Assault is one of the most commonly charged crimes in California. A verbal altercation at any place be it at your own home or in a bar could be misconstrued as an assault charge. These charges can have lasting impacts on your future. You could be facing jail or prison time along with a permanent criminal record, probation, and excessive fines. Too often, individuals who committed no crime are charged with assault. As an individual whose been charged with assault, you may feel tempted to explain your own side of the story to police officers or even the prosecution side. However, it’s important to know that the information you provide could be used against you. This is why it’s critical to seek the help of an experienced assault defense attorney. If you or your loved one has been accused of the crime of assault, it’s in your best interest to hire Pasadena Criminal Attorney who will fight aggressively for your rights.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we’ll act quickly to develop a strong legal defense strategy against assault charges. Our attorney Michele is a former public defender exclusively practicing criminal defense for more than 25 years. She has a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice system. With her experience, Michele knows how prosecutors develop cases against suspects of criminal assault. Our attorneys are always prepared to stay ahead of the prosecution through the identification of contradictory evidence, procedural errors, or violation of civil rights. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation addressing your assault charges. Call 626-689-2277 or fill out our online contact form.
What is Assault According to California Law?
Under California Penal Code Section 240, assault in California can be defined as the “unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another”. More often, people interchangeably use “assault” and “battery” as if they had the same meaning when referring to criminal charges. However, it’s imperative to understand that the two are separate offenses with separate punishments. Assault is an action that may inflict physical harm while battery is the actual infliction of force or violence on another person. Battery is defined in Penal Code 242. Nonetheless, both are serious crimes and if you’ve been charged with either crime, you should consult with a California assault attorney to protect your legal rights.
The Elements of Assault
In order for you to be found guilty of committing an assault, the prosecution must be able to prove several elements including:
- You committed an act that would probably result in the application of force against another person
The first element requires the prosecution to show that you had the intent to use physical force against another. The use of force, in this case, can be any harmful or offensive touching. Even the slightest touch done in an offensive manner will count. Additionally, this also applies to touching anything connected to the alleged victim’s person, for instance, clothing, purse, phone, or any other object on the victim. An action can be classified as an assault even if the touching involved did not cause any sort of injury. Assault does not have to be direct, it can also be indirect, for instance, if you caused an object to touch the victim. The prosecutor will not be required to prove that you succeeded in applying force to the other person. All that’s required is some action that would probably have resulted in force being applied. This is a threshold issue that allows the prosecution to show why the act in question should merit an assault conviction.
- You acted willfully
The second element that the prosecutor must prove in order to demonstrate that you are guilty is by showing that you willfully acted in committing the alleged assault. A willful act can be described as the intent to break the law, hurt someone, or gain any advantage. This indicates that you committed the act willingly and on purpose. The prosecution must show that you intended to commit an act that would have likely resulted in detrimental consequences or offensive touching on another person. An act, therefore, can be categorized as an assault if you intended to cause physical harm even if it was just a prank or playful gesture.
- You were aware that the act might lead to the application of force
For this element of the offense, all the prosecution needs to show is that you knew, as would a reasonable person in your position, that your actions would lead to the assault. For instance, if you have the intent to intimidate another person by firing a loaded gun towards that person’s direction, that can be reason enough for you to be charged with assault. It does not matter if you just wanted to intimidate that person, as a reasonable person, you should have known that your action would result in force being applied against the accuser. Therefore, you cannot defend yourself by implying that you had no idea that your actions would have resulted in the use of force against the other person.
- You had the present ability to apply unlawful force
In California, the accused must have a present ability to commit the crime for instance by carrying out violent injury to another person. To charge a person of assault, therefore, the prosecution must prove the present ability to cause harm. Simply put, you must have actually been able to carry out a violent act to the person of another when the alleged assault took place. For example, if you point a gun to the alleged victim without threats, that can be termed as present ability. However, if the gun is unloaded, the present ability is not met and in such a case, there is no assault. Apparent ability for crimes is not recognized as assault in California.
What Else Should You Know About Assault Charges in California?
Apart from simple assault, you can also be charged with aggravated assault. In such cases, the prosecution must be able to prove that you assaulted a third party pursuant to Penal Code 240 and that the assault was committed with a deadly weapon or other means of force that would likely result in great bodily injury. Courts in California treat cases of assault very seriously due to the dangers associated with acts of violence against another person. If you are facing assault charges, you should contact a Pasadena Criminal Attorney now to discuss your case. Our dedicated attorneys handle all types of assault cases. With our knowledge, experience, and determination, we can obtain the best possible result for you. The sooner you contact us; the sooner we can help. Schedule a free consultation today.
California Penalties for Assault
The penalties for assault convictions in California can be severe. If after a trial you are found guilty, you will be required to attend a sentencing hearing. This means that after being sentenced, you’ll be facing the potential of jail time, a substantial fine, and other serious consequences. When sentenced for a crime, it’s normal to be frightened and anxious. It’s therefore imperative to seek the guidance of an experienced California assault attorney. Your attorney can play a critical role in trying to convince the judge that there are justifying factors in your case that permit a probationary sentence.
Penal Code 240 assault is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. The penalties for simple assault involve a maximum county jail sentence of 6 months, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. Additionally, the court may require you to perform community service or complete an expansive batterer’s program.
Assault with a deadly weapon or by means of force under Penal Code Section 245 (a)(1), can be prosecuted as either felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of your case. If you’re convicted of this crime, you will be facing 2, 3, or 4 years imprisonment in state prison, up to 1 year imprisonment in a county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and fine. If the weapon was a firearm, the minimum punishment you can receive is 6 months in county jail. If you used a car as the weapon, then you’ll lose your driver’s license for life.
The punishment can even be higher if the victim was a peace officer, emergency medical technician, traffic officer, animal control officer, firefighter, lifeguard, code enforcement officer, or similar public safety person. Assault, in this case, is punishable by a maximum fine of up to $2,000 or 1 year imprisonment in county jail.
Legal Defenses to California Assault Charges
An assault charge can be increasingly harmful to your future. When looking for a job, for instance, a misdemeanor on your record is already a significant obstacle in itself. It can be very difficult to deal with the charge of assault. In society, reference will be made to your nature or character and think of you as a violent person because of the charges even if you did not commit the act. You don’t want to pay a fine or go to jail or have an assault conviction on your record. In order to fight an assault charge, Pasadena Criminal Attorney can apply several defenses to your benefit. The attorney you retain to help you with your case will break down and examine the facts of the alleged crime. Some common defenses to assault include:
- Self-defense or defense of others
The legal defense of self-defense/defense of others can be warranted if you had reasonable belief that you or someone else was in imminent danger and the actions you took were unavoidable. Your lawyer must also be in a position to prove that your use of force was necessary to defend against the danger. Additionally, the attorney must establish that the force you used was not in excess of what could be reasonably assumed to be necessary to defend against the danger. However, words alone are not enough to justify an assault no matter how offensive they are. This means that you cannot claim that you acted on self-defense based on speech. The only time that self-defense may be utilized is if you reasonably believed that you or someone else was in danger of physical injury or unlawful touching.
- No ability to use force
You cannot be proven guilty of the crime of assault based on just the simple intent to harm. The prosecution must prove your ability to carry out the intent inflict some sort of force upon the alleged victim. You cannot be convicted of the crime if you did not have the ability to use force or violence upon the person of another.
- Lack of Willfulness
You are not guilty of PC 240 assault if you did not intentionally act to use force against. Your criminal defense attorney can use this as a legal defense if there was no willful intention to inflict harm on someone else. Maybe you accidentally inflicted an injury on another person or your actions were as a result of a misunderstanding. If that is the case, Pasadena Criminal Attorney can help. With an aggressive attorney by your side, you’ll get the opportunity to let the prosecution and jury know the truth and get the full story.
- You were falsely accused
It’s easy for an individual to falsely accuse another of assault given that there is no requirement for the alleged victim to have suffered physical injury. False accusations can be as a result of jealousy, anger, or desire for revenge. Criminal defense attorney Michele has seen this situation before with a variety of underlying complications and can interview witnesses and gather enough evidence to make sure the true story comes out.
How our Pasadena criminal Attorney Can Assist You
If you or your loved one has been charged with assault, contact Pasadena Criminal Attorney, for a free consultation today. Our attorneys will use the right resources to develop an effective defense strategy no matter how egregious the facts against you are. We will point out any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case as well as contradictory statements from the plaintiff. Our attorneys have the skills, experience, confidence, and creativity to analyze the case from every angle possible. If there were procedural errors or your civil rights were violated, we’ll fight to have the charges dropped. With the guidance of our attorneys, you may be able to avoid jail time and get your life back. Simply pick up your phone and call 626-689-2277 for a free, immediate consultation with an assault defense attorney. You can rest assured that your case is in skilled and experienced hands.