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What’s the difference between assault and battery?

Apr 12, 2022 | Firm News

You often hear of a violent crime referred to as assault and battery. While both crimes are often combined in popular culture, the truth is that there is a significant difference between them. Understanding these differences is crucial if you or someone you love receives a criminal charge.

You should also understand the types of punishments that can occur after a conviction. California takes violent crime very seriously, which can result in significant punishments. This guide goes over some key facts to consider, so you can ensure your rights remain protected.

Definition of assault

While assault is often thought of as actual physical violence, that is not the case. Instead, assault refers to an illegal attempt to commit a violent act on another person when the capability exists. Accordingly, a person can receive an assault charge without actually committing a violent act.

Assault charges incur possible fines and jail time, and sometimes both punishments can occur at once. When it comes to fines, the maximum for the crime is $1,000. The maximum jail term is six months, unless certain conditions apply. If the crime involves a police officer, paramedic, or other emergency personnel, the maximum fine increases to $2,000, while the maximum jail term is one year.

Definition of battery

Unlike assault, battery charges involve the intentional use of force to commit a violent act on another person. Basic battery charges incur a jail term of no more than six months and a maximum fine of $2,000. However, it is also possible to receive elevated penalties if certain conditions exist.

For instance, committing battery against a police officer or emergency personnel increases the amount of jail time you may receive. If convicted, you could face up to one year in jail, as well as the maximum $2,000 fine. In the event the instance of battery results in serious bodily harm, jail terms can increase to two, three, or four years.