Many times, when someone is under arrest or involved in a serious altercation, they may spit at the other person if they don’t have a free hand to do anything else. Alternatively, people may spit at someone to show their disgust or anger rather than hit them. Unfortunately, even though spitting isn’t particularly dangerous, it may still lead to criminal charges in California. For help with your charges for spitting at or assaulting someone, contact the Ventura assault defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today.
When is Spitting Considered Assault and Battery in California?
The crimes of “assault” and “battery” are closely linked. While battery is the offense of striking someone else or using “force or violence” against them, assault is the attempt to use violence while you have the “present ability” to harm them. Spitting on someone is clearly not a particularly violent act, and, unless you spit in their eye, you are unlikely to harm them. Still, this could be charged as assault and battery.
California law is quite broad in what it considers “unlawful use of force or violence upon the person” in Penal Code § 242. In some cases, even non-violent or non-forceful acts can be considered assault if the touching involved in the case is offensive or unwanted.
While spitting on someone does not mean you came into direct contact with them, when the spit contacts the person, it is still considered an offensive or unwanted touching. Even if there is no way that this could lead to harm, such as spitting on the person’s shoe, it could still be charged as battery under § 242. Spitting into food that they will eat can reportedly even be considered assault because the spit eventually makes contact with the person.
In addition to battery, the crime of “assault” under Penal Code § 240 is also available for spitting. This crime covers the attempt to use force or violence rather than the actual contact. This means that spitting toward someone is a crime in and of itself, whether the spit makes contact or not. That means that even if you miss, spitting toward someone can constitute the crime of “assault,” even if it does not constitute the crime of “battery.”
Can I Beat Charges for Assault from Spitting at Someone?
If you spit at someone in a very aggressive way, or you spit on a police officer, it is possible that the charges could go through. However, most cases of spitting are not reported to the police and would never be reported as a crime. In most cases, charges for assault are tacked on to other charges, such as charges for resisting arrest.
If you are involved in another altercation involving police, it is likely that the police and prosecutors will charge you with any crimes that are legally applicable. This would include charging you with assault for something as non-violent as spitting. They do this for a few reasons. First, if the crime legally applies, it is fully within their job duties to charge you with the offense. Second, if the crime was committed against police or against a victim in the presence of a police officer, they may take this offense personally and do everything they can to ensure you have heightened penalties. Lastly, they may charge slight infractions as full-fledged offenses to use these charges as bargaining chips.
A prosecutor’s goal, in many cases, is to avoid trial by having the defendant plead guilty. If you face multiple charges, and one of them is assault for spitting, it is unlikely that the prosecutor wants to take the spitting case to trial. They may offer to drop the spitting charge in exchange for a guilty plea to other more offenses, potentially even offenses with lighter penalties. It is important not to accept any plea offers without discussing your case with a criminal defense lawyer, since deals like this may not be fair to you if the crime does not fit what happened in the first place.
If you were charged with assault and battery for spitting on someone, your criminal defense attorney can fight this case in court. While it may meet the legal definition, a judge may be willing to dismiss the case as “de minimis,” since the charges are for only a very small, slight violation of the law. Alternatively, your lawyer may be able to show that the facts do not match the legal definition of force or violence or argue that you otherwise did not commit the crime. Ultimately, you may be acquitted by a jury or have the charges dismissed by the judge.
Assault Defense Lawyers in Ventura, California Offering Free Consolations
If you or a loved one was charged with assault for spitting in California, contact our Ventura defense lawyers today. These kinds of charges seem far too strict for an offense like this, and our lawyers may be able to help you fight the charges against you and work to have your case dropped or dismissed. To schedule a free consultation with our defense attorneys, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.