What Is the Difference between Assault and Battery?

Nov 17, 2022 | Personal Injury

Assault and battery differ primarily in that an assault occurs when someone acts in a way that gives another person the impression that they’re in imminent danger of physical injury, while battery takes place when someone willfully causes bodily harm to another person.

Or, more simply put: whether a physical injury is caused or not is the main distinction between an assault and a battery.

Here are some illustrations of assault and battery to help you understand this better.

  • An Assault Example

James raises his fists and yells at Mark, warning him he will punch him in the face if he continues lecturing him about being late for work. Fearing he’ll be attacked, Mark walks away. 

At this point, James has committed an assault since there was a real threat of harm, not actual violence.

  • A Battery Example

Mark punches James in the jaw after James threatens him. This is battery, because James was physically harmed by Mark.

Another example of battery occurred at the 2022 Oscars, when actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock after the latter made a joke about his wife.

Will would have committed assault if Chris had managed to avoid the smack because, while having no legal justification, he attempted to physically harm another person.

What Are the California Penalties for Assault and Battery?

In California, an assault or battery offense can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, and both carry the possibility of heavy penalties and jail time.

A misdemeanor prosecution could be brought against you if you strike at someone during a heated dispute but miss, for instance. 

This is considered a simple assault — and if found guilty, you risk receiving a fine of up to $1,000, a jail sentence of up to six months, and a probationary period of up to six months.

You’ll face felony or high-level misdemeanor charges if you commit a more serious crime such as an aggravated battery, in which you strike someone with a deadly weapon and cause them great bodily harm.

If you’re convicted, you might get a $10,000 fine in addition to a four-year prison sentence.

If you’ve been the victim of an assault or battery, it can surely be satisfying to see the person who did it charged and found guilty, but it doesn’t have to end there.

A San Diego, California, personal injury attorney can assist you in suing your attacker for compensation for your physical and emotional suffering.

What Damages Will a California Personal Injury Attorney Claim for Assault and Battery?

It might not be worthwhile to file a case for damages if you were the victim of assault or battery but suffered little to no harm as a result.

However, it may be in your best interests to sue if an assault and battery incident results in significant harm. This is especially true if your injuries necessitate hospitalization and extensive healthcare, as well as if you’ve suffered emotional distress.

Victims of assault and battery may seek the following damages through their attorney:

  • Medical Expenses. If severely harmed, treatment will be costly. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for past, current, and future medical care.
  • Pain and Suffering. Due to the injuries incurred, you could experience bodily and mental suffering, which you can claim damages for.
  • Loss of Earnings. You can file a loss of income claim against your attacker if you have to take unpaid time off work to recover from injuries sustained. A loss of future earnings claim is also appropriate if your injuries are so serious that you’ll be unable to work again.
  • Money to Cover Property Damage Repairs. If your property was damaged as a result of the battery event, you can demand that the assailant pay for the necessary repairs.
  • Wrongful Death Claims. A battery victim may pass away from their wounds as a result of the abuse. The victim’s family has the option of pursuing compensation. Funeral fees, emotional distress, and other costs may be covered by this restitution.

Naturally, the attacker’s attorney will make every effort to keep their client out of jail or from having to compensate you for your damages.

To accomplish this, the assailants’ attorneys could assert that the assault and battery incident happened as their client attempted to legally defend themselves, deny they committed it, claim it was an accident, or argue that you consented to the action.

Improve Your Chances of Compensation in Court

For these reasons, it’s crucial that you take the following actions after an assault or battery to improve your chances of succeeding in court against your attacker.

  • Collect Evidence. Photograph any physical injuries you may have, torn clothing, destroyed property, etc., that may help show the extent of the attack.

Try to gather any videos of the incident that may have been recorded by a witness on their phone, for instance, and search the area for any cameras you may use to obtain surveillance video of the attack.

  • Request for the contact info of anybody who may have witnessed any part of the assault or battery occurrence, including the events leading up to it, the attack, and the aftermath.
  • Seek Medical Attention. It’s crucial to receive treatment right away after a battery. If you don’t, your attacker can claim that since you didn’t go to the hospital, you weren’t hurt. The assailant may also claim that your injuries were faked to obtain compensation if you wait to get treated.

You have better grounds for your assault and battery claim if you can show that you sought care immediately and that your injuries were examined.

  • File a Police Report and assist with any subsequent investigation. When reporting the attack, give the police whatever evidence you have gathered and ask your witnesses if they would be prepared to speak with them. 
  • Find out what legal action you can take against your attacker by speaking with a lawyer.

Gallagher Krich, APC: Experienced San Diego, California, Personal Injury Attorneys

The statute of limitations for assault and battery claims in California is two years. Therefore, if you intend to sue your attacker after an assault or battery, you must consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Fill out the contact form below or call (858) 926-5797 to arrange a free consultation with a San Diego, California, personal injury attorney from Gallagher Krich, APC, to discuss your case. Once you contact us, one of our knowledgeable lawyers will review your case’s facts to evaluate whether you have a valid personal injury claim and then provide you with advice on your legal options.

The attorneys at Gallagher Krich, APC, have assisted assault and battery victims throughout California in obtaining good legal outcomes, and we are prepared to use our 30+ years of combined law experience for your benefit.

Contact our offices today, and we’ll take all necessary steps to make sure your assailant pays for their actions. 

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