Under the state law of California, assault is defined as an attempt to cause serious bodily harm to another individual. Assault and battery are two different criminal charges. If an offender threatens the victim (with full intent to commit harm even without any physical contact) then it will be considered as an assault charge. Battery is a criminal offense that causes bodily harm to a victim.
In a common assault, some elements must be proven to prosecute the defendant. These include:
– Application of force
You may be charged with assault if there is any offensive physical contact with the victim. It need not be sexual. Any harmful touching by the supposed perpetrator even if it does not involve any serious wounding or another kind of injury, may be considered as assault under relevant statutes in California.
– Acting willfully or intentionally
This is also an important factor to be considered. In order to prosecute the accused, the assailant acted willfully or intentionally. Even with no actual intention of breaking the law, of inflicting bodily harm, or of gaining benefit from assaulting, the fact that the act was intentionally committed can be used by the prosecuted.
What are the punishments if you have been charged with assault?
The penalties for committing assault may vary, depending on the circumstance and severity of the criminal case. These include costly fines, misdemeanor probation, and six months of jail time. A simple assault may turn into an aggravated assault if there are aggravating factors. An offense could then fall under first degree, second degree, or third degree. Take for example an individual who has committed assault against a police officer or a law enforcement officer. The punishment for assaulting victims that belong to these and other professional categories may be aggravated in court. Such may also apply to a firefighter, a doctor, or a peace officer.
What are the possible defenses?
To protect your legal rights, it is recommended for you to hire a criminal defense attorney who has extensive knowledge and experience in handling assault cases. A good defense lawyer may use several factors that may reduce the sentence or drop the charges against an offender.
- The defendant could not commit violent crimes
- The defendant acted in self-defense
- The defendant did not act willfully
- The defendant is dealing with false allegations
Other crimes related to assault and battery
- Assault cases that caused serious physical injury
You may be prosecuted if you have caused serious bodily harm. You may also be convicted of battery charges if you have touched the victim in a harmful manner. The charges against you may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony charge.
- Assault with a weapon or firearm
This violent crime can cause very serious injuries against the alleged victim. It is generally considered a wobbler offense.
- Disturbing the peace
If you have fought someone in public, made unnecessary noise, or said provocative words against another individual, you may face charges of disturbing the peace. This offense is often classified as a low-class misdemeanor or as an infraction.
- Assaulting a police officer or a public servant
Purposely assaulting public officials either in retaliation or to stop them from performing their duties is considered a wobbler offense.
- Assault using caustic chemicals
Assault with caustic chemicals is defined as the throwing of any kind of harmful chemicals with full intent to inflict harm on the person. This falls under felony assault and generally comes with a punishment of two to four years of imprisonment.
Assault victims have the right to file a lawsuit against the assailant. It is their right to take legal action for compensation of medical expenses and lost wages. It does not require that the defendant is found guilty of the charge and that proceedings led to a conviction. An individual who was found not guilty may still be sued.
Assault charges need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard in a jury trial is the preponderance of the evidence.
To restore damages, the plaintiff must establish proof (by a preponderance of the evidence) that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. It must also be proven that with negligence, recklessness, or an intentional act, the defendant breached that obligation. Also, it must be proven that the victim suffered the injuries as a result of the breach.
The statute of limitations applicable under charges of assault usually takes up to one year (for a misdemeanor) or three years (for a felony charge). Note that defenses against civil assault charges are similar to charges of criminal assault.
Seek legal help and assistance. Hire competent defense lawyers to fight for you. Talk to us at the Law Offices of Marc Grossman. Call 855-5664-911 for a free consultation.