Civil Assault and Battery in Plain Language

Assault and BatteryI have heard many people throw the term of assault around to describe someone being physically abused. The purpose of this article is to describe what the civil tort of assault and the civil tort of battery are in plain language.

The legal definition of civil Assault is; an intentional act which causes a reasonable and imminent apprehension of a harmful or offensive contact which is un-consented. I know, it sounds like a bunch of gibberish.

Civil Assault basically boils down to this; if someone gets in your face and raises their hand as though they’re going to hit you, and ordinary people in a similar circumstance would believe the same thing, you have just been assaulted. Civil assault does not require or an actual touching, or physical contact to be legally actionable.

The legal definition of a Civil Battery is; an intentional act which causes a harmful or offensive contact which is un-consented. Yes I know, what does that mean?

Civil Battery basically boils down to this; if someone hits you, and you have not consented to being hit, you have just been battered.

In the civil realm, battery can take many forms. For instance, a battery can occur if someone intentionally hits or touches something that is connected to you. An example of this type of battery would be; let’s say you are holding a paper plate full of food, and someone hits the plate purposely to knock the food at of your hand; you have just been battered. Another example of this type of battery would be; let’s say you are sitting in your car and someone comes up and hits your car purposefully; you have just been battered.

I am not going to go into a dissertation on the multitude of possibilities here. The purpose of this article is just to describe an assault and battery is in plain language. So you now know that assault, and battery, are two separate torts. Each is a distinct and separate tort, which is a separate legal cause of action.

In the civil realm, you have a right to sue for assault and battery if you are the victim of these torts. With respect to damages, you are not only entitled to all damages proximately caused by your being assaulted and/or battered, and you may also be entitled to punitive damages.

Punitive damages are punishment damages. Many of you have heard the term punitive damages and do not know what it means. In civil law, punitive damages are ordinarily allowed by statute, or for common law torts involving intentional acts. Punitive damages are allowed for particularly egregious conduct.

If you believe you been the victim of an assault and battery in the state of California, you may call me for a free consultation at 818-584-8831 extension 1, or visit my website at

If you believe that you been the victim of an assault and battery in a state other than California, I suggest that you consult with an attorney from that state to determine if you have a cause of action.

By Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq. , Copyright 2006

14 Responses to Civil Assault and Battery in Plain Language


    I had eye surgery and in the post-op pack was MAXIDEX(dexamethasone) drops by Alcon Labs.

    Two days later I was BLIND


  2. My daughter was hit in the face by a drunk student this 2AM in the morning in a parking lot at a local bar at University of Central Florida in Orland, Florida. She went to the doctors this AM and they took X-rays and she has a broken tooth a swollen jaw. He was arrested and I can’t get the records until Monday. What should I do in the meantime? I know you are from CA. but I need a good lawyer for Orlando, Florida to handle this. Thank you.

  3. Good afternoon,

    I was the victim of a battery on NOv. 15th 2009. I was sucker punched in the face while DRIVING my car. I was flash ko’ed for a few seconds, resulting in my car going over the curb. I was pulled out of the car and thrown to the ground backwards, hitting my head on a curb, resulting in a deep laceration on my head. As I was trying to get to my feet, I was kicked repeatedly in my head and ribs. I made it back in my car and took off to the E.R.
    I called the police from the hospital and the person was arrested for battery.My injuries include: 5 staples in my skull to close the wound from the curb, a fractured nose, two black eyes and a deep fingernail gouge on my cheek. I also have multiple cuts and bruises.

    Other personal identifying info edited out.

  4. My son was at a local mall and was waiting on his girlfriend when a security guard who likes to hassle the kids,told my son & his friends to leave .my son & his friends complied and was leaving,my son made a comment to his friend,which the guard heard and became hostile and got into my son’s face and kept stepping into my son’s path preventing him from leaving and then threaten to have him arrested for trespassing. He then banned my son indefinate. I understand malls are private property but this guards behavior was totally uncalled for and i’ve already complained to management to no avail. Would this fall under the catagory for civil assault?

  5. I just wanted to thank you for answering my question so quickly. I wanted to ask what type of attorney would I need to consult with?

  6. My son (13 yrs old) was in a Cal. mall. He arrived too late at a mall store. Mgr (33 yrs old) tells him & friend, store is closed. My son murmured “F—” to himself and walked away. Mgr of store stops what he is doing,opens gate,hurriedly catches up to my son,grabs his shirt at rt. shoulder asks him what he said, my son says nothing, then mgr punches my son’s rt eye & returns to store. Police report taken,Mgr charged, son is taken to hospital and released. Mgr’s boss states that store is not liable for med. bill because mgr was off clock. We and PD viewed mgr exit store,punch son and return. Who is liable/what recorses do we have?

  7. Richard, per California law, I would say that you are the victim of a battery. Unfortunately, I can only help you at this point if this was a California or Federal case because I am a California attorney. Since this incident if not a California case, I cannot provide assistance.

    I suggest that you contact a personal injury attorney in your State ASAP for assistance.


  8. Well Karen I can only speak to California law and/or Federal law since I am a California attorney. Pursuant to California law this would not only be a civil assault, but possibly a false imprisonment. (kept your son to a bounded area and or created a reasonable belief that he could not leave)

    However, you there are privileges in certain circumstances whereby a person may not be liable for the assault. In California there is a law enforcement privilege, and a shopkeepers privilege for an example. Law enforcement can use reasonable force to effect an arrest. Shopkeepers can use reasonable force to detain in cases of suspected shoplifting.

    In the case of your son, it sounds to me like the security guard may have overstepped his bounds.


  9. In California, a store or business has been held liable for the criminal acts of its employees that were done during the course and scope of their employment. This is called the doctrine of respondeat superior.

    I say that you should pursue a case against the store. Why don’t you call me today at 800-816-1529 x. 1 so that we can discuss the case.

    Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq.
    Attorney at Law

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