Assault: California Penal Code 240

An assault (Penal Code 240) is similar to a battery (Penal Code 243) which is, essentially, the “willful use of force or violence upon another,” only the actual act is not carried out. This means that there has been a threat that places the alleged victim under reasonable fear of physical contact with another person to which that other person has not consented. The terms assault and battery often go together, but not always.

Our attorneys at the Law Offices of David Chesley have the experience and dedication necessary to handle your assault case. We will asses your situation and build the best defense possible.

There are several different types of assault and battery charges in California law:

  • Assault with Deadly Weapon (PC 245) If Great Bodily Injury (GBI) is charged, the crime is elevated to a “Strike.”


  • Simple Battery (PC 242)


  • Sexual Battery (PC 243.4) (See also Sex Crimes)


  • Battery on a Spouse or Girlfriend/Boyfriend (PC 273.5) (Also known as Domestic Violence)

Defenses against Assault and Battery Charges

Attorney David S. Chesley has successfully represented many people charged with assault and battery. After examining your case, he can propose many different types of defense, including:

  • Lack of intent, such as an accident. The crime of battery requires that the defendant actually intended to commit a ‘willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.’ If the injuries were made by accident, it does not qualify.


  • Self defense. It is not assault and battery if you were simply defending yourself from an attack.


  • Defense of other people or defense of property. Similarly, it does not qualify as an assault or battery if the physical contact were made against someone trying to attack other people or property.

An important factor in any assault and battery defense is the extent of the injury. If the alleged victim has slight or no injury, it most often is charged as a misdemeanor. If significant injury occurs, such as cuts requiring stitches or broken bones, then the offense is charged as a felony. In some cases, the offense may be charged as a strike under California’s “three strikes” law.

If you have any question or concerns regarding a criminal case, contact us for free consultation. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and a legal professional is waiting to speak with you.