Assaults are a typical occurrence in California, and they are harshly penalized. We've all been in situations where emotional mistakes are made and emotions run high that makes us do certain things like assaulting another person. When you are charged with assault, you are frequently considered a bad person and are not given the benefit of doubt. At Chula Vista Criminal Attorney, we understand the anxiety you are feeling and the fear that is running through your head as you wonder what you are up against.
Our attorneys understand your predicament and can provide you with straightforward responses to your inquiries based on our significant criminal trial experience. We will do our best to defend you and possibly have your charges dropped or get a reduced sentence. We invite you to get in touch if you are facing simple assault charges in Chula Vista.
Simple Assault as Defined Under California Law
Simple assault is defined by California law as an unlawful attempt to cause violent harm to someone else. Whenever anyone knowingly does something that would harm another person that would lead a reasonable person to believe the act will indeed cause harm to another person, it is considered simple assault. You must have the current ability to use force to be convicted, and you cannot have acted in self-defense or in the defense of a third party.
As long as the intended victim was within striking distance, taking a swing at someone during a heated debate but missing is a simple assault in California. However, threats of hitting someone with an object are not considered assault unless they are accompanied by an action that shows intent to carry out the threat. When it comes to simple assault accusations, the identification of the victim plays a big role in establishing the severity of the crime and the potential sentence.
In California, a simple assault allegation can be charged as a misdemeanor, while specific assault offenses might be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor at the prosecutor's discretion. When a simple assault is charged as a felony, the court has the authority to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor during the course of the case.
How Simple Assault Investigations are done and Charged
Any victim of simple assault can file assault charges against their perpetrator. However, they should provide a medical report if they sustained injuries. You should seek medical assistance right away if you have been assaulted. Not only is it critical that any injuries you have sustained are addressed by a medical practitioner, but it is also a key element of developing your case against your attacker.
Medical documentation will be critical in your case, even if you believe your injuries were minor. You will have access to your medical records as a patient, which you can give to your attorney, who will defend you in your case against the person who assaulted you. You should immediately contact the police to submit a formal report against your assailant after seeking medical assistance. Even if your injuries are minor, having proof proving you reported your incident to the cops is important when a jury or judge is hearing your case.
Finally, if you intend to file a lawsuit against the person who allegedly assaulted you, you will require legal counsel. When formally filing your case against your assailant, it is critical to choose an attorney who is versed with California assault legislation. This lawyer can look through your medical records and police report and help you start putting together your case.
It's crucial to remember that criminal charges for assault in California have a statute of limitations. You have one year to report an assault to the police in simple assault situations. The majority of criminal attacks, however, have a three-year statute of limitations. While these figures may give you a notion of how long you can wait before filing charges, you should not wait long to file charges against your perpetrator.
Even while all charges submitted within the time limit are meant to be considered equally, the human factor of a jury or judge hearing your case years later can have a detrimental impact on the decision you want. The details of the assault become less evident as time passes, and evidence is frequently buried in law enforcement evidence lockers. Consequently, whether you have been charged with criminal assault in California or want to take legal action against someone who has assaulted you, acting swiftly and obtaining the services of a qualified Chula Vista Criminal Attorney is your best option.
Common Defenses for Simple Assault Under California Law
There are different defenses that you can use if you are charged with simple assault. These defenses include:
You Acted in Self Defense or in the Defense of Others
If you reasonably feel you are facing improper touching, significant injury, or death, the California legal system empowers you to act in self-defense and protect yourself from someone else. This protection is also extended if you are defending a third party who is under attack. In this scenario, being able to properly demonstrate that you were acting in self-defense or to protect the third party indicates that your actions were legitimate. Keep in mind, though, that if you were the main aggressor, this defense may not be available to you.
There was no Intention of Committing the Assault
Another defense to an assault charge is that the assault was unintentional. There may have been instances where you responded rapidly to anything happening near a person, giving the impression that you intended to strike her or him, prompting the person to call the cops. If this is the case, you have a good defense to your case because you never intended to assault anyone.
Not Present to Commit the Assault
Alternatively, some people are charged with assault despite the fact that they were not present and incapable of perpetrating the alleged assault. For example, if you were arrested for pointing an unloaded gun at someone and charged with aggravated assault, the prosecutor would be unable to establish that you had the present ability to commit the assault because firing the gun you held would be impossible.
An assault charge is a common false accusation. Because there are no witnesses other than the accused and the accuser, anyone might claim that she or he was assaulted. Furthermore, there is no requirement for a jury to convict you of assault, making a false accusation even easier to make. It's critical to have an experienced assault lawyer on your side fighting to keep you from being wrongfully convicted of this offense. Keep in mind that an arrest is not the same as a conviction, and you still have the chance to clear your name.
If you are facing assault accusations, it is critical that you obtain legal advice from a competent attorney so that you can begin planning your defense.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove to Convict You
The prosecutor must show each of the following factors against you beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you of assault under California law. In order for a prosecutor to win a conviction against you, each element of the charge must be demonstrated in court. Each element has its own unique characteristics, and if the prosecutor can't establish even one of them, you can win your case and reclaim your life. These are some of the elements:
Your Action was Deliberate
The prosecutor must prove that you deliberately acted in conducting the alleged attack in order to prove that you made an illegal effort to commit an assault. Deliberately does not always imply that you planned to cause the individual harm or that you intended to breach the law. To prove that you behaved intentionally, you only need to show that you planned to do anything specific.
You had the Ability to Use Illegal Force at the Time
California is one of the few states that, in addition to the other requirements, require the defendant to have the present ability to commit violent harm to another person in order to be convicted of assault. This means that at the time of the claimed assault, you must have been physically capable of carrying out the act of violence against another.
The prosecution, for example, must show that the defendant positioned herself or himself on the side of a building and pointed a loaded gun at police officers. Similarly, if the prosecution proves that you were attempting to hurl food at a passing car while holding food, the present ability will almost certainly be established.
Your Action was a Direct and Probable Result of the Use of Force Against Another Person
Simply put, the prosecution must prove that you were the one who committed the assault and that your actions may have resulted in physical harm against another person. This is a threshold problem that connects you to the charged offense and allows the prosecution to try to prove why the act in question warrants an assault conviction.
The Facts Were Known to You
Defendants accused of simple assault frequently say that they had no notion the person accusing them of assault believed their acts would result in the use of force against the complainant. Even if this is the case, the prosecution is not required to meet this bar. To achieve this requirement, the prosecutor must establish that a reasonable person would recognize that your acts would result in the assault.
California's Sentencing and Punishment for Simple Assault Charges
In California, assault convictions can result in harsh imprisonment and punishment. You will be obliged to attend a sentencing hearing if you are found guilty of an assault charge after a trial or if you agree to a plea bargain admitting guilt to the assault charge. You might face jail time, as well as a hefty fine and other serious repercussions if you are found guilty. It is natural to feel worried when you are punished for a crime.
You'll need the support of an expert attorney during the sentencing hearing to try to persuade the judge that there are mitigating aspects in your case that deserve a probationary term. Because there are multiple degrees of assault convictions that carry different terms, your defense counsel will prepare for your sentencing hearing based on the sort of assault you committed.
Punishment for Assault Against a Peace Officer
If you are charged with assaulting a fireman, peace officer, emergency medical specialist, or other members of the public safety community, your punishment may be increased. Knowingly attacking a public safety officer in California carries a maximum fine of $2,000 as well as the possibility of a one-year prison sentence.
Punishment for Misdemeanor Assault
Assault is classified as a misdemeanor in California, and the penalty for it is six months in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. In addition, the court may order you to participate in an expensive batterer's program or conduct community service.
Punishment for Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Under California law, assault with a deadly weapon, also known as aggravated assault, can be tried as a felony or a misdemeanor. This is a highly serious offense that might result in a lengthy prison sentence.
If you are convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in California, you might face a sentence of 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison, or a year in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. If a firearm was used as a dangerous weapon, the minimum sentence for assault is 6 months in county jail. If you are convicted of a felony assault with a dangerous weapon involving the use of a car as a weapon, you will lose your driver's license for the rest of your life.
If you are convicted of simple assault, you must pay restitution, which means you must reimburse the victim for any expenses incurred as a result of the act, such as medical care or counseling. You will pay between $150 and $1,000 in restitution if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, and between $300 and $10,000 if you are convicted of a felony, depending on the losses to the victim. Repayment orders are the norm, and the court will only refuse to impose restitution if there are valid reasons.
The court can order probation instead of jail time for the duration of the sentence or after the defendant has served some time in prison. In an assault case, a court can sentence you to 30 days in jail and 5 months of probation.
If you are on probation, you'll have to meet with a probation officer on a regular basis and follow the court's rules, which may include community service, no more convictions or arrests, electronic home detention (house arrest), or counseling. You will be required to wear an electronic monitoring device if you are placed under house arrest, and you will most likely be restricted to work or your home. If you break any of the terms of your probation, you may be arrested and sentenced to serve the remainder of your sentence in prison.
Related Charges to Simple Assault in California
Because they are usually charged with simple assault or have common features that the prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt, the crimes listed below are referred to as "related." There are various offenses linked to simple assault in California law, including:
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Assault with a dangerous weapon in California occurs when someone attacks another person with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, or when someone attacks another person with force likely to cause serious bodily injury. Depending on the specifics of the case, the prosecutor can charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony, making assault with a dangerous weapon a "wobbler" offense. Because it might involve the use of lethal weapons of force likely to cause great bodily damage, simple assault is similar to assault with a deadly weapon.
If you are found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, you could face a fine of up to $10,000 or a sentence of up to four years in prison, or both.
Assault on a Public Officer
When someone, from the president to jurors and their direct families, is assaulted, it is known as an assault on a public officer. The assault must be carried out in reprisal or to hinder the officer from carrying out his or her official duties. Under California law, those who are protected by the statute are referred to as public officers. Assault on a public official is a "wobbler" since it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Because state law does not allow attacks against public servants, the offense is similar to simple assault.
A felony conviction for assault on a public official can result in a fine of up to $10,000, a sentence of up to three years in prison, or both.
Battery is defined as the intentional and unlawful use of force against another person, according to California law. When something is done with intent, it is said to be done deliberately. To act willfully, you don't have to aim to harm someone else, disobey the law, or gain any benefit. If done in an irritated or disrespectful manner, even a light touch can be enough to commit a battery. The touching does not have to be painful or injurious. Battery is linked to simple assault because simple assault frequently turns into battery once the offense is completed.
If you are found guilty of battery, you might face a fine of up to $1,000 or a sentence of up to six months in prison, or both.
Disturbing the Peace
Disturbing the peace is defined as anyone who illegally fights another person in public, purposefully disturbs another person with unreasonable noise, or uses insulting language intended to cause violence in public, according to California law. Because disturbing the peace can occur in the context of an assault, the offense is related to simple assault, resulting in charges of both in the same trial.
If you are convicted of disturbing the peace, you might face a fine of up to $400, a 90-day prison sentence, or both.
Throwing Dangerous Objects at a Motor Vehicle
Throwing dangerous objects at a motor vehicle is a crime in California when someone deliberately and willfully throws any stone, rock, rocket, or steel at a vehicle or its occupants with the intent of causing grievous bodily harm. Because a weapon thrown at a motor vehicle can result in both a simple assault charge and a charge of hurling dangerous items at a motor vehicle in the same trial, the crime is linked to simple assault.
A felony conviction for hurling dangerous objects at a motor vehicle can result in a fine of up to $10,000 or a prison sentence of up to three years.
Find a Simple Assault Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Although most people consider it a minor offense, prosecutors consider simple assault to be a serious crime. If you have been charged with simple assault, you should contact a qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your liberty, rights, and livelihood are all in jeopardy. Keep in mind that a skilled criminal defense lawyer is capable of helping you lessen your sentence, negotiate a lesser charge in a plea bargain, or even have your charges dismissed entirely.
Chula Vista Criminal Attorney has criminal defense attorneys who understand California's criminal justice system. If you or your loved one has been arrested or charged with simple assault, our lawyers will examine the facts of your case and devise a strategy to assist you to achieve the best possible result. Don’t face the prosecution alone because we are here to help you. Get in touch with us at 619-877-6894 if you are in Chula Vista.