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Assault and Battery

Many instances of assault and battery are not reported to police. The victims usually want to move on and not drag out a lengthy legal process. Many, also are too fearful of retaliation and do not take any steps to get compensation or punish the perpetrator. Of the assault and battery cases that are reported, and the fact that there is a lack of reporting, the number of those assaulted is very high. For example, there were roughly 104,000 cases of aggravated assault in California in 2017 and these types of particular cases are more dangerous than simple assault cases. Simple assault is reported to the police less than 20% of the time when compared to aggravated assault. Thus meaning that victims may generally only go to the police if they feel appropriately harmed or if the assault were particularly egregious. Aggravated assault is most often carried out by knife, with 33% of cases involving a blade of some kind. Nearly a quarter at 23% involve a firearm; around 11% occur by hand. There may be different charges that can be filed depending on the weapons used, if any. Between 50 and 60% of assault and battery cases were brought on people the victim knew, such as friends, family, and acquaintances. This number is shocking for most, as it indicates that you are most likely to be injured by someone you know, whether from an argument or a misunderstanding, to a heated exchange or premeditated harm. Assault cases have dropped over the years, though, even though there is still a fair amount that happen beyond or outside of the public eye or law enforcement’s gaze. Simple assault is reported about 17% less of the time, while aggravated assault has decreased by 25%. This certainly gives credence to the notion that we are living in the safest recorded times.


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Assault and Battery Definition and Laws

Assault is defined as an attempt to harm another individual, or the threat to use force. The victim must have been aware that a reasonable person would have conceivably believed that the threat was actual, and that the perpetrator had the capability to inflict harm or apply force to the victim. Perhaps the most important aspect of assault cases is that there is no necessity of physical force; that is, you can file for damages from assault if you weren’t hit or harmed. Verbal assault exists, and it can result in emotional or psychological damage. Battery is the actual follow-through of the physical force. It involves any strike, blow, or harm inflicted by the perpetrator. The amount of force or the level of harm does not have to be particularly significant in order for you to sue for battery. Aggravated assault is a felony act that involves an assault committed with a weapon, or with the intention of committing a serious crime. Aggravated assault can usually precede or include rape, vicious beatings, robberies, and more. Sexual assault generally falls under this subcategory of aggravated assault, as it does not have its own specific law, but it does have specific definitions and punishments. There are ways in which a person can defend against claims of assault and battery. The most common is with consent; for example, if the parties consented to the likelihood of physical damage, such as in a boxing bout, there is no case for a lawsuit. There is also the possibility of self-defense or defending another person or your property from harm. The stipulation, though, is that the amount of force applied cannot be unreasonable or excessive. Some charges carry more severe penalties than others. Assault and battery of a police officer, assault of a minor, armed robbery, and more can all carry extremely harsh penalties and are generally expressly prohibited to the extent that most defenses do not succeed.


Negligence in Assault and Battery Cases

If you wish to file an assault and battery claim, you must prove that the responsible party was negligent in his actions or inaction. The important note about negligence is that it does not only have to be one singular person it can be numerous people or even entities. Therefore, if you were hurt at an establishment, you could potentially take action and hold the business responsible. There are four points of negligence that must be proven if you follow through with a lawsuit. They are as follows:

  • You were owed a duty of care by the responsible party

  • The duty of care was breached in some manner

  • The breach of duty led to an incident

  • The incident led to actual physical injuries

Individuals have a duty to not hurt others, while establishments have a duty to protect those on their properties. For example, bar owners and bartenders have a duty to cut off anyone who is visibly drunk or disorderly. If they continue to give a person alcohol and the person acts violently towards another individual, the bar could be held accountable for the actions. They had a duty to not let other patrons be placed in harm’s way, and by not limiting the intake of the perpetrator or not escorting him out, they have liability. This concept may fall under premises liability, which concerns individuals on private property (although trespassers are given much fewer rights and leeway in torts). This negligence can also be seen in employers and employees. If an employee hurts a customer, the company can be liable for the damages. This may include police officers who act with excessive force, which would force the law enforcement agency to be held accountable; security guards who violently escort or break up crowds at venues or clubs, making their hiring companies liable; and normal workers who may attack customers in any store. There is the issue of comparative negligence, which can hold the two separate parties of plaintiff and defendant accountable for the incident. It is possible that victims of assault and battery were heavy instigators in the incident or placed themselves in dangerous situations. This can be the case if a victim initially picks a fight and verbally threatens another person, who then reacts and harshly beats the other. A jury may find that the perpetrator who acted with excessive force was primarily negligent, but if he acted the way he did because of instigation, the victim could be held partially responsible.


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