This analysis explores Los Angeles assault and battery cases. While these violations often begin as verbal arguments, they quickly escalate into more serious incidents. Assault and battery cases sometimes stem from neighborhood disputes, may be domestic in nature (i.e., husband/wife), and may involve participants who have had no prior contact with each other before the incident.
In the 20+ years which I have been involved in justice system, I have observed a few contributing factors which are prevalent in assault and battery cases; consumption of alcohol/or illicit drugs by some or all participants, “bad blood” between parties, and/or a perception of insult/disrespect by one or more participant.
The first person from an incident who calls the police often gets an early opportunity to steer the case in their favor. Why is this? When one person calls and waits for the police and the other person leaves the scene, it creates a perception by police that the missing participant has fled because of a consciousness of guilt. While this perception may be incorrect, and can be overcome in some cases, it can be difficult to “un-ring the bell” of the initial reporting party. However, it can also create criminal liability to speak to police about an incident without fully understanding their investigation process.
Thus, if you have been involved in an incident of assault or battery, it is important for you to understand your rights and potential risks you are facing. How you proceed immediately after the event may dictate the direction of the case, i.e., whether you are considered a suspect or victim. You should quickly seek legal representation.
A Los Angeles Assault and Battery Attorney can evaluate the details of your situation, determine the best options to document the event and plan for legal defenses, decide whether and how you cooperate with police, and prepare you for the process of a criminal investigation.
4 Consequences of Formal Assault and Battery Charges
Assault and battery cases carry serious consequences. If an allegation of assault or battery is filed in court against you, the judge will likely initiate a restraining order, prohibiting contact with you and other parties involved in the event. This usually occurs at the first court appearance, the arraignment, and prior to any trial. If you live in close proximity with the other people involved in the event, you may be required to live elsewhere, at least until the case is resolved.
Next, if you own any firearms, you will be required to relinquish them to local police.
Third, any restraining order will appear in police databases, and characterize you as a potential danger to society. Any complaint, true or not, which suggests you have violated the restraining order may subject you to immediate incarceration.
Fourth, if you have a professional license, have applied for citizenship or new employment, or are in the process of any of these, an assault or battery allegation may cause negative consequences to these outcomes, even without a conviction. You will need an Assault and Battery Lawyer to explain the direct and collateral consequences, or refer you to an attorney who specializes in your specific area of concern.
What are the Elements of Assault and Battery?
The crime of assault, a misdemeanor, is defined in Penal Code section 240. A common misunderstanding about “assault” is that physical contact or some injury is required. However, the opposite is true. An assault only requires that someone, who has the “present ability,” attempts to commit a violent injury on another. For example, if a person tries to strike someone else in the face, but misses because the person dodges the blow, this may still be sufficient to constitute an assault.
More complex assault cases involve weapons and vehicles, and are charged in section 245 of the Penal Code. Again, these types of cases require no physical contact or actual harm, but can result in felony criminal charges and substantial custody sentences.
Assault cases involving “force likely to cause great bodily injury,” deadly weapons, such as knives, metal knuckles, firearms, as well as vehicles, have the potential to cause serious injury or death, and are vigorously pursued by police and prosecution agencies. Bail is typically set at $35,000 or higher for these felonies. Special allegations related to any injury, or personal use of weapons, can increase bail amount.
Battery charges are generally misdemeanor level, and defined in Penal Code section 242. This violation requires a “purposeful” force or violence on another person. Any contact, however slight, can result in a battery allegation, if that contact was willful. Battery charges become more substantial, and felonious, if the contact results in serious bodily injury to the victim. A single punch from one person to another, which causes that person to inadvertently fall over and break an arm, will likely result in a felony battery case in criminal court. This is true even though the punch was not designed to cause the fall.
Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges
Accusations of assault and battery vary in outcome, depending on cooperation of participants and witnesses. Disinterested witnesses who do not personally know the participants of an assault or battery typically provide credible statements which police document during their investigation. When no witness is a neutral observer, the police attempt to evaluate veracity of each point of view, to decide if an arrest is to be made.
Self-defense may be considered a legal “defense” to assault or battery, and plausible evidence of its existence is required to allow admission in a trial. Your attorney can discuss the pros and cons of providing this type of evidence to police prior to court, as well as pursuing this strategy in trial.
Copyright © 2016-7 Law Offices of George Kita. All Rights Reserved