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Vista Assault & Battery Attorneys


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Being charged with a violent crime is an intimidating prospect. Our state has strict laws around accusations of assault and battery that can completely change your life. You face years in prison, loss of certain rights, having to pay significant court fees, and even deportation, whether you are a legal immigrant or not. But you should not give up hope. Assault cases require complex investigations, and there may be significant evidence and testimonies that may get your charges reduced or dismissed.

When you are facing charges of assault and/or battery, it is critical that you work with an experienced lawyer to protect your freedom. At jD LAW, Attorney James N. Dicks is a Vista criminal lawyer with over 30 years of experience in criminal law. He can guide you through the criminal process and help you build an aggressive, effective defense. As a board-certified expert and a former police officer, he brings a wealth of knowledge and time-tested experience to each case.

Schedule a free case evaluation today by calling jD LAW at (760) 630-2000.

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Assault vs. Battery – What’s the Difference?

Although assault and battery are often used together, they are separate charges. In California, assault is charged when an individual engages in an activity that shows the intent to cause bodily harm to another individual, according to California Penal Code 240. With assault, no physical contact needs to have taken place, only the intent to commit violence.

Battery is defined as the “willful” and “lawful” use of force against another individual, as outlined by California Penal Code 241. With battery, actual physical contact and injuries are involved.

For example, punching someone and missing can be considered assault. But if the punch lands and you injure the person, you could be facing battery charges.

These charges can be either simple or aggravated, or enhanced if you are charged with attempting to harm specific groups. California’s assault and battery charges can include:

  • Simple assault
  • Simple battery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Aggravated battery
  • Domestic battery
  • Sexual battery
  • Assault/battery against an elderly or public worker (police officer, firefighters, etc.)

All of these charges are serious, but it is important to understand the differences before you speak to the police or district attorney about your case. Accusations can easily lead to lifechanging penalties if you do not fully understand what you are being charged with. You should only discuss your case with your attorney, who can work to keep the facts straight and prepare your defense the moment you are arrested.

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Penalties for Assault & Battery

Penalties will vary depending on the circumstances of your case, such as who the victim was, how severe the injuries were, whether a weapon was used, or another aggravating or mitigating factor.

Oftentimes, these cases are divided between being “simple” or “aggravated.” The main difference is the severity of your actions. Simple assault can include one individual shoving someone else at a bar. However, it can become aggravated if one of the individuals draws a weapon, such as a knife or gun, or if the alleged victim is a protected individual, such as a police officer or senior citizen.

If you are charged with simple assault, you can face:

  • Up to six months in county jail;
  • Up to $1,000 in fines;
  • Criminal protective order;
  • Counseling or anger management; and/or
  • Misdemeanor probation.

If you are charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault, you can face:

  • Up to one year in county jail;
  • Up to $1,000 in fines or $2,000 if the victim was a protected individual;
  • Criminal protective order;
  • Counseling or anger management; and/or
  • Misdemeanor probation.

Felony assault can vary depending on the specific charge, but generally defendants face:

  • Up to 16 months, two, three, or four years in state prison;
  • Up to $10,000 in fines;
  • A strike under California’s three-strikes law;
  • Criminal protective order;
  • Counseling or anger management; and/or
  • Felony probation.

Battery follows the same rules as assault when it comes to simple and aggravated charges, but the penalties are often more severe. Aggravated battery is often charged when a victim is severely injured or is a protected individual. In all other scenarios, simple battery may apply.

If you are charged with simple battery, then you can face:

  • Up to one year in county jail;
  • Up to $,000 in fines or $2,000;
  • Criminal protective order;
  • Counseling or anger management; and/or
  • Misdemeanor probation.

If you are charged with aggravated battery, then you can face:

  • Up to 16 months, two, or three years in state prison;
  • Up to $10,000 in fines;
  • A strike under California’s three-strikes law;
  • Criminal protective order;
  • Counseling or anger management; and/or
  • Felony probation.

As violent crimes, assault and battery convictions are also deportable offenses, meaning they could impact your immigration status. Whether you are a United States citizen or not, beating these charges requires a thorough and detailed defense strategy. With the right attorney, you may be able to enter a counseling program in North County, such as anger management classes, rather than having to serve time in jail. The San Diego County Probation Department has a wide variety of services and programs to help eligible defendants receive counseling and treatment, including programs here in Vista.

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Building a Strong Defense

Assault and battery cases are rarely ever simple, often having conflicting witness testimonies. While it is the district attorney’s job to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, it is your defense lawyer’s job to go through the details of your case and find weaknesses in the DA’s arguments.

At jD LAW, our founding attorney has more than 30 years of experience actively defending clients against serious charges throughout North County. Before that, he was an LAPD investigator. He understands how the prosecution thinks and how to counter their arguments. There are several defenses he can use to get your charges reduced or dropped, including:

Lack of Intent: Assault is based on the intentions of the defendant, and if you did not intend to harm the other person, then you cannot be charged with this crime. Examples include rough-housing, sparring, or other situations where you and the alleged victim had no intention of harming each other.

No One Was Injured: Battery charges are based on an actual injury, and if the victim was not injured, then your charge may be reduced to simple assault.

You Did Not Act Willingly: With assault and battery, the district attorney must show that you “willingly” harmed, or attempted to harm, another person. If the victim was injured due to an accident, then your charges may be dismissed.

Self-Defense: If you were acting in defense of yourself or another person, then your attorney may be able to get your charges dropped. A self-defense strategy requires showing that you only used reasonable force to protect yourself or others, which can be supported with surveillance footage, witness testimony, or your medical report.

Mistaken Identity: In some cases, people are assaulted at night or in dark areas. Victims may not be fully aware of who attacked them and may make inconsistent statements to the police. This can lead to a false arrest if the police mistake you for the actual attacker.

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Tell Us Your Side: (760) 630-2000

The team at jD LAW understands that there is more to the story than what the prosecutor is presenting. There are many sides to an assault and battery case, and you deserve the chance to share your story. Do not hesitate to talk to our Vista assault and battery defense lawyer about what happened from your perspective. We are ready to listen to you and capable of building a strong defense on your behalf.

We have offices conveniently located in San Diego and Vista. Our Vista office is right across from the North County Courthouse, and we have a strong relationship with the San Diego County criminal courts. If you bring your case to us, you can trust that your defense will be handled by a dedicated and experienced criminal lawyer. Do not allow your future to be put in jeopardy. Call jD LAW today at (760) 630-2000 and schedule a free consultation.

Reach our legal team at (760) 630-2000.

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A note from James N. Dicks:

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.

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