In California, simple assault is a misdemeanor offense that can lead to six months in jail. To commit simple assault, you must make an unlawful attempt to violently injure another person, and you must have the present ability to carry out that violent action. You do not need to cause physical harm to face charges and conviction for simple assault.
In some cases, courts refer to factors that will lead to more severe charges. Circumstances that increase the penalty for assault as "aggravating." Aggravated assault can be a felony crime. There are numerous ways in which a person might violate the law, leading to charges for aggravated assault.
The penalties for these charges are severe. It is essential that you speak with a California criminal defense lawyer to learn your legal rights and any potential defenses in your case. Remember that a felony conviction will stay on your record and can impact many aspects of your life.
Forms of Aggravated Assault and Examples
Assaulting a person with certain weapons might lead to more severe charges. For example, assault with a deadly weapon is a violation of 245a1 PC. Assault with a deadly weapon might include threatening somebody with a knife, a hammer, or even commanding a dangerous dog to attack that person. This crime can be a misdemeanor or a felony, but you may face up to four years in jail or prison for this violation in the most severe cases.
Assault with a firearm is a slightly different charge, detailed in 245a2 PC. This crime can involve any type of gun, including a pistol, hunting rifle, machine gun, or any other type of firearm. You might face charges for violations of this code if you strike a person with a gun, fire a gun at a person, or even point a gun at another individual. If convicted, you can face up to four years in prison for violating 245a2 PC. In some cases, prosecutors will charge this crime as a misdemeanor leading to less severe penalties.
Another aggravated assault charge includes the use of caustic chemicals. Assault with caustic chemicals violates 244 PC. Examples of assault with caustic chemicals would include throwing flammable or caustic substances on a person in order to cause injuries. This crime is a felony and can lead to four years in state prison.
Attacking or threatening specific individuals can also lead to aggravated charges. Violations of 241c PC include assaulting a police officer and any other public safety first responder engaged in their official duties. This law also protects firefighters, paramedics, traffic officers, animal control officers, search and rescue officers, and other individuals. Penal Code 241c is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
Penalties for Violations of PC 245
The penalties for aggravated assault will depend on the case's specific facts and whether state prosecutors charge the person with a misdemeanor or a felony. This sentence can include jail time or four years in state prison. You could also face a fine of up to $10,000 for certain violations. Of course, there are other potential consequences, including probationary periods, community service requirements, payment of restitution, in the possibly life-long impact of a criminal record.
Immigration Consequences for Violations of OC 245
Immigrants who violate the law can face specific penalties. In California, courts have found that aggravated assault qualifies as an aggravated felony for immigration law. Non-citizens who commit such crimes may face deportation or become inadmissible to the United States.
Second Amendment Rights and PC 245
If a court finds you guilty of aggravated assault, you might face a loss of your gun rights. Convicted felons cannot legally possess or own a gun. Therefore, if the court convicts you of felony aggravated assault, you will lose your right to own a firearm.
Defending Against Aggravated Assault Charges
There are possible defenses that may help individuals avoid facing conviction for this crime. You might be able to claim that you did not commit the assault and that there is no evidence to suggest that you carried out the alleged actions. This defense would potentially apply if someone made false accusations against you.
Another possible defense is that you were protecting yourself or another person. Self-defense is an affirmative defense that you may use if you believe you are in imminent danger, that you believed the force you used was necessary to stop that danger, and that the level of force was appropriate based on the circumstances. For instance, if you pointed a gun at a person who broke into your home, you might argue that you were defending yourself and your family.
Similar Statutes and Crimes
It is important to differentiate aggravated assault and assault charges in general from battery. Battery involves the willful use of force against another individual. You can face charges for assault if you never made contact with the alleged victim. To face conviction for battery, you must make contact with the other person. If that contact results in severe bodily injury, the crime becomes an aggravated battery.
Hiring a California Criminal Defense Lawyer
If prosecutors charge you with aggravated assault, you will need to speak to an experienced California criminal defense attorney. These charges can have a severe effect on your life and your future. Speaking to an attorney can help you develop a defense strategy that fits your case's specific facts.