Under California Penal Code 240, an assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another. What this means is that an assault can be committed when a person performs an act that is likely to result in a physical injury to another person. No actual injury is required for you to be convicted of this crime. However, if an actual injury has occurred, you could also be charged with battery under California Penal Code 243. This is why the term “assault & battery” is commonly heard. The punishment for assault varies depending on the circumstances. The penalty can increase depending on whom the assault is committed on and where it is committed. The penalty will also increase if a weapon is used.
Assault is a serious crime and the punishment can be severe if convicted. Below you will see the punishment you are facing if charged with assault.
- If you are convicted of a simple assault, under California Penal Code 240, you will face up to one year in county jail and a one thousand dollar fine ($1,000), on top of additional court fees.
- If the assault was committed on law enforcement officers or fire fighters, you face up to one year in county jail and a two thousand dollar fine ($2,000), on top of additional court fees.
For information on the penalty for an assault with a deadly weapon, click here to read about the serious crime.
The following is what the prosecuting attorney must prove and the instructions that the Jury will read in determining the verdict for a charge of assault under California Penal Code 241(a). Note that this is the general assault crime and there are several different types of assaults that can be charged.
Simple Assault – California Penal Code 241(a)
The defendant is charged with assault in violation of Penal Code section 241(a). To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:
- The defendant did an act that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person;
- The defendant did that act willfully;
- When the defendant acted, (he/she) was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that (his/her) act by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to someone; [AND]
- When the defendant acted, (he/she) had the present ability to apply force to a person(;/.) [AND]
- The defendant did not act (in self-defense/[or] in defense of someone else).
There are a number of defenses to an assault charge. Below you will see a number of common assault defenses that can be used to fight your case. However, each case is different and the proper defenses will be dependent on the facts.
Self-defense is the most common assault defense. The law allows you to protect yourself from another person if you reasonably believe you are facing an unlawful touching, serious injury, or death. Self-defense also applies to coming to the defense of another person facing the threat. Generally, you are allowed to use an amount of force necessary. The amount of force allowed will depend on the circumstances.
Act was NOT willfully done
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage. This means that if the act was committed by accident, the act does not fit the assault definition. You will need an assault attorney to back up this claim by providing evidence and being able to clearly articulate what really occurred.
Act Would Not Normally Result in the Application of Force to a Person
The act, when committed, would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person. Therefore, a defense to an assault charge could be that the act committed would not normally result in an act of force to a person. These are just a few of the possible assault defenses. If you are facing an assault charge, it is important to get legal representation. I am a Southern California assault attorney and I am ready to fight for your rights. I will provide you with aggressive representation. I take pride in getting my clients results. Call OC Legal Defense today at (714) 248-3626.