April 9, 2024 By Wallin & Klarich

You Can Be Convicted Of Assault And Battery For Hitting Someone At A Protest | Penal Code Section 240, Penal Code Section 242

A Southern California man was found guilty for punching a journalist when he attended a pro-Trump rally in Huntington Beach, California. During the rally an altercation occurred and the accused, a Trump supporter, punched a journalist in the face. 

This blog is intended to explain what are the elements of the crime of assault and battery in California.

What is Assault and Battery?

The crimes of assault and battery are governed by California Penal Codes 240 and 242. California Penal Codes 240 and 242 specifically address the offenses of assault and battery, providing a legal framework for their prosecution. PC 240 outlines assault as an unlawful attempt, and a present ability, to commit a violent injury on another person. This definition emphasizes the importance of both the attempt to cause harm and the capability to do so, even if no physical contact occurs.

Meanwhile, PC 242 defines battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. This includes situations where physical contact is made without the consent of the other person, regardless of whether the contact results in injury. Together, these penal codes establish the criteria for assault and battery charges in California, showing the distinctions between the intent to harm (assault) and the act of making unlawful physical contact (battery).

The punishment for assault and battery in California vary based on the severity of the offenses and the circumstances surrounding each case. For a misdemeanor assault under PC 240, you may face penalties including fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in county jail. However, more serious assault charges, or those involving specific victims such as police officers or emergency personnel, can lead to enhanced penalties, including the possibility of a prison sentence. 

Battery charges under PC 242 also carry significant consequences. A simple battery is typically treated as a misdemeanor, with potential penalties including fines reaching up to $2,000 and/or up to six months in county jail. However, aggravated battery, which results in serious bodily injury, may be charged as a felony, leading to more severe penalties. Felony battery can result in fines and state prison time ranging from 16 months to three years, depending on the specifics of the case.

Additionally, both assault and battery convictions can involve other repercussions such as mandatory anger management classes, community service, restraining orders, and the potential loss of the right to own or possess firearms. It’s important to note that specific circumstances, such as the use of a deadly weapon  can greatly influence the sentence imposed by the court. 

What if My Emotions Are Heightened As a Result of a Political Rally? 

It is important to note that it is not a defense to the crime of assault and battery if you lose control of yourself and strike someone and claim you did so due to the comments of a speaker at a political rally.  Despite the powerful impact such figures can have on public sentiment, particularly among impressionable younger individuals, the legal system maintains a clear stance. Persons that incite violence, intentionally or not, do not absolve perpetrators of their actions. For instance, if a person, influenced by a rally’s charged atmosphere, assaults a reporter, they are solely responsible for their actions and subject to the full extent of the law. This can include jail sentences and other legal consequences outlined under California’s Penal Codes.

Furthermore, there’s an ongoing debate about the accountability of those who encourage violence, either directly or indirectly, through rhetoric or actions. While you are responsible for your own actions, the question arises whether those who substantially contribute to an environment conducive to violence should also face legal scrutiny, potentially being considered as co-conspirators. This area represents a complex intersection of free speech and responsibility for the consequences that speech may incite. Nonetheless, the fundamental principle remains that you must bear the responsibility for your actions, without legal exemptions based on external influences, however prominent they may be.

To minimize the risk of an altercation at an emotionally-charged political rally, you can take several proactive steps. First and foremost, it’s important to remain aware of your surroundings and the mood of the crowd. If tensions seem to be escalating, distancing yourself from the more hostile areas is a good idea.  Sticking with a group of friends or like-minded people can also offer a degree of safety, as there is safety in numbers. Engaging in calm and respectful dialogue, if conversations with those of opposing views become inevitable, can help de-escalate potential conflicts. Additionally, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of rising anger or aggression within yourself and to step away to cool down if necessary. Avoiding the consumption of alcohol or substances that might impair judgment can also play a critical role in maintaining control over your actions. Ultimately, attending with a mindset focused on peaceful expression rather than confrontation will help ensure that you will not be involved in any legal action following the event.

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you are facing assault or battery charges, you need an aggressive defense attorney on your side. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients win their cases or get their charges reduced. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible result in your case. 

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and years of freedom. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to avoid prison. We have offices in Irvine,  Pasadena, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Torrance, Victorville, West Covina, and Anaheim.

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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