The LA Criminal Defense Attorney is arguably among the top, if not one of the best criminal defense law firms In and around Los Angeles, California. We have worked with many individuals and companies in the state of California over the years and have had positive results handling their cases. Our work ethic and the high success rate has left an indelible mark in the Los Angeles community. If you have been charged with assault charges, we will provide the best attorney for your defense to help get the best outcome.

What is The Legal Explanation of California Assault?

When most people hear the word assault, what comes to mind usually is physical abuse involving violence. This leads them to believe that either one of the parties involved in the assault needs to sustain physical harm for the offense to be labeled an assault. Although this is true to some extent, an assault could rather best be described in simpler terms as the deliberate act of touching or threatening to touch another person in a way that is likely to hurt or offend them.

Under Civil Code section 240, the state of California describes the crime of assault, additionally known as simple assault, as carrying out an action that will most likely result in the infliction of physical force to another individual. In other words, you could be charged with a simple assault in the state of California when you attempt to engage in any violent act that could result in another person being injured. You might fail in your attempts to inflict force but since you reasonably knew the possible outcomes of your actions, you could be charged in a California court for assault.

There also is aggravated assault according to the California statute. It includes any offense of assault carried out either with a lethal weapon, with the strength likely to result in great physical damages, with the aim of perpetrating a sex crime, or with the aim of causing chaos.

What a District Attorney Must Prove for an Assault Conviction

For the judge or jury to find you guilty of assault during trial, the prosecutor needs to prove to the court that:

  1. You took action that could have otherwise resulted in the use of physical strength against another person,

  2. You acted out of you own will,

  3. You were conscious of the reality that would have led any other reasonable individual to interpret your actions would right away be followed by force being inflicted to a second individual, and

  4. You were capable to inflict force on the second person when you acted.

The term, infliction of physical force as used in the legal definition translates to any damaging or abusive touching. Trivial touching does not count for you to be charged with simple assault unless you did it in an impolite or abusive manner. You could, however, still be charged with a California simple assault presuming that the touching that took place did not result in, or would not have led to any type of harm. Furthermore, the touching needs not to involve direct contact with one another. It could be consequential, or even by using a given object to touch the victim.

In accordance with the California statute, your efforts of inflicting physical force on another individual do not necessarily need to work out for you to be indicted for assault. The mere fact that you acted in a manner that would have otherwise culminated in physical force being inflicted is enough to land you in a courtroom.

By acting out of your own will, means that you were determined to carry out the deed with no external coercion. You do not need to have had the intention to either violate the law, gain something in any way, or even hurt another individual.

Additionally, you could be tried in a California court for simple assault regardless of whether you intended to inflict physical force on the said victim or not. As long as you were aware that your actions could have resulted in the Inflicting of physical force, you could face assault allegations.

Assault and Battery

On many occasions, the words assault and battery are used together that you may be mistaken for thinking that the two mean one and the same offense. As much as it may sound confusing, the two words refer to two separate offenses. The main difference between the two being:

  • Civil Code 240, California assault is the unpleasant touching of an individual or, any deed that might inflict bodily harm on them, whereas,

  • Civil Code 242 California battery is explained as the definite infliction of bodily harm on another individual. The touching does not necessarily have to bring about physical pain on the victim. You could be found in violation of California battery even if you made only trivial contact with the second individual.

In other words, a California assault does not essentially entail any actual bodily contact, while California battery requires bodily contact to have taken place.

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Punitive Measures Taken Against California Assault

In state of California, the crime of simple assault is considered a misdemeanor. If you are indicted for perpetrating assault you are likely to face either; informal probation, a term not exceeding six months (6) inside the county jail or legal fees adding up to a thousand ($1,000) dollars.

If you, however, were convicted of committing assault on a public worker or any individual working in certain professions as stipulated in the California statute, you most likely will face graver punishment. The said professions as listed under the California law include; the police, a doctor or caregiver on duty, a paramedic, an animal control worker, a firefighter, a school worker, a jury member, a military member or a lifeguard.

Supposing that the plaintiff whom you allegedly assaulted was to fall under any of the above-mentioned job titles, and you had reasonable knowledge of this, you face either legal fees amounting to two thousand ($2,000) dollars (especially in the case of a parking enforcement officer), a one-year term (1) in the county jail, or both.

Lawful Defenses for Assault

Majority of the individuals who are given assault charges in California had no idea that they were in violation of the law until it is too late. This is because most of the time, charges of simple assault involve no injuries or violent damage, yet you could end up with a permanent conviction for California assault on your record. The fact that this crime is considered a misdemeanor means no one wants to be locked up in jail. In order to beat these charges during the trial, your defense lawyer could choose to apply defenses such as:

  1. You were incapable of inflicting any force or brutality.

    This is a major element when it comes to a California assault. You need to prove to the judge that at the time the said offense was supposedly perpetrated, you had no ability to apply a force upon the plaintiff. If the judge does not find any substantial evidence incriminating you, you could be lucky and walk away from a guilty conviction.

  2. Your actions were in defense of self or the defense of other persons.

    In order for the jury to consider this defense in your trial, you need to show them that: (i) you had the incentive to believe that either you or a second person was in impending harm of suffering physical injury or illegal touching, (ii) you had enough incentive to believe that by use of direct force you could successfully defend against the threat and (iii) the force you used was reasonable in order to protect against the threat.

    It is of importance to note that verbal insult alone, regardless of how obscene or offensive, will not count as an assault in California. Therefore, Self-defense is not a valid argument if you used physical force against verbal slur.

  3. Your charges were based on false allegations.

    This is perhaps the most commonly used legal defense strategy when it comes to assault in California. Most defendants result in presenting this defense since there exists no legal obligation of the victim suffering any bodily injuries. Such accusations could be made against you by another person simply because they want payback, jealousy or out of hatred. If this happens to be your case, getting yourself legal representation from an experienced criminal defense law firm would be a wise decision.

  4. You neither had the will nor intent to inflict any bodily harm.

    The jury is bound to let you go if you did not deliberately inflict force another person. It might have been an accident or a case of a mix-up which a competent attorney can handle comfortably.

In California, it is however not often clear as to whether when accused of a California assault your actions would certainly result in the infliction of force.

Offenses Related to California Assault

In Los Angeles California, you might find yourself facing assault charges instead of, or along with charges for other related offenses. Some of these crimes include:

  1. Civil Code 242, battery

    Also referred to as California battery or aggravated battery. It varies from California assault in the sense that the perpetrator is required to have inflicted physical force against another person.

    You, however, could still be convicted of simple assault even though you caused no physical damages on the alleged victim. The judge will consider if you did or did not, in fact, come into physical contact with the said victim, and in an offensive way for that matter.

    In the event that you are accused of California battery, the jury in some instances might decide to consider aspects surrounding the event such as whether your actions were destructive or violent especially if they did not bring about any injury. What some people might consider offensive and insulting, the jury might see it as too irrelevant to even consider.

    Battery is considered a misdemeanor in California which might attract a fine not exceeding two thousand ($2,000) dollars, a maximum sentence of six months (6) inside the county jail or both.

    You could nevertheless face charges of Civil Code 234 (d) PC, aggravated battery if you caused serious physical harm to the plaintiff. In accordance with the California statute, this crime is considered a wobbler, meaning it could be tried in court either as a felony or misdemeanor.

    On assumption that you were to be indicted for aggravated battery as a felony, you face a prison term of two (2), three (3) or four (4) years.

  2. Civil Code 245 (a)(1), assault with a lethal weapon

    Also known as ADW, this crime involves an assault perpetrated either with a lethal weapon or through ways in which the force applied or object used is likely to result in great physical damage.

    This offense is treated as a wobbler in accordance with the California laws and could get you a one-year (1) term in the county jail on a misdemeanor charge and a possible felony term of two (2), three (3), or four (4) years.

  3. Civil Code 217.1 (a), assault on a public worker

    This crime involves an assault carried out against any public worker, be it in reprisal or in order to stop them from carrying out their civic duties. Some of the public workers as stated in California law include; public prosecutors, magistrates and administrative officers of the government.

    This offense is treated as a wobbler warranting a maximum of one-year (1) in the county jail on a misdemeanor verdict and either sixteen (16) months, twenty-four months (24) or three (3) years for a felony sentence.

  4. Civil Code 24, assault with caustic chemicals

    In legal terms, assault with caustic chemicals is defined as the act of hurling or placing a given corrosive substance on another person with your ultimate goal being to wound or disfigure the supposed victim.

    It is considered a much graver form of assault in California and is thus charged as a felony. If found guilty of assault with caustic chemicals, you could be facing two (2), three (3), and up to four (4) years in the California state prison.

  5. Civil Code 415, disturbing the peace

    Disturbing the peace is stipulated as the wrongdoing of either; fighting in a public place, causing unreasonable noise with the intentions to disturb those around and verbally insulting another individual in a public place.

    This crime is considered of low degree in California hence charged as a misdemeanor or infraction in other cases. If found guilty, you could get a maximum sentence of three (3) months in the county jail. If facing California assault charges the prosecuting attorney could opt to charge you with disturbing the peace instead, if, the evidence presented for the first crime is insufficient. This means that you get lesser penalties which could be a positive outcome depending on how you look at it.

  6. Vehicle Code 23110 VC, throwing an object at a motor car

    When you throw any substance or item at a car that happens to be on a public road, you violate the Vehicle Code 23110 VC as per the California statute. You could be charged with this offense instead of California assault in cases proven to be reasonable by the evidence presented. The jury in a California court could find you guilty of throwing an object at a motor vehicle even if you were nowhere close to hitting the car itself or any of its occupants.

    This offense is charged like a misdemeanor most of the time. In cases where the object or substance you hurled at the car was likely to inflict grave physical damage and you did so with intent, you could find yourself answerable to felony charges.

Common Questions Regarding California Assault

  1. How much time do I have before filing California assault charges?

    It is advisable that criminal charges against assault be filed immediately in accordance with the California statute. In cases of misdemeanor offenses such as assault, the state of California allows up to one (1) year from when the arrest was made. The law figures that there could be multiple reasons as to why you did not file assault charges immediately, thus it stretches the time period up to a year.

  2. Is spitting at another person considered assault in California?

    Most cases of spitting are not taken seriously hence not reported to the authorities. However, if you decided to intentionally and aggressively spit on another individual it is considered assault taking into account that it is offensive touching. If the spit came into contact with supposed offenders’ person, even if only the shoe, you could still stand trial for assault charges.

    If on the other hand, you spit in food then serve it to some other person which they then proceed to consume, you could be found guilty of assault since your spit eventually comes into contact with the victim.

  3. Can my simple assault charges be dropped?

    The typical procedure in a California court involves preliminary hearings which then decide whether a case presents substantial probable cause to go to trial. It is not necessary to prove an offender guilty during the preliminary hearing. If you are accused of committing assault, it is advisable that you ask the local judge for a preliminary hearing, which by law they are obliged to provide upon your request. If the judge happens to find insufficient probable cause, they could decide to release you from your bond or lockup.

    The alleged victim could also choose to withdraw the charges altogether and settle the case with you out of court.

  4. Does hitting my child count as an assault?

    Whether you did it intentionally or by accident, there is a likelihood of you being indicted for assault on a family member when you hit your child. If for instance you inflicted force on your child during an argument and they slid, in turn injuring themselves at the time, you could face assault charges. Depending on how seriously the child got hurt, you could face different levels of punishment as stipulated by the California law.

  5. Does Yelling at some other person count as an assault?

    In California, insulting someone else verbally could easily be charged as an assault depending on other aspects surrounding the event. Shouting angrily with physical threats and threatening actions in another person’s face or even with raised fists, could, for instance, be considered assault. Even if you never did touch the alleged victim. If you were just yelling without necessarily using threatening words, the police have no grounds to arrest you.

Civil Lawsuits Set for California Assault

If you happen to be the victim of an assault in Los Angeles California, you could choose to sue the offender for damages. You do not necessarily need to press charges but you could choose to sue them and get compensated for the damages incurred. All it takes is reasonable doubt for the jury to determine whether the alleged offender is guilty or not guilty of the crime they are accused of.

For you to receive your deserved compensation, you will need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • The offender was legally obliged to use reasonable care to avoid injuring you,

  • The offender broke the legal obligation by either irresponsibility or a deliberate unlawful act, and,

  • You consequently suffered damages from the preceding events.

By presenting the necessary evidence to the jury, the offender has no option but to pay you as the jury deemed appropriate. Failure to do so will have the defendant facing steep punishment such as loss of their professional licenses or even jail time.