If you are facing San Diego assault charges, it is imperative that you take the charges very seriously, and quickly find a San Diego criminal defense attorney who will do the same. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your charges of assault, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. The crime of assault, under California Penal Code 240, is also known as simple assault, and is defined as an attempt to commit a violent injury on another person. In order to be convicted of San Diego assault charges, the prosecution must be able to prove all of the following:
- You committed an act which was likely to result in the use of force against another person;
- You committed this act willfully;
- You were aware that a reasonable person would believe the act you committed would directly result in force being applied to another human, and
- You had the ability to apply force to another person.
Assault vs. Battery
Many people still use the term “assault and battery” together, however they are two distinctly separate crimes. While assault is an attempt to use force or violence against another person, battery is the actual use of that force or violence.
Assault can include deliberately or carelessly causing bodily injury to another person, deliberately threatening another person with bodily harm, or engaging in physical contact with another when you know that contact is unwanted and/or offensive.
The Fear of Physical Harm Can Result in Assault Charges
You could even be charged with assault if you commit an act which leads another person to fear physical harm. Suppose you and your neighbor are arguing about a tree that grows over the fence into your yard. The argument gets heated, and, in an attempt to make your point, you lightly poke your neighbor in the chest. If the neighbor believes you intended to hurt him, or, if while you are poking him you angrily say “If you don’t get your tree off my property I’m going to make you wish you had,” then you may find yourself being charged with San Diego assault.
The Subjective Nature of Assault Charges
Charges of assault can fall in the “subjective” area. As an example, a husband may witness his wife, after having a few drinks, getting a little too cozy with a neighbor at their barbecue. Later, after all the guests have left, the husband and wife argue about the issue. The husband’s temper erupts and he yells at his wife, “I could just kill you.”
Obviously, this is a bad choice of words, yet most of us have uttered words in anger at one time or another we later wished we could take back. The question is, did the husband really mean he was contemplating killing his wife? Did she believe he really meant he would kill her? As you can see, sometimes assault allegations are pretty subjective. This also means that in some instances a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, partner, roommate or family member could allege assault as a method of “getting back at” or “getting even with” a person they were angry with.
Penalties for Assault in San Diego
In most cases, simple assault in the state of California is charged as a misdemeanor, with penalties of up to six months in county jail and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000. The penalties for a San Diego assault are harsher if the person charging you with assault belongs to one of the following professional categories:
- Police officers or other law enforcement officers;
- San Diego process servers;
- A lifeguard in the San Diego area;
- EMTs or paramedics;
- Animal control officers;
- Parking control officers;
- Code enforcement officers;
- Traffic officers;
- Members of a search and rescue team, or
If your assault was on a person in one of the protected classes above, you could face up to a year in the county jail, and/or up to $2,000 in fines.
When a Weapon is Used During the Assault
If you had a weapon in your possession during the alleged assault (a gun, knife or other weapon), or if you used a method of force which had a high likelihood of causing great bodily injury during the assault, you might be charged under Penal Code 245(a)(1), “assault with a deadly weapon.”
Assault with a deadly weapon is considered a wobbler, meaning it could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are charged with a felony for your assault with a deadly weapon, you could serve from two to four years in county jail. If you are charged with a misdemeanor for your assault with a deadly weapon, you could spend up to a year in county jail.
Defenses to the Crime of Assault
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your charges of assault, your San Diego criminal defense attorney may be able to use one of the following defenses on your behalf:
- There was no intent on your part to inflict violence or force. Perhaps you don’t even have the ability to inflict force on the alleged victim because you physically don’t have the strength, or are too ill. Or, perhaps you are involved in a bar brawl. You are pulled away by your friends, and from across the room you are still swinging your fists. Since you could not have actually connected with the other person, you could not be guilty of assault.
- You were defending yourself or another person. You had a reasonable belief that you or another person was in imminent danger of bodily injury, you believed the use of force was the only way to defend against that danger, and you used no more force than necessary.
- You did not act in a willful manner. Perhaps in your situation your actions were misinterpreted by the other person, or your actions were totally accidental. Perhaps the alleged victim misinterpreted your actions. If any of these are true in your case your San Diego criminal defense attorney will work hard to make sure the prosecutor gets the entire story.
- You are innocent and/or were falsely accused. It is far too easy for a person to claim assault, since, under California law, you don’t actually have to touch him or her to be charged with assault. Your attorney will gather all the necessary evidence, interviewing potential witnesses to ensure the truth is revealed.
The Cost of an Assault Conviction in San Diego
In addition to the penalties you will face for a San Diego assault conviction, you may find there are additional consequences, some of them very far-reaching. Your assault will go on your criminal record, which is available to employers as well as those who might rent you a home. You could find it difficult to obtain a job you are otherwise well-qualified for, to obtain a professional license, to obtain a government student loan or to find a place to live.
For all these reasons, it is extremely important that you bring a knowledgeable San Diego criminal defense attorney on board quickly following your arrest. As soon as you are aware you are being investigated, call an attorney—don’t gamble with your future.
Speak with a San Diego Assault and Battery Attorney Today
Call San Diego assault and battery attorney Vikas Bajaj today if you’re facing criminal charges. With over 15 years experience, attorney Bajaj will aggressively attack the prosecution’s case against you. Call today for a free consultation.