Pursuing a Civil Lawsuit for Assault and Battery
In California, certain legal issues can go through both the criminal justice and the civil system. That means an individual accused of a crime can face both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit. One of such issues concerns assault and battery. Those who are victims of assault and battery may choose to move forward with a civil lawsuit. Regardless of the criminal consequences, the victim can sue the defendant and receive damages. This article provides only a brief overview of a possible lawsuit. If you are considering suing an individual due to assault and battery, we encourage you to reach out to us and be represented by our experienced civil litigators.
Specifics on a Lawsuit
First, it is important to define the terms. Assault and battery are two different legal actions and both parties should understand the terms of the lawsuit. Assault refers to a threat or imminent contact that could result in injury. The defendant must have made the threat knowing that the plaintiff regarded the threat as true. Furthermore, the defendant must be able to carry out the threat. For example, a five-year-old child’s threat to beat up a muscular older, adult man would not be viewed as plausible.
While assault refers to the threat of violence, battery is the actual act of injury, which includes everything from offensive contact to physical harm. In California law, the act of battery has to result in injury, but the injury can be minor – it does not have to result in life-threateningly injuries. As well, the defendant must have intentionally caused the injury through force.
A person can file a lawsuit even if the defendant has not been found guilty in a criminal court. The burden of proof in a civil case is lower than a criminal one (the criminal burden is called beyond a reasonable doubt) and different procedures apply. If the judge and/or jury determines that the defendant was more likely than not to have committed the assault and/or battery, then the defendant can be forced to pay damages to the plaintiff (the victim). Damages can include those for medical expenses as well as punitive ones. If you are involved in an assault and battery case, immediately reach out to us for more help.