Assault and Battery

Our San Diego Defense Attorney for Violent Crimes can be the solution you were looking for

Many people confuse assault and battery due to the fact that they are commonly coupled when filing charges against an alleged offender. While both crimes are serious offenses and carry serious penalties if convicted, the difference between them is quite significant. If you or someone you know has been accused of, or arrested for, any assault related offense it is important to consult and enlist the services of an experienced and aggressive defense attorney. Understanding your rights and the parameters of your violation is imperative to maintaining your livelihood. So without wasting any more time get in touch with our San Diego Defense Attorney for Violent Crimes right away!

Assault is classified under Penal Code 240-241 and is generally defined as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”

The crime of assault carries a wide range of possible penalties depending on the severity and nature of the offense. For instance, an assault on a police officer or an assault with a deadly weapon carry enhanced penalties.

Assault with a deadly weapon occurs when an alleged offender threatens or attempts to inflict harm or bodily injury upon the person of another using a deadly weapon. Obvious deadly weapons include knives and firearms (even an unloaded firearm). Additionally, seemingly innocent objects such as bottles, pencils, rocks or cars can also be considered deadly weapons if they are used in a threatening manner. Hands and feet are seldom considered deadly weapons; however, kicking and biting may result in these more serious charges due to the fact that they actions often cause very serious bodily harm. It is also important to remember that, as with simple assault, bodily harm does not necessarily have to occur.

Assault likely to produce great bodily injury occurs when the type of force used is significant enough to result in great bodily injury. In many cases, this charge may be paired with ‘assault with a deadly weapon’ charges if the circumstances warrant as such; this creates a scenario where additional charge can now be filed against the defendant.

Battery is classified under Penal Code 242-248 and is generally defined as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” In other words, if the alleged offender threatens (assaults) someone by any of the means outlined above and then proceeds to inflict bodily harm or injury upon their person, then the charge becomes assault and battery.

Similar to Assault, the penalties for Battery depend on how the offense was committed, the severity of the injury caused, and the classification of the victim (child, elder, police officer, firefighter, etc.). Both Assault and Battery can be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances.

Considering the wide range of possible assault charges and the gray area that exists between them, it is very important to consult and enlist the services of an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible in the event of an arrest or accusation of assault and/or battery. The legal team of Ashby Sorensen will perform a thorough investigation of your case and attempt to interview witnesses of the incident.

Assault offenses are not to be taken lightly as they can prove extremely detrimental to your future, livelihood and reputation. Your ability to gain employment or rent a residence may also be impaired if your criminal record contains an assault or battery conviction.

One of the most important aspects of handling a case involving Assault, Battery, or both, is to prevent sentencing enhancements from being attached. In some instances, crimes that could potentially be charged as felonies can be tried as misdemeanors if a skilled criminal defense attorney acts quickly.

Assault With A Deadly Weapon

San Diego defense lawyer for Assault with a Deadly Weapon (ADW) and Assault with a Firearm (AWF). ADW & AWF are classified under Penal Code 244 and 245 and cover a wide spectrum of separate offenses, depending on the type of weapon used. Assault offenses that carry the highest sentences are those which are:

committed using semi-automatic or high-caliber guns;
likely to produce great bodily injury (presumed when a firearm is used); and
committed against a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical professional engaged in the performance of his or her duty.

Sentences for Assault with a Deadly Weapon or Firearm can range from between “up to one year in county jail” to “twelve years in state prison” and fines of up to $10,000.


Manslaughter is classified under Penal Code 192 and is defined as “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice.” There are three statutorily identified forms of manslaughter:


Voluntary Manslaughter

A killing of another human being “upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.” Essentially this means the killing, while intentional, was not “premeditated” or planned out, and the defendant didn’t have time to reflect on the wrongness of it. Voluntary Manslaughter is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 3, 6, or 11 years.

Involuntary Manslaughter

A killing that accidentally results from a criminal or dangerous act performed without due caution. In some cases Involuntary Manslaughter may be reduced to the lesser offense of “Criminal Negligence.” Involuntary Manslaughter is punishable by imprisonment for two, three, or four years.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Occurs when a vehicle is driven in an unlawful or dangerous manner and results in the accidental killing of another human being. If the collision with the victim was intentional, the defendant will likely also be charged with murder. Vehicular Manslaughter, depending on the circumstances of the case, is punishable by either imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year or two, four, six, or ten years in state prison.

Cases involving the death of a human being are inherently complicated because the most important witness – the victim – is unavailable. As a result, the Prosecution must rely on other evidence from the scene to prove intent and malice in order to build a case for murder. By eliminating either one of these elements, the charge of murder may be reduced to manslaughter, which carries a much lower sentencing schedule.


Murder is classified under Penal Code 187 and is defined as “the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” Murder is generally regarded as the most serious of crimes and the only crime for which the death penalty can presently be imposed.

Because the crime of murder carries such high penalties, the prosecution is afforded significant resources in hiring forensic experts, blood-spatter analysts, ballistics experts, DNA analysts, psychologists and other expert witnesses to build to the strongest case possible. In order to combat the prosecution’s attacks, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney familiar with the complex and intricate scientific aspects of homicide cases and who is experienced in cross-examining the prosecution’s expert witnesses.

Reduction to Manslaughter

Overcoming a charge of murder does not necessarily require a complete acquittal. By definition, Murder is the killing of another with “malice aforethought.” That means the killing must have been planned out and thought about or resulted from another felony that was planned out. If these elements can be eliminated, the prosecution will be forced to seek a conviction for the lesser offense of Manslaughter, which carries far less harsh penalties.

Avoiding the Death Penalty at all Costs

In the most serious murder cases, the prosecution will seek the death penalty. Murder trials are generally split into two separate phases: the guilt phase and the penalty phase. If the jury in the guilt phase renders a verdict of guilty, the trial will then move into the penalty phase where the jury will determine the punishment the defendant will serve for committing the murder. Because guilt has already been established at this point, the focus of the trial is shifted to aggravating and mitigating circumstances. The prosecution must prove aggravating circumstances — aspects of the murder that tend to prove the defendant is deserving of the death penalty. Conversely, the defense must prove mitigating circumstances, which detract from the heinousness of the killing, or prove that the defendant was not in his right mind at the time of the offense. Preventing a death sentence after a guilty verdict has already been entered is a complicated and difficult endeavor.

If you or a loved one is facing prosecution for murder, it is of vital importance that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Building a winning defense against a murder charge takes time and often requires complex scientific analysis. Contact our office today to learn more.