Assault is a very serious crime under San Diego, California law, but there are many misconceptions about the charges that make it difficult for people to understand. For example, people commonly think that assault and battery are identical charges and that injury is required for someone to file assault charges. While assault laws differ amongst states, in California, both of these misconceptions are simply not true. If you are facing assault charges, a San Diego assault defense lawyer is going to be an asset throughout navigating these difficult laws and nuances.
When facing an assault charge, you and your San Diego Criminal defense lawyer should be able to identify the following:
- The basics of assault charges
- The different types of assault and how they are penalized
- The way that assault charges are commonly prosecuted
- How an assault defense lawyer can help your case
Despite the serious nature of assault charges, do not feel inclined to plead guilty immediately. Speaking with an assault defense attorney in San Diego, California can help you get a better understanding of the charges against you and provide a clear sense of all your options.
- 1 Penalties for Assault vs. Battery
- 2 Identifying Types of Assault Charges
- 3 How Are Criminal Assault Charges Proven?
- 4 How a San Diego Assault Defense Attorney Can Help
- 5 Contact a San Diego Assault Defense Lawyer Today
Penalties for Assault vs. Battery
California Penal Code Section 240, Simple Assault: This misdemeanor triggers up six months of jail time and various fines of up to $1,000, as well as restitution and compensation for the victim.
California Penal Code Section 242, Battery: Either a misdemeanor up to six months in county jail, and/or maximum fine $2,000, with probation or felony (depending on the nature of the offense) punishable by up to three years in county jail or state prison, a fine of $2,000 up to $10,000, or both, probation.
Identifying Types of Assault Charges
Defining assault as a singular action would be wrong. Under the Penal Code, there are several types of assault charges.
Simple is for incidents where no weapon was involved, and the victim’s injuries were minor. It is considered a misdemeanor and typically results in a fine or a county jail sentence of no more than six months.
If the victim suffers more notable injuries, a bodily harm assault charge is filed.
An Assault that is Carried Out with a Weapon
This is categorized under Penal Code 245(a)(1), and states that any person who commits assault upon another person with a deadly weapon will be punished by imprisonment in the state prison up to four years, in a county jail for a maximum of one year, or by a maximum fine of $10,000.
To classify as aggravated assault weapons are used, and injuries are severe. Aggravated assault charges are prosecuted under Penal Code 245, and is known as a “wobbler,” meaning it may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. A misdemeanor conviction may result in probation, a jail sentence of up to one year, up to $10,000 in fines, victim compensation, confiscation of the weapon (if the convicted individual owns it), possible community service and a mandatory Anger Management course.
An act of assault involving non-consensual sex and a threat with a violent act is another more serious charge. Under the Penal Code, this form of assault may be categorized as either a felony or a misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, it may result in a fine of up to $10,000, while as a felony, it triggers jail sentence of up to four years. To prove sexual assault, the prosecutor must establish the following:
- The defendant touched the victim’s intimate parts while the victim was restrained by the defendant or another person. The touching may occur through direct contact with the victim’s skin or indirect contact through the victim’s clothing.
- The touching was against the victim’s will. The prosecutor must establish that the victim did not consent to the contact.
- The defendant intended to engage in the unwanted touching for the purpose of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse. If the defendant touched the victim for a non-sexual purpose, such as a medical professional conducting an examination, it might be more difficult for the prosecutor to establish the required elements for a successful case.
Similar to the escalation from simple to aggravated assault, the assault is considered aggravated when there were more serious injuries for the victim and the use of weaponry. Aggravated sexual assault is categorized as a felony.
The penalties for assault in California are also more severe if the victim is a public servant and belongs to a few specific professional categories, such as:
- Peace officer (police or other law enforcement)
- Emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic
- Traffic officer
- Process server
- Animal Control officer
- Code enforcement officer
- Search and rescue member
- Doctor or nurse providing emergency medical care
In this case, the maximum county jail sentence will increase from six months to a year, while the fine amount doubles as well to $2,000. The maximum fine for assault will also increase to $2,000 if the victim is a parking control officer engaged in the performance of his/her duties. Sadly, this profession is a common target of assault and battery.
The severity of the assault charge can usually be argued in court, as a seasoned San Diego assault defense lawyer will be able to provide the best defense possible.
Regardless of the charge, once you are convicted, your criminal record will reflect this for the rest of your life, which will have consequences that last far longer than any penalties immediately incurred.
How Are Criminal Assault Charges Proven?
A number of different methods and evidentiary devices are used in court to argue an assault charge. If you are working with an assault defense lawyer to mediate your case, you will need to be aware of the following ways that assault charges are proven:
Crime Scene Evidence
Physical evidence is accumulated through evidence that can help ‘recreate’ the scene of the incident. This evidence can include marks on a person’s belongings, DNA evidence, and anything else that can establish a pattern of events.
Police reports are generally held to be reliable documents, as they are typically made at the scene of a crime or at the precinct in the immediate aftermath. These reports provide an account of the incident as soon as it happened and cannot be subject to shifting storylines.
Witness testimony is gathered through the written and verbal statements of bystanders and others to provide insight into how the altercation unfolded. Battery charges are determined by establishing key facts, such as who hit first or who was provoked. Witness testimony can provide valuable answers to a courtroom.
Testimony made by medical experts and revealed in medical reports can reveal very important information in an assault case. Medical testimony can reveal whether a weapon was used, and how extensive the injuries of the victim were. They are also a point of evidence that is usually indisputable in court.
Statements that are made by the victim can occasionally confirm the innocence of a defendant if they do not align with an established set of events. If your assault charge is brought to court, you will likely be faced with examples from each of these categories discussed above, and you will want to speak with your assault defense attorney to ensure they are prepared for anything that might be revealed about the assault incident.
Keeping your assault defense attorney informed about every piece of evidence that might be used against you will prevent surprises in the courtroom. An assault defense lawyer needs to be fully informed in order to provide the best possible outcome for you.
How a San Diego Assault Defense Attorney Can Help
If you are facing charges for assault, you are not required to have an attorney. However, if you are expecting to go to court for your charges, it is never advisable to go without an assault defense lawyer. The laws surrounding criminal cases are very complicated, and the circumstances surrounding assault charges are very rarely black and white. A good assault defense lawyer can help you to navigate and prepare for all of the legalities that you will encounter.
Furthermore, under the U.S. Constitution, you are not required to speak in a court of law, and your assault defense lawyer will be able to make decisions about when it is beneficial for you to speak up. There are times when your own statements can help the prosecutor to fill in the gaps in their case, and your own words can be used against you. Having good legal representation with a San Diego, California assault defense attorney is a way to ensure that this does not happen.
Some people are inclined to give up and plead guilty when faced with an assault charge. You should not exercise this judgment until an assault defense lawyer has reviewed the case and determined the best course of action for you to take. An assault defense lawyer may review the case and find that the evidence filed is not sufficient to get a conviction. Your assault defense lawyer will analyze the evidence presented in the case by the prosecutors and use the thorough knowledge of the law to exclude certain pieces of evidence. An assault defense attorney that has your best interests at heart will be able to spot any technical prosecution issues and eliminate the possibility of a conviction unless there is satisfactory evidence for that conviction.
Contact a San Diego Assault Defense Lawyer Today
At San Diego Criminal, our expert assault defense attorneys have handled hundreds of assault cases and are prepared to work with you to ensure the best possible outcome for the charges laid against you. Having an assault defense attorney is important when understanding the nuances of assault laws and deciding the best course of action to take. As you prepare to meet with your San Diego assault defense attorney, you should now have confidence in knowing:
- The basics of assault charges
- Different types of assault charges
- How assault is proven in court
- How an assault defense lawyer can help your case
Ultimately, your San Diego Criminal defense lawyer is prepared to work hard on your behalf to ease the consequences of your assault charges and ensure the best possible outcome. Contact an assault defense lawyer today for a risk-free consultation and to begin the process of fighting your assault charges.