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Differences Between California Penal Codes §§ 240, 242, 243 and 273.5

Assault Penal Code Section 240 and Battery Penal Code Section 242

California Penal Code Section 240 defines assault as an attempt to commit a violent injury on someone else. Assault is usually discussed in connection with the battery, though they are two different offenses. Penal Code Section 242 differs battery from an assault as it requires that the defendant actually use force or violence against someone else.

The prosecutor must establish the following elements to convict the defendant of assault under PC Section 240:

  • Defendant acted willfully
  • Defendant’s act was a direct and probable result in the application of force to another person
  • Defendant was aware that the act would likely result in application of force to another person
  • Defendant had present ability to apply the force.

Defendant can face up to six months in a county jail and a fine up to a maximum fine of $1,000.

The prosecutor must establish the following elements to convict the defendant of battery under PC Section 242:

  • Defendant unlawfully and willfully touched another person in an offensive or harmful manner.

Assault is generally referred to as an attempted battery. Assault may have taken place without the occurrence of a battery, since physical contact is not an element of an assault charge. The crime of battery necessarily requires an assault. Defendant can’t unlawfully and willfully touch another person (battery) without firstly making an unlawful attempt (assault) to do so.

Battery PC Section 242 and Spousal Battery PC Section 243

California Penal Code Section 242 defines the crime of battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. In California law battery is a misdemeanor crime and the defendant can face up to six months in a county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

In case defendant commits a battery on a person who he has a relationship with, he can face more severe punishment. Under California PC Section PC 243(e)(1), the crime often referred to as “spousal battery” occurs when defendant uses violence or force against:

  • Current of former spouse
  • Cohabitant
  • Parent of the child
  • Someone he is or was engaged to
  • Current or former significant other person

A spousal battery conviction is a misdemeanor with up to one year in a county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Defendant may also be required to enter a batterer’s program and pay up to $5,000 to a battered women’s shelter.

Corporal injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant PC Section 273.5

The crime of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant under PC Section 273.5 is similar to spousal battery under PC Section 243. The crimes involves the same people with whom the defendant has a relationship as under PC Section 243(e)(1). The difference between these two crimes is that for being convicted defendant must have inflicted some type of injury upon the victim.

The prosecutor must establish the following elements to convict the defendant under PC Section 273.5:

  • Defendant inflicted corporal injury on a current of former spouse, current or former partner, current or former cohabitant, parent of the child
  • Defendant intentionally inflicted the injury
  • As a result of use of force the victim has suffered a traumatic condition, whether a serious or minor wound or any other injury to the body.

In California law this crime is a wobbler offense, with either a misdemeanor or felony conviction. If convicted of a misdemeanor, the defendant will face up to one year in  a county jail and a fine of up to $6,000. If convicted of a felony the defendant will face two, three or four years in state prison and a fine of up to $6,000.

 

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