Facing an assault charge can be overwhelming and confusing for offenders. The charge involves two parties, each with a different story of how things took place. Therefore, this makes the case complicated and consumes much time in court. At the Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we have a great team of attorneys who will help you maneuver around a simple assault charge. Below is all you need to know concerning a simple assault charge.
Overview Of Simple Assault
Simple assault refers to the crime of committing or attempting to commit a violent injury on a person. Committing an assault could cost you an intense court battle, and you may end up facing some serious charges.
The standard charge of violating this law falls under the PC 240 law that states that it is unlawful to commit a violent injury on a person. This law regulates the behavior of people in California and provides a guideline of how people should relate to each other.
In most cases, people use the terms battery and assault interchangeably assuming that they refer to the same thing. However, it is vital to note that assault and batteries are two distinct charges, and you may end up facing both. While assault is just an attempt that involves unlawful violence, battery is the actual use of force and violence against someone.
To convict you of assault, the prosecutor will need to prove that there was an application of force and an intention to harm. While your intentions may have been pure, it may be challenging to prove this in a court of law.
Therefore, you may need to hire a reasonable defense attorney to get you off the hook for the charges. Our Orange County Criminal defense lawyers will ensure that the prosecution team lessens the charges on your case. Besides, they could also get the court to drop your charges.
Elements Of A Simple Assault
The elements of a simple assault refer to the facts that the prosecution team must prove to convict you of the charge. The features of this charge will be discussed below.
Application Of Force
The application of force refers to any harmful or offensive touching of a person. Touching a person becomes an offense if the victim feels that the touch was a violation of their rights.
However, it is vital to note that you may still face assault charges even if the touch did not cause any bodily harm. Additionally, touching the victim indirectly, e.g., by the use of an object could always count as an assault as long as the touch was offensive.
Besides, you may also face a simple assault charge even if you did not succeed in applying force to the other person. This happens when the prosecution team manages to prove that you took an action that could have resulted in the application of force to the victim.
Acting willfully refers to doing something on purpose. Therefore, this means that the prosecution team has to prove that you intended to apply force on someone. Additionally, they may also try to convince the jury of the following:
- that you broke the law,
- you hurt the victim, and
- you had something to gain by committing the offense.
Though you may not have intended to commit the assault, the prosecution assumes that you were aware of the consequences, but you still chose to commit the offense. Therefore, it becomes challenging to exonerate you of the charges.
You were Aware That Your Actions May Lead To An Application Of Force
For the court to convict you of a simple assault charge; they will not only look at your intentions to cause harm. They may also evaluate whether you were aware that your actions could lead to the application of force.
Therefore, if the prosecutor succeeds in proving that you were aware, you will face a conviction of the crime. This also applies even if you did not cause actual injuries to the victim.
Simple Assault Related Charges
In some circumstances, you may face additional charges on top of your assault charge. You may also face these charges in place of the assault charge. The following are the charges that are usually associated with a simple assault case:
PC 242 Battery charge
As discussed earlier, an assault charge is different from a battery one. While PC 240 only talks about the intention to cause harm, PC 242, requires that the offender causes actual damage or uses violence on someone else.
A battery offense is a misdemeanor that involves the payment of fines of up to 2000 dollars. Besides, you may also end up serving a county jail sentence for up to six months. However, the penalties may differ depending on the circumstances surrounding your case.
In aggravated situations, the offender may face a felony charge for the crime. A felony battery charge will cost you more severe penalties, and you may end up facing a four-year jail sentence in state prison.
PC 415 Peace Disturbances
Disturbing the peace of people falls under the category of a low-level misdemeanor. This charge mostly applies where the evidence presented against you is too weak, and the prosecutor is having a hard time proving that you committed an assault. The law states that it is a crime to do the following:
- Fight a person in public
- Direct offensive words to a person in public
- Make unnecessary noise that disturbs others
The penalties for violating this law are not as heavy as those of committing an assault. Therefore, having your assault charge reduced to disturbing the peace offense still counts as a victory on the defendant’s side.
The standard penalties for violating this law are a maximum jail sentence of up to 90 days in county jail.
PC 245 (A) Assault With A Dangerous Weapon
If while committing the assault you are alleged to have used a weapon, then you may face multiple charges. You will not only face simple assault charges but also committing an assault with a deadly weapon charge.
Assaulting a person with a dangerous weapon is considered a wobbler. A wobbler offense means that the offender will either face felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the circumstances. When charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant may face a jail sentence of up to one year while a felony charge could cost the defendant a jail sentence of up to four years.
PC 217(a) Assaulting a Public Official
This law protects public officials from assault while in their line of duty. The attack on a public official involves using violence or physical force on a public official, either as retaliation or to prevent them from committing their duties.
Public officials involve the likes of executive officers of local or state agencies. Additionally, judges, public defenders, and prosecutors also fall under this category.
Similarly, assaulting certain individuals counts as an offense by the state. Examples of such professionals include the following:
- Medical doctors and nurses
- School employees
- Highway workers
- Animal control officers
Like PC 245, PC 217 is also a wobbler meaning that the penalties will vary depending on whether the case is a felony or misdemeanor. A misdemeanor charge incurs a county jail sentence of up to one year, and a felony sentence could last up to three years.
VC 23110 Throwing An Object At A Car
Violating VC 23110 is an offense that is punishable by the state. You may face conviction of this offense when you throw a substance or object at a car in a public place.
Unlike a standard assault charge, the VC 23110 does not require that the defendant apply force to the victims. Here, the victim refers to the car itself or the people inside it. Therefore, this makes you guilty of the crime even if the object did not have any chance of hitting the car.
Violating this code is also a wobbler. In most cases, the prosecutor considers it a misdemeanor if the object-directed at the car did not have the potential of causing harm. Besides, the state charges it as a felony if the defendant intended to cause damage or significant bodily injury.
PC 224 Assault With Chemicals
This offense is more dangerous compared to the rest. Assault with caustic chemicals involves throwing caustic chemicals to someone’s body to injure them.
The court considers the violation of this law as a felony. It could cost you a jail sentence of up to four years in a state prison depending on the circumstances.
At Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we advise that you consult us if you are facing an assault charge or any of the above-related charges.
Having an assault record gives people the impression that you are a violent person. Hence, it is essential to hire an attorney who will present a good argument in court, thus ensuring that you do not face a conviction for the charge.
The following defenses may apply to your assault case:
You acted in self-defense, or that of others
If you committed an assault offense while trying to protect yourself or others, then you can use that as a defense in court. The court accepts this as a defense if the crime occurred under the following circumstances:
- You believed that the application of force was crucial in defending yourself against danger,
- You committed the offense while trying to protect your own or other peoples properties,
- You felt that someone was in danger of being touched unlawfully or suffering bodily injury and
- You did not use more force than that which was required for defense.
However, it is vital to note that self-defense cannot apply where the defendant tried to hit the victim after having been insulted with offensive words. This means that the law only allows you to claim self-defense if you committed the offense with the belief that you or someone else was facing potential danger.
You could not apply force or violence
Prosecutors consider you innocent of committing an assault if you could not inflict force. The inability to inflict force could happen because of present circumstances. For example, an excessively drunk person could be unable to exert force on another. Similarly, a severely sick person may lack the stamina to inflict force on another. You also lack ability when you swing a punch in the opposite direction; hence, you cannot injure the person.
You were falsely accused
It is easy to blame someone of assault, as it does not require one to be physically injured. People accuse others falsely due to the following reasons:
- Need for revenge
To maneuver around such a circumstance, you require the expertise of an experienced attorney. Your lawyer will help you gather and interview witnesses to ensure that the victim reveals the truth.
You did not act willfully
You are not guilty of an assault charge if you did not willfully try to use force on someone. Similarly, you are innocent of the charge if you did not intend to cause bodily injury to the victim.
This defense will apply to those who committed the actions accidentally or as a result of misunderstandings. Misunderstandings mean that the victim wrongly interpreted the defendant’s actions.
Your defense attorney will, therefore, have to apply diplomatic skills to ensure that the jury and the prosecution team get to listen to the whole story.
If the above defenses are somewhat related to your case, then you need not worry. Our Orange County Defense lawyers will ensure that they use the arguments in your favor to earn you a good outcome.
Although a simple assault case is a serious charge, the court takes it as a misdemeanor. Therefore, this means that the defendant has the option of a plea bargain instead of having to battle it out in court.
Hiring a competent attorney will not only assure you of a good outcome but could help keep your record as clean as possible. Below is the standard court process for assault misdemeanors in California;
Reporting of the crime
The first step of an assault case involves the victim filing a claim against the defendant. She/he will inform the assault to the police to have the defendant arrested.
However, it does not always mean that someone else cannot file a complaint on behalf of the victim. A witness is a person who observed the assault happening and can take the initiative of reporting the crime so long as the victim is willing to cooperate.
The officer makes an arrest
In this stage, the victim has to meet up with the prosecutor to help them determine the potential of the case. In addition, the victim files formal charges with the prosecutor, and in turn, the prosecutor decides whether the evidence presented by the victim is enough.
However, the prosecutor may choose to send a warning letter to the offender instead of filing a case. Similarly, the prosecutor could decide that the two parties try mediation. The decision to file or fail to file the charge depends on the evidence presented to the prosecutor.
If the evidence is enough to stand in a court of law, then the prosecutor issues the offender a warrant of arrest in case the issue is too severe. Where the problem does not require urgent attention, the court issues a summon to the defendant to appear in court.
Arraignment should happen within seventy-two hours of arrest. Here, the court grants the defendant the opportunity to enter a plea bargain with the prosecution team. The court also informs the defendant of the charges made against him.
Failure to attend the court, the summons could lead to arrest, i.e., if the defendant had not been arrested yet.
A bail hearing grants an offender temporary freedom. This will apply to those people who had already received a warrant of arrest and are still in jail when the trial takes place.
It is the right of every defendant to have a bail hearing. However, the amount of bail that you pay depends on the prowess of your attorney to defend you. A reasonable attorney notifies the prosecutor of your intention to file for bail as a way of initiating the bail hearing process.
Applying for bail does not always mean that the court will grant it to you. This is because the prosecution team may contest bail for valid reasons. They may also challenge the reduction of your bond if they feel that you do not deserve it.
In this stage, the defendant’s attorney files the motion in court or agrees to a plea bargain. The court allows the defendant to plead guilty of the offense to have the charges reduced. The plea bargains available are as follows:
- Guilty - the offender admits to the crime
- Not guilty - the offender denies the allegations and has to wait till the next hearing
- No contest - the offender refuses to accept or reject the charges hence leaving the task to the courts. The judge makes the decision based on facts and pieces of evidence presented
The reasons the prosecution offers the plea bargain are as follows:
- Lack of sufficient evidence to prove the charge
- Avoiding wastage of time
- Avoiding the expense of trial
The reason people plead guilty on a charge is to get a lesser charge compared to the severe current charge that they are facing.
This stage only takes place if the offender fails to plead guilty of the offense. The jury and the judges take time listening to both sides of the story to determine whether the accused is guilty of assault.
At this stage, the jury strives to ensure that they find the offender guilty beyond reasonable doubt for them to issue out a sentence. To help the courts come to a decision, both the prosecution and the defendants present their arguments and evidence.
After considering all sides of the case, the jury comes to a decision. The decision they make is final and is a signal that the case has ended.
The sentence may take the form of fines or actual imprisonment, depending on the severity of the case itself. While the penalties may differ for different cases, the standard penalties may still apply.
In most cases, the jury may request that the victim receive compensation from the offender for the costs incurred during the court process and the trauma of having to deal with the assault.
However, if either party feels that the judgment was unfair, they can always file for an appeal. The appeal grants them the chance to present their case all over again and to different judges.
Simple Assault Penalties
Typically, a simple assault case is a misdemeanor that is punishable by the state. The penalty for this charge is six months to one year in jail.
Before issuing out the sentence, the judge is under the discretion to treat the case as a misdemeanor. Therefore, this means that the judge cannot issue out a sentence that is beyond the standard length of misdemeanors.
However, it is crucial to note that once a simple assault changes to an aggravated one, the penalty terms also change. The sentence of aggravated assault could be up to four years.
In addition to the jail sentence, the defendant could also receive the following penalties; performing community service, house arrest, or attending educational programs. These penalties could also serve as a replacement for the jail sentence.
Find A Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Regardless of being the victim or offender in an assault case, it is still vital to hire a reliable attorney. Assault cases are complicated and require the expertise of competent attorneys. A reasonable attorney not only provides insights on how to handle the situation but also ensures that you receive a good outcome. If you or your close companions are facing assault charges, you need not to worry. You can call the Orange County Criminal Lawyer at 714-740-7848 to book an appointment.