Is Spitting on Someone Considered Assault in California?

Spitting on another person is widely considered to be extremely rude, disrespectful, and unsanitary. But is it actually a crime that could lead to criminal charges? The answer is yes—under certain circumstances, spitting on someone may be considered assault and battery under California law.

If you have been accused of assault for spitting on someone, it is important to understand the legal implications and work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. In this article, we will explore California laws regarding spitting on others, potential charges and penalties, and legal defenses you may have.

Is Spitting Legally Considered Assault in California?

In California, assault and battery are separate but related crimes defined under the state penal code.

  • Assault involves attempting to commit violence against someone when you have the “present ability” to cause harm. No physical contact is required.
  • Battery is defined as any willful, unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. Physical contact must occur.

Spitting directly on another person may potentially be charged as assault and/or battery under California law. Prosecutors may argue that spit-making contact with someone constitutes offensive touching, meeting the standards for the battery.

Even if spit does not directly hit the other person, spitting in their direction could potentially be charged as assault. The act demonstrates an attempt or intention to make harmful or offensive contact.

However, context matters. Spitting during a heated argument or while being detained by police will be viewed differently than spitting accidentally or spitting on the ground near someone’s feet.

Prosecutors have discretion on whether to press charges for spitting, and assault or battery allegations may be easier to fight in court depending on the specific circumstances.

What are the Penalties for Spitting on Someone in California?

If convicted of misdemeanor assault or battery for spitting at or on another person, potential penalties under California law may include:

  • Up to 6 months in county jail
  • Fines up to $2,000
  • Informal probation
  • Anger management classes
  • Restitution to the victim

Penalties increase for assault or battery committed against protected groups like police, elderly and disabled persons. Spitting could also lead to felony charges if the victim sustains substantial injuries.

It is important to keep in mind that prosecutors often overcharge defendants initially. An experienced Sacramento criminal defense lawyer can argue to get charges reduced or dismissed where appropriate.

What Defenses Can Be Used Against Spitting Allegations?

While spitting charges should always be taken seriously, experienced criminal defense attorneys can challenge allegations and build an effective defense by:

  • Contesting intent – Arguments that the spitting was accidental or you didn’t intend to spit on the victim.
  • Questioning harm – Emphasizing that the spitting caused no injury or pain to dispute battery charges.
  • Disputing offensiveness – Explaining mitigating circumstances like provocation by the victim to reduce the act’s offensiveness.
  • Challenging credibility – Undermining witness testimony and accounts if inconsistent or contradicted by evidence.
  • Pursuing alternatives – Seeking pre-trial diversion programs, deferred entry of judgment, reduced charges, or non-criminal resolutions.

In cases with little evidence, credible defenses, or mitigating factors, charges can potentially be reduced or dismissed pre-trial. An experienced Sacramento assault lawyer can advise if taking the case to trial is the best option.

What To Do If You Are Facing Charges for Spitting on Someone

Here are some steps to take if you have been accused of spitting on someone:

  • Remain silent – Do not admit guilt or make statements to the police. You have the right to remain silent.
  • Hire an attorney – An experienced criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights, review allegations, and build your strongest defense.
  • Gather evidence – Any photos, videos, medical records, or witness accounts could help contradict the charges. Share everything with your attorney.
  • Consider alternatives – Explore options like deferred entry of judgment programs that can lead to reduced or dismissed charges.
  • Follow your lawyer’s advice – Trust your attorney’s guidance on accepting a plea deal or taking your case to trial.

Being charged with assault can disrupt your life, even if you believe the allegations are unfounded. An aggressive defense attorney can stand up for your rights, dispute exaggerated charges, and work toward the most favorable resolution in your case.

Can I Legally Punch or Kick Someone If They Spit On Me?

  • No – you can only use reasonable, proportional force for self-defense.
  • Punching or kicking someone who spit on you is likely to be considered retaliatory, not self-defense.
  • You could face assault and battery charges for punching or kicking back.
  • Only use the minimum force reasonably necessary to stop an active attack. Once the threat is over, any further force can lead to criminal charges against you.

What If Someone Spits on Me – Can I Get Compensation?

  • If convicted of assault or battery for spitting, the spitter may face civil liability.
  • You can sue for compensation for emotional distress, medical costs, lost wages from missing work, etc.
  • Punitive damages may also be awarded to punish malicious behavior. Consult a civil attorney.

Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer at The Nieves Law Firm

The attorneys at The Nieves Law Firm in Sacramento have extensive experience defending clients against assault, battery, and other criminal allegations in California.