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Can I Be Charged With Assault Or Battery For Spitting On Another Person In California?

Okabe & Haushalter Oct 19, 2018 Criminal Defense

Spitting is the expression of disgust and anger for some people. Sometimes, it isn’t something a person can control. Sometimes, the temptation to show disgust or anger is so strong that people resort to spitting on their target or disgust or anger rather than hitting them.

It often happens that people spit on police officers when getting arrested. Also, people may resort to spitting on one another when engaged in a heated and noisy argument, especially when that altercation occurs in public.

If you think about it, although spitting is quite disgusting, it is not necessarily dangerous. Still, spitting on someone can lead to a criminal charge in California. Let our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Okabe & Haushalter explain in which situations you can be charged with battery or assault for spitting on another person.

Spitting on someone in California: assault vs. battery charges

In California and elsewhere in the U.S., the crimes of “assault” and “battery” are often confused or used interchangeably in conversation. In fact, some people even think that a battery charge and an assault charge are the same things.

Our experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles explains that a person can be charged with battery if they have caused real physical harm to another person. Meanwhile, someone can be charged with assault if the mere threat of harm was present.

So does it mean that you can be charged with neither assault nor battery for spitting on another person since nobody was harmed by spitting? Not really. It is true that spitting on someone is not exactly a violent act, yet it could still lead to assault or battery charges.

Spitting is considered offensive and unwanted ‘touching’

Under California law, even non-violent or non-forceful acts can be classified as “assault” if the prosecutor finds the touching to be offensive or unwanted. When the spit contacts the person, it can be considered offensive and unwanted touching even though you did not actually “touch” another person.

More often than not, spitting on another person does not cause them any harm, especially when someone spits on another person’s shoe, yet it could still be charged as a battery. Interestingly, if you spit into someone else’s food, and this person eats this food, the act of spitting can be classified as assault because the spit made contact with the person.

Prosecutors use spitting charges to get a guilty plea

For the vast majority of prosecutors in Los Angeles and all across California, the act of spitting on someone else will be classified as an attempt to use force or violence. That means you can be charged with assault.

“Spitting on someone can be considered a crime in California regardless of whether the split actually makes contact with the target or not,” sums up our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Okabe & Haushalter.

More often than not, spitting is not reported to the police unless you spit on a police officer during a traffic stop or arrest. In that case, it is very likely that the charges will go through. In most cases, however, prosecutors use charges for assault (for spitting on someone) as a bargaining chip to have the defendant accept a guilty plea in exchange for dropping the spitting charge.

Do not accept any guilty pleas before consulting with a skilled criminal defense lawyer in California. Contact Okabe & Haushalter to schedule a free consultation and speak about your particular case. Call our offices at 310-430-7799.