or harmful manner. This means that you did the touching violently, rudely, angrily, or disrespectfully.

Penalties for Battery in California

In California, an act of battery that does not cause severe injuries and isn't committed against a protected person like a police officer is a misdemeanor. The potential penalties for simple battery include:

  • Summary or misdemeanor probation.
  • A maximum of six months in county jail.
  • A maximum fine of $2,000.

Penalties for Battery that Causes Serious Bodily Injury

Battery causing serious bodily injury is a more severe form than a simple battery. This offense is a wobbler with a misdemeanor conviction leading to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. A felony conviction can result in a maximum of four years in county jail and a maximum fine of $10,000. Please note, victims in battery that causes serious bodily injury do not necessarily have to receive medical treatment for a defendant to be guilty of this offense.

California Domestic Battery, Penal Code 243(e)(1)

Penal Code 243(e)(1) is the statute that defines domestic battery in California. Under this statute, it's a crime to willfully touch an intimate partner harmfully or offensively, whereas the action was not in self-defense or defense of someone else.

Under this statute, an intimate partner can include any of the following:

  • People that are living together or cohabiting.
  • Former or current spouses.
  • Someone that you are currently or formerly engaged to.
  • Someone that you're or had once dated have a sexual relationship or intimate relationship.

An intimate partner applies to people of the same or different sex. The term “cohabitant” involves two unrelated people living together for a substantial time and, as a result, has established permanence of the relationship.

Please note that someone can cohabit with two or more people simultaneously. The term dating relationship means frequent, intimate associations where someone expects affection, financial consideration, or sexual involvement.

Penalties for Domestic Battery in California

Domestic battery is a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. A judge might award misdemeanor probation in place of your jail time.

If the judge awards probation, you must complete a batterer's intervention program and might be issued with a domestic violence restraining order ordering you not to harm, harass, or threaten the alleged victim.

California Sexual Battery, Penal Code 243.4

Penal Code 243.4 is the statute that prohibits sexual battery in California. Sexual battery is also referred to as sexual assault. You can commit sexual battery by touching another person's intimate parts against that person's will to gratify yourself sexually, arouse yourself, or abuse that person.

Penal Code 243.4 addresses more aggravated forms of sexual battery in addition to the definition provided above. In these forms of aggravated sexual battery, the alleged victim is usually:

  • Unlawfully restrained by the alleged perpetrator.
  • Institutionalized for medical treatment and is medically incapacitated or seriously disabled.
  • Unaware of the actions since the perpetrator fraudulently represented the touching as a professional service.
  • Made to touch the intimate part or masturbate the perpetrator, another person, or an accomplice.

Under this statute, a person's intimate parts include the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or groin.

You should also note that prosecutors must prove that your actions were against the victim's will. Doing something against your will means that the person didn't consent to the action. A person must act freely and voluntarily by knowing the nature of the action that he or she is consenting.

Penalties for Sexual Battery

The penalties for sexual battery differ depending on whether it is a simple or aggravated form of battery. If convicted for simple or misdemeanor sexual battery, the potential punishment includes:

  • A maximum of six months in county jail.
  • A maximum fine of $2,000.
  • Informal probation for a maximum of five years.

Felony sexual battery is punishable in the following ways:

  • Felony or formal probation.
  • Custody in the state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years with the possibility of additional 3 or 5 years if the alleged victim sustained substantial physical harm.
  • A maximum fine of $10,000.
  • Registration as a California tier three sex offender for life.

California Assault Charges Under Penal Code 240

California Penal Code 240 defines assault as an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury to another person. Prosecutors must prove certain aspects while convicting someone for this crime. These aspects are as follows:

  • You did an action, which by its nature would require an application of force on someone else.
  • The action was.
  • While acting, you were well aware that a reasonable person would believe that the action requires the application of force.
  • While acting, you could apply force on the specific person.

Let's have a closer look at these aspects to understand their meaning vividly.

Application of Force

Application force involves any offensive or harmful touching. The slightest form of touching would count as an application of force as long as it's done rudely or offensively. In California, assault can occur even when the touching does not involve or cause any injury. It can also occur indirectly when you cause an object to touch another person.

Further, you can still be charged with assault even when you fail to apply force on another person as long as you took some actions that would have resulted in force being applied to the alleged victim.


Your actions can be willful if you do something on purpose or willingly. This does not mean that you intended to hurt the other person, break the law, or gain any form of advantage.

You were Aware that Your Action Need Application of Force

As stated, you don't have to use force against an alleged victim to be charged with assault. It’s required to be aware that your actions would lead to force being applied under normal circumstances.

For instance, if someone fires a gun at a person sitting on your vehicle's passenger seat to intimidate you, he will be guilty of assault. That person probably didn't intend to injure your passenger, but since he was aware that he was near your vehicle and there is a good chance of harming another person with the gun, this makes him guilty of assault.

Penalties for Violating California Penal Code 240

Violation of California Penal Code 240 is a misdemeanor. The potential penalties include:

  • A maximum fine of $1,000.
  • A maximum of six months of custody in county jail.
  • Misdemeanor probation.

Penalties for Assault on an Emergency Personnel or Law Enforcement Officer

The penalties for assault on specific victims like law enforcement personnel or emergency officers are steeper. Specifically, you might face heightened penalties if the assault was on someone who engages in the performance of his or her duties as a:

  • Firefighter.
  • Peace officer.
  • Lifeguard.
  • Emergency medical technician or paramedic.
  • Process server.
  • Code enforcement officer.
  • Doctors or nurse providing medical care.
  • Search and rescue member

If the assault is done on one of these officials, and you reasonably knew what you did, the maximum county jail increases to one year, and the fine increases to $2,000.

The maximum fine can also increase up to $2,0000 if you committed the assault on a parking control officer since they are usually potential targets of assault.

Assault With A Deadly Weapon, California Penal Code 245(a)(1)

Penal Code 245(a)(1) is the statute that defines the crime of assault with a deadly weapon. This offense occurs when someone attacks or attempts to attack another person with a deadly weapon with the possibility of causing significant bodily injury.

Prosecutors must prove the following aspects while convicting you under Penal Code 245(a)(1):

  • Your action, by its nature, would require the direct application of force to another person.
  • You acted using a legal weapon or with a force that would cause significant bodily injury.
  • You acted willingly.
  • While performing that action, a reasonable person would believe that the action needed using force on that person.
  • You presented the ability to apply force using the lethal weapon while acting.

Similar to simple assault, the alleged victim does not necessarily have to be injured for your criminal charges to apply. The focus is on whether your actions would have resulted in the application of force, not whether the force happened.

Most of the elements of the crime under this statute are similar to simple battery and assault. The only significant difference between these elements and others is the use of a deadly weapon. Under this statute, a deadly weapon refers to any object or weapon capable of causing significant bodily injury or death. Some of the obvious lethal weapons include knives and guns.

It can also include any other object as long as it can kill someone or cause substantial harm. This include:

  • A broken piece of a bottle.
  • An unloaded gun if used to hit or club someone.
  • A pencil, when used to stab someone.
  • A car when someone attempts to run another person with it.
  • A dog, if commanded to attack another person.

Apart from the significance of deadly weapons in this statute's definition, another common term used is great bodily injury. Under California laws, great bodily injury is a significant or substantial physical injury greater than minor harm. Some examples of substantial bodily injuries include broken bones, dog bites, gunshot wounds, black eyes, and laceration.

Penalties for Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler offense when the weapon used in commissioning the act is not a firearm. A wobbler offense means that you can be charged as a misdemeanor and a felony.

Misdemeanor convictions are punishable by custody in county jail for a maximum of one year, summary probation, and a maximum fine of $1,000. In a felony conviction, the charge is punishable by custody in the state prison for a maximum of four years, formal probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Penalties for Assault Committed with a Firearm

In situations where assault is committed with an ordinary firearm, the offense is still charged as a wobbler, with similar penalties when there is no firearm use. However, the only change that occurs is the reduction of the minimum jail sentence to six months.

The court could convict you with a straight felony for assault with a deadly weapon when committed using a machine gun, a semiautomatic firearm, an assault weapon, or a 50BGM rifle. Penalties for a straight felony include a maximum prison term of twelve years.

Penalties for Assault Using a Deadly Weapon Committed on a Firefighter or Police Officer

Assault with a deadly weapon committed on a peace officer or firefighter with the practical knowledge of who the defendant is is punishable with a maximum of five years in state prison. If a person commits this crime with a firearm, the prison sentence increases up to a maximum of twelve years.

Count as a "Strike" For Assault Using a Deadly Weapon

You can have a count as a "strike" if convicted under Penal Code 245(a)(1), whether you used enough force to produce significant bodily injury, or whether the victim sustained substantial physical injuries. You can also have a "strike" under the California three Strike law if you use a deadly weapon, whether the victim suffered injuries or not.

Immigration Consequences for Assault with a Deadly Weapon

A conviction for assault using a deadly weapon has negative immigration consequences. Non-citizens convicted of felony assault with a deadly weapon can be deported or marked as inadmissible into the United States.

Effect of Assault with a Deadly Weapon Conviction on Your Gun Rights

A conviction under this statute can have adverse effects on your gun rights. Under California laws, felons cannot own or possess a gun. Since a conviction under this statute can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, a felony conviction would have you lose your gun rights.

Assault Crime On A Public Official, California Penal Code 217.1(a)

Penal Code 217.1(a) is the statute that defines assault crime on a public official. This is a form of aggravated assault in which the public official is the target person. In most cases, the offense occurs when the defendant is retaliating or preventing the public official from performing their official duties.

Prosecutors must prove some aspects while convicting you for this crime. This includes:

  • You committed an assault.
  • Against a public official or the public official's immediate family.
  • The assault was meant to retaliate or prevent the performance of the official's duties.

Here is a detailed view of some of the elements of this crime.

Public Official

Under this statute, a public official can be any of the following people:

  • The president or vice president of the United States.
  • The governor of a U.S states.
  • A local, federal, or state judge.
  • A commissioner, referee, or subordinate judicial officer.
  • A federal or state elected official.
  • A mayor, county supervisor, city council member, or municipal chief of police.
  • A current or former public defender.
  • A current or former prosecutor.

Immediate family members of these officials include their spouses, children, siblings, stepchildren, step-siblings, or stepparents.

Motive Behind the Assault

One of the crucial facts of this statute is the motive behind the assault on the public official. You can only be guilty of this crime if you assaulted the public official while retaliating or preventing a public official from performing their official duties.

This means that if you assault a public official, but this has nothing to do with their official duties, you cannot be guilty of this crime. However, it can make you guilty of regular assault or assault with a deadly weapon.

Penalties for Assault on a Public Official

Assault on a public official is a wobbler. Misdemeanor convictions are punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, and misdemeanor probation. A felony conviction attracts penalties that include formal probation, custody in county jail for 16 months, two years, or three years, and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Assault With A Caustic Chemical, California Penal Code 244

Penal Code 244 is the California statute that defines assault with a caustic chemical. Under this statute, it's a crime to throw or place an explosive or an acidic substance on someone to disfigure or injure that person.

Prosecutors must prove the following while convicting you under this statute:

  • You willfully and maliciously.
  • Threw, placed or caused to be thrown or placed.
  • Caustic chemical, flammable substance, corrosive substance, or vitriol.
  • On another person.
  • To disfigure or injure him or her.

Under this statute, a caustic chemical includes any substance that can corrode or burn living tissues. Vitriol is one of these acidic substances and refers to sulfuric acid and its related compound. Flammable substances include substances with a flashpoint of 150 degrees. Flashpoint is the lowest temperature that a liquid-vapor can ignite. Substances with low flashpoints are more easily ignited.

Penalties for Penal Code 244

Assault with a caustic chemical is a felony. The potential penalties include:

  • 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison.
  • A maximum fine of $10,000.

The judge might decide to impose felony probation other than the penalties mentioned above. If you are sentenced to probation, you must serve at least one year of county jail custody. the court might subject you to other conditions like:

  • Regular meeting with your probation officer.
  • Payment of victim restitution.
  • Participation in a group or individual therapy.
  • Compliance with a protective order from the victim.

Find an Assault and Battery Crime Attorney Near Me

A conviction for any form of assault or battery charges can be devastating. Luckily, a professional criminal attorney can build solid defense strategies to help dismiss or reduce your charges. At Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, we are committed to helping our clients understand the accusation against them and build strong defense strategies to fight for their rights. Call us anytime at 626-628-0564 and learn how we can help you.