In California, the law considers the crime of assault a severe offense. However, assault might be a complex topic. Do you commit assault when you beat another person? Assault is identical to or related to the battery. The consequences of the crime can have a lasting impact on your life. You could face prison and jail terms alongside a criminal record, excessive fines, and probation. After facing the charges for the crime, you might feel tempted to explain your story to the arresting officers or even the prosecution team. But, it is essential to note what you say could be used against you in the criminal court. So, you want legal help from an aggressive simple assault attorney.
We act quickly at the California Criminal Lawyer Group to ensure you fight the charges. Our attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of California assault laws. We are prepared and always ahead of the prosecution team to ensure we identify contradictory evidence, violations of your rights, and procedural errors. Therefore when the police arrest you, you contact our attorneys as soon as the police arrest you over assault charges.
What is the Legal Meaning of Simple Assault?
The crime of simple assault is outlined under California PC 240. Assault means unlawful attempt coupled with the present ability to perform a violent injury to another person. In many cases, people confuse battery and assault. But you want to understand the two crimes are different and attract different punishments. Battery involves inflicting violence or force on someone else, while assault means inflicting physical injuries. The law outlines the crime of battery under California PC 242. Remember, both offenses are treated severely, and if charged with any of the two, you must work with your attorney to help you fight the charge.
What are the Elements of Simple Assault?
For the prosecutor to find you guilty of the crime, they must know all the elements of the crime. So, if they find it challenging to prove the elements, you will not face conviction. The following are the potential elements of simple assault:
You Committed an Action Likely to Lead to Application of Force
The prosecutor must prove you had the intent to impose the physical force against the victim. Note the application of force can include offensive or harmful touching. Remember, any form of touch may count as assault. The touching also consists of any touching connected to the victim like their purse, clothing, phone, or another object.
The law considers any touching assault even when it does not result in injuries. Again, the assault does not necessarily need to be direct. You might face a charge when you make an object to touch the victim. The prosecution team does not necessarily need to prove whether the touching resulted in the application of force. The prosecutor is more concerned with proving why your actions would amount to an assault.
You Knew Your Actions Would Result in the Use of Force
The prosecutor needs to prove you knew that your actions would result in the application of force. For example, when you decide to intimidate the victim by firing a loaded firearm in their direction, the act would be considered an assault. As per the law, you must have known your action would result in applying force against the victim. So, you can argue you had no idea your behavior would result in the application of force against the victim.
You Acted Willfully
Another critical element the prosecutor must prove is that you willfully acted while committing the crime. The court describes a willful act as breaking the law intentionally, hurting someone, or gaining any advantage. It means you had a purpose for committing the crime. Therefore the prosecution team must show you intended to commit an act that could result in offensively touching the alleged victim. The law classifies an act as assault when you aim at causing physical injuries, even when you make a playful gesture.
Present Ability to Use Force
The prosecutor must prove you had the present ability to commit assault. So, the prosecutor must show you were in a position to commit the crime. For example, pointing a firearm at the alleged victim without even causing threats can be considered a present ability.
The Legal Penalties for Simple Assault
According to the California laws, you can face misdemeanor charges when violating PC 242. But this will appear only when you do not have aggravating factors surrounding you or when you are not a repeat offender. The potential penalties include:
- Summary probation
- A six months jail term
- A fine of up to $1,000
However, the assault sentence might be enhanced in several situations. In many cases, sentence enhancement will apply when you commit a crime against certain groups of people. The law describes certain people as “protected.” It means when you commit a crime against these people, the sentence and penalties would be higher than normal. The people include:
- A firefighter
- A police
- A rescue or emergency worker
- A lifeguard
- A nurse or doctor
- A parking or traffic control officer
- Animal control expert
However, the law of the protected class will only apply when the crimes are committed against them while on duty. So, when you knowingly commit the crime against these groups of people while on duty, the court will impose the sentence enhancement against you. The sentence enhancement includes a 1-year jail term and a fine not exceeding $2,000.
Fighting Simple Assault Charge
A simple assault charge can harm your future. For example, when you try to seek a new job, the criminal record will become an obstacle. You might find it challenging to handle the assault charge. In your community, people will refer to the crime's character and nature and perceive you as a violent person because of the charges, even when you did not commit it. You should not pay the hectic fine or remain behind bars for the crimes you did not commit.
To fight the charges, you want to seek legal help from a criminal defense attorney. The attorney will help you gather sufficient evidence and develop a robust defense mechanism to fight the charge. The following are the potential defenses your attorney can use to fight the assault charge:
If you believed your life or friend was in imminent danger, you could use this defense to fight the charge. You, however, need to prove that using your force was necessary while defending yourself. Your criminal defense attorney should also prove the force you applied was not excessive compared to what a reasonable person could do when under a similar situation. Remember, words alone cannot help you to fight the charge. It means you must provide evidence to support your claim. So, ensure you explain everything to your attorney. The attorney will be in a position to build a solid defense to fight the charge.
Another person can falsely accuse you of simple assault charges since the law does not make it necessary for the victim to suffer physical injuries. The alleged victim can falsely accuse you due to anger, desire for revenge, or because of revenge. You want to explain the matter to your criminal defense attorney when this is your case. The attorney will help you gather sufficient evidence to help support your claim. Upon doing that, the court will more likely consider dropping your case.
Lack of Willfulness
You could not face conviction for violating California PC 240 if you did not have the intent to commit the crime. The prosecutor must prove the intent is a critical element of the crime. If you did not have a willful intent to commit the crime, you could not face conviction. Your defense attorney may argue that you accidentally imposed an attorney on the alleged victim due to a misunderstanding. Ensure you speak with your attorney. With a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney, you will have an excellent opportunity to fight the charge. Ensure to follow the legal advice of your attorney for the best case outcomes.
No ability to Apply Force
You may argue that you did not commit the crime if you are physically incapable. Even when you tried or intentionally committed battery, you can use this defense to fight the charge. However, you must prove your level of incapability. By doing so, the court will consider dropping or reducing your case. Often consider speaking with your attorney when you require legal help.
Defense of Property
Your criminal defense attorney may claim you wanted to prevent your property from being illegally withheld or invaded. But note the defense is applicable in California. Meaning you may not use the defense in other states. The law allows you to use reasonable force to defend your property from a home invasion. But if the property has some instances of dispute, you are not entitled to use the force. So, when this is your case, the judge may decide to drop or reduce the charges.
Sometimes the offense might be committed by a stranger. Due to the pressure from the law enforcement officers, you might be falsely accused. For example, your dress code may match the actual perpetrator, making the law enforcement officers mistake you for the perpetrator. You need to provide evidence before the court to support your claim.
The criminal court may impose probation instead of imposing a jail sentence. Also, the court may impose the probation after you have served your sentence. For example, the judge may order you to serve a jail term for one month and then commit to five-month probation. As the offender, you should meet with your probation expert regularly. The court also sets other conditions which you must follow. These conditions include:
- Attending counseling program
- Committing community service
- Electronic house arrest
When the judge decides you commit yourself to a house arrest, you wear an electronic monitoring device restricted to your work and home. When you violate the conditions of the probation, the court can order your re-arrest.
When convicted of simple assault in California, the law requires you to pay restitution fees. The restitution fee is set to reimburse the victim for the expenses. The fee includes the costs of counseling or treatment. For the misdemeanor crimes, the court orders you to pay a restitution amount between $150 and $1,000. Many felony charges require you to pay restitution fees between $300 and $10,000 based on the injuries and damages suffered by the victim.
Pleas and Pre-trial Options
When facing assault charges in California, your criminal defense attorney may investigate your case to determine whether you were wrongfully charged. Also, the judge may consider other reasons to determine whether the court should dismiss your case before your trial. The attorney may negotiate a plea bargain when the court fails to dismiss your case. In many cases, the prosecutor will more likely accept you to enter a guilty bargain for a less severe crime. Again the prosecutor may recommend a sentence option like probation after you plead guilty to the crime.
Other Related Offense
The crime of assault is charged alongside other crimes. The charges related to assault include:
Simple Battery PC 242
Under PC 242, battery refers to another person's willful and unwanted touching. To prove you guilty of the crime, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
You Touched Someone Else
This would satisfy the element if you had physical contact with the other person. Physical contact is enough, even if you did not cause injury to the victim. For example, spitting is an abusive form of touching. You must note that the touching must not be physical; you can use an object to touch the victim. The battery can also occur when you touch an object connected with another person.
Willfully means you wanted to commit the act that caused the battery. Willfully doesn't mean you were interested in injuring the person. For instance, if you argue with your spouse, pick up a vase and throw it at the wall. The purse then hits your partner in the head. Although you did not want to injure your partner's head, you intentionally threw the vase in their direction. In this case, you may be guilty of battery since you knew the vase would strike your partner.
The law requires you to have offensively touched someone for the touching to become a battery. Offensive touching refers to any touching that is objectively violent, disrespectful, or rude. A common example of a battery is spitting on someone. Although spitting doesn't injure the victim, it is an offensive gesture.
Penalties For PC 242
As per California laws, simple battery is a misdemeanor. The penalties include
- Fine up to $2000
- Six months imprisonment in county jail
- Six months probation
Legal Defenses for PC 242
The following are the legal defenses you can use to fight the charge:
You Acted in Self Defense
If you had a reasonable belief that you or someone else was in imminent danger of death, and used battery to defend them, then you cannot face charges for battery.
You Did Not Intent to Act
To face conviction for PC 242, you want to have the intent to harm. Therefore, if the accident resulted from an accident you did not plan, you cannot face charges for the offense.
Assault On a Public Official
Assault occurs when one illegally attempts to cause harm or injure another person. Public officials like politicians could make a controversial judgment which could attract threats and attacks from residents dissatisfied with their choices.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove
The following are the elements the prosecutor wants to prove for you to face conviction:
- You committed an act that could lead to using force against the officer
- You willingly committed the crime
- When acting, you knew the public official would believe the use of fear and force resulted from their actions.
You Applied Fear and Force Against the Official When Acting
Use of force occurs when you come into contact with another person offensively. Even when the contact is minor, it is assault when done in an offensive or harsh way.
Penalties for Assault on a Public official
Under PC 217, assault on a public official is a wobbler. Wobbler means the prosecutor may charge the crime as a felony or misdemeanor. The charges you face will depend on your criminal history and your case. If your actions are severe, you may face charges with a felony.
You may face misdemeanor charges when charged with a misdemeanor for assaulting a public official. The charges include a fine of up to $1000 and imprisonment in county jail for one year. If your charges are a felony, you will face imprisonment of Up to three years in prison and a fine of $10000. You also face felony probation which lasts from three to five years. When you violate your probation, the judge may revoke your probation and send you to prison.
Legal Defenses For Assaulting a Public Official
Facing charges for assaulting a public official does not mean you are facing charges for PC 217. As soon as you face charges for PC 217, you want to call your lawyer immediately. The lawyer will have enough time to work on your case to have the charges dismissed or reduced. The following are the legal defense your lawyer can use to fight your charges.
Lack of present Ability To Inflict Injury
You may use harsh words when involved in an argument with a public official. You may try to injure them to make your feelings understood. However, if you lacked the present ability to cause an injury during the confrontation, you cannot face charges for assault. For example, if the public official is stronger than you, the court may reduce your charges because you cannot injure the victim.
Public officials are human, and they can become angry, aggressive, or frustrated. If you believed the official wanted to harm you and your safety was in danger, you have the right to defend yourself. When you injure a public official in self-defense, you cannot face charges for PC217. Your attorney may argue you were responding to an unlawful touch with a reasonable force.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon
PC 245(a) 1 is an assault committed using a deadly weapon.
Elements of Assault With Deadly Weapon
To face conviction for PC 245(a)1, the prosecutor must establish the following elements.
Use of Force
The prosecution wants to prove you willingly committed an act that, by its nature, would probably result in force upon the person of another. For instance, if you throw a butcher's knife at somebody and miss hitting them, you may face charges for PC 246(a)1. A butcher's knife is a deadly Weapon that you know would result in significant bodily injury to the victim.
You Were Aware
To face conviction for the crime, you must have wanted to use force against the victim. Again, you must have known the force would result in bodily harm. If you used a deadly weapon, it would be hard to argue you were not aware the gun would Inflict physical injury upon the target.
Penalties for PC 245(a)1
When you violate PC 245(a), you may face charges for either misdemeanor or felony, depending on the nature of your case. Penalties for misdemeanor assault with a deadly Weapon include a summary of probation, a one-year jail term in county jail, and a fine of $1000. felony charges include formal felony probation, four years prison term, and a fine of up to $10000.
The legal defenses you may use to defend against your charges include:
You Did Not Use a Deadly Weapon
A loaded gun or a butcher's knife is a deadly weapon. However, a butter knife or unloaded gun are not deadly weapons. If you used a butter knife in a manner that could not result in bodily injury, you could not face conviction.
Lack of Intent
If you did not intend to use a deadly weapon to assault the victim, you lack the intent to commit the crime.
Contact a Anaheim Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
A conviction for an assault becomes a part of your criminal record which can seriously impact your future life. When you face a sentence for a crime, the judge may consider your previous convictions and inflict harsher punishments on your new case. A criminal record can hurt you when you are seeking to rent an apartment or looking for a new job. So, you want to seek legal help immediately if the police arrest you over a simple assault charge. If you face assault charges in Anaheim, contact a zealous and intelligent attorney to help you.
At California Criminal Lawyer Group, our lawyers will use the right resources to develop a strong and effective criminal defense strategy no matter how egregious facts the case is against you. We will determine the prosecution team's evidence of weakness and the contradictory statements from the victim. Start by making a call. Contact us at 714-766-0965, and we will start working on your case.