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Penal Code 240 is the one you are dealing with if you’ve been accused of simple assault. Simple assault is defined as “an attempt to commit a violent injury on someone else.” And like all legal definitions, there’s so much information in just that brief string of words. Only attorneys are able to properly understand how the penal code is applied in assault cases. In most instances, assault will be considered a misdemeanor under California’s criminal laws, but there may be more serious forms of assault that classify as a felony.
If you’ve been accused of assault, you’re being charged with a crime that is very serious. It’s always wise to remember that as a violent crime, it will look more shocking when potential employers encounter it on a background check, even if it’s not a felony. It’s very important to try to get the charge dropped altogether or reduced to a lesser charge that is not in the realm of violent offenses. These types of offenses can be particularly damaging over one’s life.
What Does The Prosecution Need To Prove
There are a few components of assault that the prosecution must prove, and they are very straight-forward.
1. You did something that was likely to end in the use of force against another person
2. You did that something willfully
3. Any reasonable person would look at your actions and know that they were going to result in the use of force being used against another human being
In California law, there is a distinction between assault and the other crime of battery. Battery means that force was actually applied. Assault means that you only attempted to apply force. Actually being successful at it doesn’t mean it happened.
What Does Assault Look Like?
To give you just a few random examples of what might result in an assault charge, take the example of a furious road rage moment where a man swings at someone but fails to land the punch. The thrown punch constitutes simple assault. The victim had reason to believe that he would be hit, and for that reason, there’s an attempt to use force against someone, albeit unsuccessfully in this case. If the punch lands, it might be a battery charge, and these charges can be much more severe.
Penalties for Assault
Since assault is a misdemeanor, it can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and 6 months in county jail on average. Fortunately, a good defense attorney can use many defenses for an assault charge, and you may be able to get the case thrown out entirely. Sometimes the other party might drop the case. Other times, your lawyer might have to prove that an assault simply didn’t occur.
– Required intent is missing
– Someone lied and said you assaulted them but you didn’t
– You have no ability to inflict violence on another person
Hiring an attorney
As you can see, there are some stiff penalties for assault, and no one should go into a courtroom to face one of these charges without a good lawyer by their side. When you have a lawyer, you have someone who knows the definition of the crime very well, who knows the defenses, and who knows how to apply those defenses to your own case. They know what works and what doesn’t with a specific court. Those are things that anyone but an attorney simply wouldn’t be familiar with.
If you’ve been charged with simple assault, it’s time to phone a lawyer. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for them to defend your case. In many instances, a good lawyer can have your assault charge thrown out altogether or they can get you probation and help you avoid jail time. Sometimes they may reduce the charge to something different that plays out less seriously when viewed on a background report. Remember: Even misdemeanors will show up on a background report, and sometimes they’ll show up for life. Don’t face future employment frustration by going it alone. Hire a lawyer and save your record.