Assault and Battery in San Diego, California

Assault and battery are terms often used in conjunction with each other, but they are actually two different, though related, charges.


Under Penal Code 240, an assault is a misdemeanor charge with penalties that can include enrollment in a batterer’s intervention program, community service, probation, a $1000 fine and up to six months in jail.

To prove assault, the prosecutor must show that:

  • You knowingly acted in a way that did or was going to result in the application of force on another person
  • You were capable of committing the application of force against another person
  • You intended to harm the other person

You are not guilty of assault if:

  • You were acting in self-defense
  • You were defending someone else
  • You had no intent to harm the other person


Battery is essentially the same as assault except that there must be some sort of physical contact. The contact doesn’t even need to cause pain if it was done in anger, disrespect or in some other offensive and unwanted manner.

The range of penalties is the same (batterer’s intervention program enrollment, community service, up to six months in jail) except the fine can be as much as $2000.

To prove battery the prosecutor must prove that you intentionally used force or violence against another person and actually had contact with them.

The Difference Between Assault and Battery

The difference between assault and battery comes down to contact. One simple example would be if Bob got angry at Jim and threw a punch, but missed and hit the wall. In this case, Bob could be charged with assault. However, if Bob’s punch landed squarely on Jim’s jaw like he intended, he could be charged with battery.

While that example is pretty clear and straightforward, there are many other examples that might surprise you. For example, if someone accidentally makes you spill your coffee at Starbucks and you in turn swat their latte out of their hand, you could possibly face battery charges. As you can see, assault and battery charges can be complex and nuanced, which is why you’ll need an experienced criminal defense attorney if you’re facing assault and battery charges.

If you have been charged with assault and battery in San Diego, California or the surrounding areas, call the Seneca Law Group at (619) 630-8529. We will put our criminal defense experience at your disposal to make sure you are fully informed about the legal process you’re facing and make sure your rights are being upheld.

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