Assault & Battery

It is common to hear the terms “assault” and “battery” in conjunction with one another. But in California, the two are separate charges in the criminal context. Cal. Penal Code § 240-248, et. seq. Assault is when a person attempts and has the ability to commit a violent injury on another person. Battery is when a person actually uses any willful and unlawful force or violence upon someone else. We have seen defendants convicted of simple battery for touching the alleged victim in an offensive way, even though he or she did not suffer any kind of pain or injury.

Types and Punishment

There are different types of assault and battery, all carrying different penalties. Some examples are as follows:

Simple assault, usually a misdemeanor, is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, whereas simple battery is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000. Punishment for either crime may also include imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months or, if a felony, punishable in county jail or state prison for a minimum of 16 months, and up to three years.

Assault against peace officers, firefighters, EMTs, or certain other public servants carries a heftier fine of up to $2,000, and/or imprisonment in county jail for up to one year. In a battery case, the fine is capped at $10,000.

Assault with a deadly weapon or instrument is punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to one year and state prison for up to 12 years and/or fine up to $10,000, depending on the type of weapon used.

The type of assault and/or battery charged and subsequent punishment depends on the facts of each case, such as the crime scene (i.e. occupied building, aircraft, park), the alleged victim (i.e. age, disability, type of profession), and the deadly weapon or instrument used (i.e. bat, knife, gun)


There are defenses to assault and battery charges. A criminal attorney may argue self-defense, defense of others, or insufficient evidence of intent to act willfully.

A Strong Defense for Your Assault Case

If you have additional questions, contact Nicco Capozzi, a Fresno, CA assault & battery attorney, at (559) 374-2012.