Assault on a Police Officer - PC 241(c)

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California Penal Code Elements for Assault on a Police Officer 

California Penal Code 241 makes it a crime for a person to commit an assault on a police officer or other public safety first responder, while they are engaged in the performance of their duties. 

This offense is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a sentence up to one year in county jail and a fine up to $2,000. 

Defining Simple Assault 

In order to understand assault on a police officer, you must understand what a simple assault is. 

An assault is an unlawful attempt with a present ability to commit a violent injury on the person of another. In order for the assault to be committed, the victim has to be put in reasonable fear of receiving a battery. The victim must be put in ACTUAL fear of receiving a battery. 

Examples of Assault on a Police Officer 

Some examples of assault on a police officer are: 

  • Throwing a rock at a police officer 
  • Trying to punch or slap a police officer, even without hitting him or her 
  • Spitting in the face of a police officer 


Even though a police officer or other safety officer would be the victim in this crime, it does not mean that there aren’t legal defenses available to you. 

Some possible defenses include self-defense, no assault occurred, or the victim is not actually a police officer or public officer. 

One of the key elements of self-defense is that you, as the alleged defendant, was reasonably in fear of death or great bodily harm. This can be tricky when a police officer is involved. However, if your attorney can successfully argue that you were in fear for your life, you’ll have a successful self-defense claim. This could lead to a dismissal of the charge, acquittal of the charge, or a lesser criminal conviction with less penalties. 

Additionally, in order for the prosecution to win a successful assault conviction, they must show that the victim (police officer) was in actual fear of receiving a battery (i.e. being hit).  If your attorney can show that the victim was not in actual fear of receiving a battery, then the defendant can’t be convicted of an assault; this is the same even if the alleged victim is a police officer. 

Penalties at Sentencing 

A violation of CA Penal Code 241 is a misdemeanor. 

It is punishable by serving time in a county jail for a maximum of one year and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. 

A judge can sentence the defendant to misdemeanor probation instead of jail time, depending on the circumstances of the case and the victim’s wishes. However, the sentencing is entirely within the discretion of the judge. 

Other Penalties 

Besides the possible jail time and fines that can be ordered during sentencing, there are other penalties that may affect your specific situation. 

If you are an undocumented immigrant, your immigration status may be in jeopardy. There is always a chance that if you, as an undocumented immigrant, can be deported because it gets ICE’s attention. 

However, the good news is that a conviction under Penal Code 241s, assault on a police officer, is not a crime in which deportation is required. Therefore, your status may remain untouched.  

Additionally, your gun rights will likely not be impacted. Some crimes in California require that the convicted person lose their right to bear arms. A conviction for assault on a police officer will likely not change your gun rights. 

Related Offenses 

There are crimes that can be charged in addition to Penal Code 241c, or are similar to assault on a police officer. 

These include: battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, and resisting an executive officer. Again, these can often be charged with assault on a police officer if all the elements are met for both crimes.