Aggravated Assault Lawyer for San Diego, CA
Aggravated assault in San Diego, California, is punished more severely by criminal laws due to the severity of the crime. While simple assault requires only the threat of injury against another party, an aggravated assault charge is intensified by a few factors:
The use of a weapon
The intent of the perpetrator to commit increased harm
The degree of the injury caused
Assaults that happen in a victim’s home also qualify as aggravated assault. While simple assaults qualify as misdemeanors, aggravated assaults are usually categorized as felony charges, although certain states have different rules about this. Aggravated assault involves serious injuries or the addition of weapons into the equation. Even if someone aimed a gun at another person with no intention of pulling the trigger, that could be considered aggravated assault. Understanding all the components of an aggravated assault charge will help you to anticipate the penalties you may face. An aggravated assault lawyer is not required for assault cases, but it is highly recommended because an aggravated assault lawyer in San Diego, California, can help guide you towards a better outcome in your case.
Aggravated assault lawyers can help you understand:
The penalties for aggravated assault in California
The definition of aggravated assault
The impact of weapons on your sentence
Key factors in aggravated assault cases
Common defenses of aggravated assault
How an Aggravated Assault Lawyer Can Help
Your aggravated assault lawyer will help you understand the nuances that are often found in these charges and help you to construct a defense if the situation allows for one. An aggravated assault attorney is a critical partner for pursuing the best possible outcome for your case.
Aggravated Assault in California
Aggravated assault is prosecuted aggressively in California, and criminal sentencing can be severe. Aggravated assault is defined under Penal Code 245 as the “willful application of force, coupled with the present ability to carry out a threat of harm is committed using a weapon or force capable of producing great bodily injury or death of another person.” There are a few key ways an aggravated assault lawyer will break down this phrasing to better understand the implications:
Willful: To act willingly; or on purpose.
Application of Force: This can be defined as the touching of another individual in a manner that is harmful or offensive. Touching does not have to be done with hands – under the penal code, it can be indirect contact with an object, or through another person.
Present Ability to Harm: This phrase does not necessitate actual intent to use force on a person. In this part of the Penal Code, the ability to apply force would likely cause harm to another person.
Another Person: This can include a person’s clothing or other item attached to an individual
Deadly Weapon: Any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or one that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and is likely to cause death or great bodily injury of another person.
Defendant Did Not Act in Self-Defense: The burden is on the prosecution to prove that the defendant did not act in self-defense. This means that a person in your particular circumstances would not have reasonably acted in self-defense.
It will be the job of your aggravated assault attorney to assist you in assembling the details of the case, and providing a defense based on disproving these key charges.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault
Although other states have different rules, aggravated assault in California can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the incident and your aggravated assault lawyer. The severity of the sentencing is usually dependent on the injuries that the victim sustained, the intent of harm, and the use of weapons. Because aggravated assault in California is prosecuted under Penal Code 245, the charges can result in the following:
A jail sentence of up to one year
Up to $10,000 in fines
Confiscation of the weapon (if it is owned by the convicted individual)
Possible community service and/or a mandatory Anger Management course.
California also has a ‘three-strikes’ law that was instituted in 1994. The three strikes law mandates that if you are convicted of a felony with two previous charges on your record, your sentence can be doubled. A felony aggravated assault conviction can count as a “strike’ on your record and has the potential to land you in prison for the rest of your life.
Due to the very serious nature of the penalties you can face, you will need an aggravated assault attorney to advocate on your behalf. A California aggravated assault lawyer can explain the legal details of the charges against you, the consequences, and whatever options you may have for a defense.
How Does the Use of Weapons Impacted Aggravated Assault Charges?
The presence of a weapon is often one of the things that can elevate a simple assault to aggravated assault. Even with the presence of a weapon, the assault can still be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony according to California law, but there are many additional factors that can increase the sentence. There are a few key weapons your aggravated assault lawyer will notice when predicting whether the assault will be classified as a misdemeanor or felony:
If the weapon used in the assault was a handgun or a rifle, a sentence of up to 9 years in California can be imposed.
If the weapon was a machine gun or assault weapon, your sentence would increase to 12 years.
If the victim is a law enforcement officer or a firefighter, and clearly acting in a professional capacity during the attack, the sentence in California will be 12 years in a state prison.
Ultimately, these factors will determine the penalties that you could face if convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. That is why it is imperative that your aggravated assault attorney is able to establish the factors that exist in your case. If there was no weapon or if it was used in a capacity that does not qualify as ‘deadly,’ the case can be altered. If you lacked the ability to harm others with the weapon, this will also impact your sentencing. These kinds of mitigating factors are extremely important to your aggravated assault attorney, and they will use this information to negotiate the terms of your punishment. It is equally important for your aggravated assault attorney to address any aggravating factors in your case early on in order to prevent an enhanced sentence if you are convicted.
All of this information can help your aggravated assault lawyer determine the length you stay behind bars and the fines you will ultimately pay.
Other Key Factors of Aggravated Assault Charges in San Diego, California
Aside from the use of weaponry, there are additional factors that can lead a simple assault to be classified as an aggravated assault. These factors are:
The identity of the victim
The intent of the perpetrator
The degree of injury
The definition of a deadly weapon
For someone facing assault charges, these are difficult factors to keep track of and understand how they might apply to your unique situation. An aggravated assault lawyer will be able to guide you making these assessments, as they are of critical importance to your case.
The Identity of the Victim
Some simple assaults become aggravated assaults depending on the victim in question. California has additional charges and fines that can be placed if the victim was a police officer, EMT, firefighter, or any other form of a public service worker. For an assault against one of these public servants to count as aggravated assault, they must have been performing the role of a professional capacity when the assault took place. Additionally, the perpetrator must have been aware of the status as a service member through a uniform or other marker or indicator.
In addition to assaults on certain protected professions, assault charges can be increased if the incident is determined to be a hate crime. Hate crimes are generally defined by an assault carried out against an individual because of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. If an assault is carried out against an individual with reason to believe it was motivated by identity, the charges of simple assault may be increased in severity to aggravated assault.
Intent of the Perpetrator
The mental state of the perpetrator can also increase a charge from simple assault to aggravated assault. If it is found that the perpetrator acted with the intent to cause severe harm or threatened severe harm, an assault can become aggravated. Depending on the incident and the individual in question, reckless behavior can also constitute aggravated assault. For example, if an individual acts with reckless indifference to human life, even if they don’t have the specific intent to injure that person, they still could be charged with aggravated assault. Especially if a dangerous or deadly weapon is involved, an assault may become aggravated even without the specific intent to injure.
Degree of Injury to the Victim
More serious injuries to the victim can cause a simple assault to become an aggravated assault. In most states, assaults causing serious bodily injury qualify as aggravated assaults. The seriousness of an injury will vary greatly from case to case. Injuries threatening death will qualify as a serious injury, as will those who maim or disfigure the victim. Some states specify by statute particular injuries that qualify as serious. If a method of assault which would normally cause death only causes minor physical injury, some states will still punish it as aggravated assault (or even attempted homicide).
Sexual assaults usually qualify as a separate type of assault, but depending on the state, you could be charged with aggravated assault or rape if the incident included unwanted sexual contact.
What is the Definition of a Deadly Weapon in California?
Believe it or not, the definition of a deadly weapon can differ amongst aggravated assault cases and can be a key determination for aggravated assault lawyers in constructing your case.
Weapons classified as ‘deadly’ include much more than guns or firearms. ‘Deadly weapons’ are those that would cause serious injury or death to an individual, such as knives, clubs, chains, etc. The definition of deadly weapon alters depending on how the weapon was used against another individual. For example, a small pocket knife would not generally be classified as a deadly weapon, but if it is held against someone’s throat in an assault, it could be deadly.
Ultimately, the definition of a deadly weapon used in an aggravated assault has no fixed definition, which is why it is important to consult an aggravated assault lawyer when faced with this charge. The average civilian would likely have no idea the intricacies of this definition, but an aggravated assault lawyer can use acquired knowledge to alter the outcome of the case.
Common Defenses of Aggravated Assault
The defense of an aggravated assault will vary by jurisdiction, which is why it is so important to have an aggravated assault lawyer who understands the laws in your locality. However, there are a few common defenses of aggravated assault that generally apply to most situations. Consent is a common defense of aggravated assault, and it can be used if you feel that the victim consented to the risk of harm. Consent can be a defense in cases that involve games such as boxing, wrestling, general horseplay, so well as circumstances that involve surgery or body alterations such as tattoos or piercings.
The defense of crime prevention is also common, as your aggravated assault lawyer may be able to prove that your actions were taken as a response to protect yourself and others. The prevention of crime can also be extended to include defense of property, as by law you have the right to defend yourself against intrusion. The defense of crime prevention must include strong proof that you had a reasonable fear for your own safety, or the safety of others and acted accordingly. It is important to note that most aggravated assault lawyers will take into account the fact that you cannot exercise a stronger degree of force than the threat posed to you. For example, you cannot use a deadly weapon if an unarmed person was simply trespassing.
Reach Out to a San Diego, California Aggravated Assault Lawyer Today
If you are facing aggravated assault charges in California, you will need experienced aggravated assault attorneys on your side to navigate the legalities of the situation. Aggravated assault charges are extremely serious, and you can face consequences that will impact you for years if the charge is not dealt with in an appropriate manner. Get in touch with an aggravated assault lawyer so you can better understand:
The differences between simple assault and aggravated assault
The laws and penalties for aggravated assault charges in California
Retain an Experienced Aggravated Assault Lawyer
Your aggravated assault attorney will be able to help you examine the situation and evaluate the best possible outcome for the charges that you are facing. Don’t deal with an aggravated assault charge on your own. Contact us today for a consultation. Our aggravated assault attorneys will ensure that you are respected, taken seriously, and taken care of throughout the process.