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In California, simple assault is penal code section 240, and what is an assault essential is its an attempted battery. Meaning you’re trying to hit someone in a rude or unlawful manner but don’t and it can come in many forms: a missed punch, something thrown close to someone that doesn’t hit them. Likewise, there are those types of defenses to assault for example if something is just thrown which is something you see quite often and not thrown near somebody. Sometimes I’ve seen these cases charged like that and its not sufficient enough for an attempted battery if it’s not close enough to the person. Likewise, there are defenses of self-defense for assault mistake or accident. There’s sometimes duress which means someone made you do it. Both assault and battery are very fact-specific and there are a lot of different defenses. You can raise for them once you know what the basic underlying facts are.