Can I Be Charged with Assault or Battery for Defending Myself?

Assault and battery are common charges most people are familiar with, but many do not understand how the law makes a distinction between permissible conduct and criminal acts. As defined by California P.C. 240, assault charges entail the following elements:

  • Committing an act that would likely result in applied force to another;
  • Acting willfully and with the knowledge that such an act would cause another to believe applied force would result; and
  • You had the ability to apply force when you acted.

California’s assault law applies to any situation where there is an attempt to apply force, regardless of whether an injury resulted. For example, you can be charged with assault for throwing an object, spitting, and even threatening force with the means and ability to apply that force. Battery (P.C. 242), which is a separate or distinct charge, requires a person to have actually used force or violence against another.

When it comes to situations and confrontations from which assault and battery charges often result, it is possible that individuals can be arrested by law enforcement officers at the scene of an incident. This may be due to conflicting evidence or witness statements, inappropriate assessments, or when there are visible injuries. Whatever the case may be, it is important to remember that just because you have been charged, does not mean you are guilty of a crime.

Self-Defense & Assault / Battery

If you or a loved one have been arrested and charged with assault or battery as a result of defending yourself, you have the right to challenge the government’s allegations and state your side of the story. Prosecutors must prove a number of elements inherent to these crimes in order to gain a conviction, and those elements can be challenged with the help of a proven defense attorney like those at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP.

To assert a defense of self-defense, you must show the following:

  • You believed, with reason, that you were in imminent danger of being harmed or touched unlawfully;
  • You believed, with reason, that using force immediately was necessary to defend yourself against that danger; and
  • You did not use any more force that was reasonably necessary to defend yourself.

The unique facts and circumstances surrounding your incident will dictate how you can prove that you acted in self-defense. This is why it becomes critical to work with attorneys who have the experience to highlight particular issues in order to demonstrate just that. For example, you must prove that your belief of being in danger and use of force were reasonable. In situations where you were threatened first and then approached by the individual who threatened you, there is ample opportunity to illustrate your reasonable fear and use of force. Our attorneys focus on these particulars and apply the law to range of situations.

If you wish to discuss a pending criminal case and how our legal team can help, do not hesitate to contact us for a FREE and confidential consultation. Our firm represents clients throughout Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and the surrounding areas of Southern California.