Violence may be a natural response to anger or fear for people in California who find themselves in volatile situations.

State law addresses various criminal offenses in regard to violent activities and the penalties for them, whether or not they involve the carrying out of violence.

Simple assault

When the offense is simple assault, FindLaw notes that the law’s definition involves attempting to harm another person with illegal violence. This does not necessarily require actual harm, but refers to the attempt itself. All that a prosecutor needs to prove simple assault is the defendant’s ability to harm and the intent to do so.

A conviction of simple assault is a misdemeanor and could result in a county jail sentence of as long as six months. The penalties could also (or instead) include up to $1,000 in fines, restitution to the victim and probation.


The act of making willful violent contact with someone is battery, and the severity of the charge depends on the seriousness of the injury inflicted. The charge may also be more serious if the person injured is a police officer, emergency response technician, firefighter, school employee or other similar public servants.

The offense may be a misdemeanor or a felony, and sentencing may range from six months to three years in a county jail or prison, fines of up to $10,000, probation and restitution to the victim.

Aggravating factors

A prosecutor may press for more severe penalties if he or she can prove that there were aggravating factors. The California Penal Code lists a number of these, such as the involvement of a firearm or other deadly weapon, and the intent to cause great bodily injury.