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What Are the Two Main Defenses in a Battery Case in California?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Being charged with a crime can be detrimental. Allegations alone can cause rifts in relationships and hardships at work and even hurt your reputation in the community. This is particularly true for the crime of battery which alleges you may have physically contacted another person with the intent to harm. While these allegations can be quite serious, the accusation alone does not mean guilt. There are many times when charges of battery are wrongfully filed.

Each case is unique and deserves the right defense based on the allegations against you. Understanding the dynamics of the charges can help make sense of the defenses that could help in fighting them. In every case, your criminal defense attorney will review the police statements for inconsistencies or contradicting testimony. They will seek to gain statements from potential witnesses to understand all the dynamics of the case.

Assault vs. Battery

Often, you may hear the phrase “assault and battery.” While they can be associated easily with each other, they are two separate crimes and need to be charged as such. This common phrase leads to complications in understanding the actual law.

The crime of assault is defined by Penal Code 240 and occurs when a person has the ability and access to physically harm another person. This is not the actual physical crime itself. In fact, a threat alone can be enough to charge a person with assault.

Battery, on the other hand, is defined by Penal Code 242 and occurs when there is physical contact with another person. The two crimes are often coupled with each other because one naturally follows the other. However, they are not interchangeable and often require different types of defenses.

Two Common Defenses for Battery

When a person is arrested for battery, they may immediately think of any number of reasons why they needed to commit the act. While there are several defenses, the right defense that fits the circumstances of your case can help lead to the acquittal of your charges or have them significantly reduced or dismissed.

The two most common defenses in battery cases are self-defense and defense of others.

  • Self-Defense – This may seem straightforward. You were attacked and therefore were attempting to defend your own physical well-being. However, to prove this, you will need to prove that the other person was the attacker through photo, video, or witness statements. This defense can be difficult when left to one word against another.
  • Defense of Others – Like self-defense, if you are using physical contact against another person to defend someone else, then you may be justified in your actions. However, like self-defense, this should be proven through witness statements or photo and video evidence. One advantage to this defense is that there is likely another person to corroborate the circumstances. The person you are defending is likely to serve as your witness.

Other Common Defenses of Battery

While self-defense and defense of others are the two most common, there are other ways to defend oneself if arrested for an alleged battery crime. Other defenses include:

  • Misidentification – Mistaken identity can be common in many cases. If a witness or the victim themselves incorrectly identifies you as the perpetrator, you could use the defense that the police arrested the wrong person.
  • Alibi Defense – Commonly used in conjunction with mistaken identity, this could prove that you were in a different location than where the crime allegedly occurred.
  • Consent – In some instances of battery, there was aggression on both sides that led to an argument between both parties involved, resulting in a mutual fight.
  • Defense of Property – The law does not outright allow for a person to physically defend their property; however, there may be instances where your property was stolen or forcibly taken where you may be entitled to use force in return.
  • Accident – Battery must be the willful physical connection between two parties. There could be a reasonable defense against battery charges if the alleged contact was an accident.

In any case of the alleged battery, the defense must show that use of force, if any, was reasonable for the circumstances. Reasonable means that other individuals who are in the same situation would have a similar response and are therefore acting within reason.


Q: What Are the Defenses for Battery?

A: There are many ways to defend against the charges of battery. Common defenses include defense of self, defense of another person, defense of property, mistaken identity, or consent. The circumstances of your situation will help to identify the best defense. Defending battery charges should show a reasonable judgment in the situation. If another person would reasonably act in the same way, then it is more defensible.

Q: What Is ‘Assault and Battery’?

A: The crimes of assault and battery are often charged together. Assault is the threat of violence against another individual and must include the means and opportunity to carry out the threat. Physical contact does not have to occur for an assault to be charged. The charge of battery occurs when there is direct physical contact with another person with the intent to harm. Often it is charged after an assault.

Q: How Serious Is a Battery Case?

A: Battery, like many crimes, can be charged on different levels. Simple battery, for example, carries the potential for up to a year in jail and fines. Aggravated battery, on the other hand, could entail lengthy prison time and increased fines. If the battery charges are sexual in nature, the result could be significant prison time, increased fines, and possibly having to register as a sex offender.

Battery Defense Attorney

Allegations of battery can have far-reaching consequences if not properly litigated. If you or someone you know has been arrested on charges of battery, get the legal help that you deserve. Every case is unique, and your circumstances may require the help of an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney. At Exum Law Offices, our attorneys are ready to handle your case. Contact our offices today and let us answer your questions.