As defined under California law, an assault is “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” An assault is an attempt to injury another person without any physical contact. An assault can take place without being followed by a battery, in which contact is made.
A prosecutor must prove three facts or elements of a Penal Code §240 assault:
(1) that someone willfully acted in a way that would likely result in physical contact with another,
(2) that the person was aware that their “act” would likely result in physical contact, and (3) that when the person “willfully acted” the person had the ability to follow through with the act that would cause that contact.
“Willfully” means with a purpose or willingness to commit the act. It does not refer to intent to break the law or intent to injure another person. It refers to the intent to make the contact with the other person.
“Physical contact” means any touch, no matter how slight, if the touch is done in an angry, harmful or even offensive manner. The physical contact doesn’t have to result in any pain or injury.
A battery necessarily includes an assault. This is because it is impossible to commit a battery (a willful act) without first attempting to do so. As such, an assault is often called an “attempted battery,” while battery is often called a “completed assault.”
How to win the case when being charged with assault
Since knowing the law and the differences between crimes is important to help you defeat charges, you should be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney like Michael S. Carrillo. The Law Offices of Michael S. Carrillo can provide you with just the proper direction on your case and he will seek all avenues in order to do that. Give us a call for a contact us at (626) 799-9375.