When you are facing an assault or battery charge, robust legal defense may protect your rights and potentially shield you from hefty fines and jail time. Whether a person falsely accused you of assault or you acted in self-defense, the circumstances of your case will significantly influence its results.

These are the most common legal defenses for assault and battery charges in California.

Self-defense

If the assault occurred in response to a threat to your well-being, you can argue that you acted in self-defense. Generally, you must prove that you were facing the danger of harm by unlawful force from another person, that you had an honest and reasonable fear of bodily harm, that you did not harm the other person before this danger arose and that you could not escape or otherwise avoid assaulting the plaintiff to protect yourself.

You must also prove that you used comparable force and were of similar size and age as the plaintiff. If the other person withdrew from the confrontation, you can no longer inflict harm under the tenants of self-defense.

Property defense

When it comes to using violence to protect your home, property or place of business, California adheres to the castle doctrine. Under this law, if another person invades your personal property, you can use deadly force to drive them away without an obligation to first retreat. As with self-defense, however, force in a property defense incident must equal the potential threat as perceived by a reasonable person who forcefully and unlawfully enters your home.

Consent

In California, battery includes any unwanted touching, while assault is the threat of unwanted touching. Some defendants successfully argue that the plaintiff consented to the act in question and therefore has no grounds for a lawsuit.