There are various types of assault crimes a person can be charged with in California and elsewhere. It’s important to understand the nature of these offenses and what can happen if you are charged with any type of assault. Retaining an experienced assault crimes lawyer is also important to ensure that your rights are protected and a good defense can be built in your favor.
What is Assault?
Assault is a crime that is intentional in nature and is defined as any act that causes another person to be in fear of physical harm. Even if a person is put in a position of simply being in fear of bodily harm, the individual who perpetrated that fear can be charged with assault and eventually convicted. The victim does not have to be actually assaulted or injured in order for the defendant to be charged and convicted.
For example, a man is walking down the street, minding his own business. Another person is walking toward him and suddenly makes a lunging movement toward the man as if he’s going to punch him and asks why he’s looking at him. The man is immediately startled and ducks out of the way. He has a fear of being punched on the street, which equates to the other person putting him in immediate fear of bodily harm. That person has committed the crime of assault.
What are the Elements of an Assault Crime?
In order for the prosecution to prove that a person being charged with assault is guilty of the crime, they must prove certain elements were in place. Those elements include the following:
• The defendant committed an act that would usually result in force against another person
• The defendant’s actions were intentional
• The defendant was fully aware of their actions and knew that they would cause a reasonable person to believe that force would be used
• The defendant had the ability to use force on the other person when they acted
Generally, the defendant could have used an application of force. This term means any kind of touch that can cause harm or that’s offensive. Even if a person makes contact with another through that individual’s clothing, it can be charged as assault. There doesn’t need to be an injury in place or even any sort of contact per California’s assault law. There is also no law in the state relating to attempted assault.
Other Types of Assault Crimes
In addition to assault itself, there are other types of assault crimes in California. They include the following:
• Battery: Per California Penal Code Section 242 PC, battery is a crime that involves intentional and unlawful physical contact against someone else. Additionally, that contact is not used in self-defense.
• Assault with a deadly weapon: Assault with a deadly weapon occurs when a person attempts to impose bodily harm against someone else while using a deadly weapon per California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1) PC. The act must be intentional with the knowledge that the act could cause fear in the victim as well as bodily injury. Even if the victim doesn’t suffer an injury, a person can still be charged with the crime.
• Domestic battery: Per California Penal Code Section 243(3)(1) PC, domestic battery is a crime that involves an act of violence or threat of violence against a person with whom they have a close intimate relationship. Usually, the victim is the spouse or unmarried romantic partner of the perpetrator but can also be an ex, other parent of a child or roommate.
• Sexual battery: Sexual battery includes a crime of a sexual nature that involves battery against the victim.
Regardless of the type of assault crime you have been charged with, it’s absolutely imperative to speak with a skilled assault crimes lawyer who can build the right type of defense for your case. Retaining an attorney is always in your best interests when you face any assault charge.
What are the Possible Defenses for Assault?
In the state of California, a person is legally entitled to fight back and defend themselves if they believe they are about to be harmed by another person and that harm is imminent. As a result, if a defendant has been charged with assault but acted in self-defense, this is a valid defense that the criminal defense attorney can use.
It should also be noted that because assault can be charged even when there are no injuries or physical evidence, it’s possible for a false accusation to be made. This is another defense that can be used in such a case.
What are the Penalties for Assault in California?
In California, assault is a crime that is classified as a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of the crime, you can face up to six months in jail and pay hefty fines. You will also be required to take anger management classes or something similar and possibly serve community service.
If you are arrested on assault charges, you need an experienced attorney to represent you in your case. It’s your best chance for a positive outcome.