Implications of Assault and battery (CA Penal Code §240 & §242)

An unidentified man was spending time in a strip club near Jones Street and the 700 block of O’Farrell when things suddenly got out of hand.  It seems that the man began arguing with one of the employees over money.  The woman began to film his inappropriate behavior with her cell phone.  He didn’t like that very much, so he smacked the phone out of her hand, breaking it to pieces.  Evidently, this did not sit well with 15 other men in the club who immediately came to the dancer’s rescue – surrounding him, pounding the man, and eventually running off with his wallet.  The grumpy customer sustained only minor injuries and there were no arrests made in the incident.

Although this charming tale has a relatively happy ending, “assault and battery” is taken quite seriously in the state of California.  The state’s CA Penal Code §242 details the charge of “assault and battery,” which all 15 men could have been charged with had they been caught – and had any of the other patrons or dancers been willing to identify them.  The law states that a person can be convicted of this offense even if no harm or injury is done to the other person.  As long as unwanted physical contact is made, you can be arrested for “assault and battery.”  Legally, this crime is extremely complicated, with distinctions made between what constitutes assault (CA Penal Code §240, in which you behaved in such a way that the use of force with another person is implied: carrying a 6 months sentence in county jail, a $1,000 fine, and community service) versus battery (CA Penal Code §242, in which you actually assaulted someone: with exposure to 6 months in county jail, a $2,000 fine, community service, and a compulsory batterer’s program).