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What Can I Do After Being Charged with Assault While Drunk?

On Behalf of | Nov 12, 2019 | Criminal Law

Alcohol Use Can Inflame Tensions and Result in Violence

Though the holidays are often a time of celebration, sometimes the free-flowing alcohol can result in long-held stress or resentments spilling over. When this happens, intoxicated individuals are more likely to make violent attacks due to reduced self-control and/or failure to notice escalation. If you’re accused of assault or battery due to a drunken disagreement, you could also face charges for a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication.

Assault & Battery Laws in California

Credible threats of violence or violent attacks could land you with charges of assault and battery, respectively. Both charges can result in jail time and high fines. If you’ve been accused of either (or both), it’s a good idea to get an experienced assault and battery attorney on your side. Our team has helped clients negotiate reduced charges or dismissal of their cases. Lower penalties disrupt your life much less after a criminal charge.

What Is Assault?

You don’t have to hurt another person to be charged with assault. An attempt to, coupled with the means to cause harm to another, can land you charges. Assault is considered a misdemeanor in California and if convicted you could owe $1,000 in fines and spend up to 6 months in jail. Especially for someone who may have inadvertently escalated a disagreement or made a threat with no intent to follow through, these punishments are harsh.

If you were accused of assault while intoxicated, you may be able to argue that because of your state, you didn’t have the ability to follow through on threats or mount a violent attack. Drunkenness itself is not an excuse, but its effects can be used to push back against assault charges.

What Is Battery?

Battery is a more serious charge than assault, assessed when the prosecutor believes they can show the assailant’s attack was willful. If this attack does not cause serious bodily injury, it is punishable by fines of up to $2,000 and up to 6 months in county jail. If it does, depending on the severity of the harms, the assailant could face either up to a year in county jail or between 2 and 4 years in prison.

Because battery charges assume intent, you could be able to get one reduced to an assault charge if you can prove the damage was mistaken. However, intoxication is not a valid defense; anyone who chooses to drink or use drugs is considered responsible for any effects those substances have on their judgment.

Another Related Charge: Sexual Battery

Sexual battery charges can be brought when a person is:

  1. touched in an intimate area
  2. against their will
  3. for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.

Sexual battery charges are the most serious in the category, with punishment ranging from up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine (for misdemeanor charges) to 2-4 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines (for felony charges). You may be able to dispute these charges by challenging the intimate nature of the contact or the purpose behind it, but don’t wait to get help. Sex crimes can have a serious impact on your reputation and, therefore, many other parts of your life.

Additional Charges for Intoxication

You may think being charged with assault or battery is the only consequence of getting into a drunken fight, but prosecutors may also decide to charge you with disorderly conduct. Public intoxication can be a crime if the accused is:

  • Unable to keep themself or others safe
  • Blocking streets, sidewalks, or other thoroughfares

Rehabilitation May Work Better than Deterrence

Alcohol use is often linked to violent crime, but though the accused may not be in charge of their faculties, law enforcement expects the threat of high penalties to dissuade these behaviors. Instead of piling on punishments, we believe the law should help habitual users change their drinking patterns. Studies have found directed care by a physician, nurse, or therapist can help reduce rates of alcohol consumption and intoxicated assault.

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