Under Chapter Nine Section 240 of the California Penal Code, criminal assault is defined as an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another. There are two main types of criminal assault in the state of California. The two types of assault are referred to as simple assault and aggravated assault.

If you have been charged with either simple assault or aggravated assault, it is important to speak with an attorney with experience handling assault cases right away. California attorney Johann Hall has successfully defended many cases involving assault charges in the past. Contact attorney Johann Hall today to discuss your case and learn about your options.

Assault and Battery

Crimes of assault frequently occur as an attempt to commit a battery. A battery occurs when someone performs an intentional action that involves offensive or harmful touching of another person without their consent. Assault and battery are two separate crimes but due to the nature of the crimes, are often described together.

To commit an assault, it is required that the actor have “general intent.” Since assault does require the element of intent, you can’t accidentally assault someone. However, you can commit an assault if you did intend the actions which resulted in the assault. One example of this would be if you acted in such a way that is generally considered “dangerous” to others, and someone was injured, your actions can result in a finding of assault even if you did not have the specific intent to harm a particular person. An intent to scare someone else can also establish intent for assault purposes when someone is injured as a result, even if you did not mean to injure them and you just wanted to scare them.

Simple Assault

Simple assault, or an unlawful attempt along with a present ability to commit a violent injury on another person, is a crime in the State of California. If you are convicted of an assault, your penalties and sentencing will likely depend on your past criminal history, if any, along with the severity of the crime and any aggravating circumstances.

Under California law, a simple assault conviction is a misdemeanor that can be punishable by up to 6 months in county jail, and/or a period of probation, a fine of up to $1,000 and restitution to the victim. If you are required to pay restitution to the victim, you may be responsible for making the victim “whole” again, which can include payment for any medical bills they incurred as a result of their injuries due to the assault.

Aggravated Assault

When there is an aggravating circumstance to the underlying assault, you could potentially be charged with an aggravated assault rather than a simple assault. Aggravated assault falls under California Penal Code Section 245 and requires a clear intent to inflict serious bodily harm on another person.

Generally, a simple assault rises to the level of aggravated assault when it is clear that the perpetrator intended to inflict serious harm on someone with disregard for the victim’s life. Additionally, your charge may become elevated to aggravated assault in the event that a deadly weapon was involved in the assault or if the assault occurred during an attempt to commit a felony, such as rape or murder.

While simple assault is considered a misdemeanor under California law, aggravated assault may either be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. If you are charged with a misdemeanor aggravated assault and are convicted, you may be sentenced to probation, a jail sentence of up to one year, community service, a fine of up to $10,000 and you may also be required to pay restitution to the victim of the aggravated assault. If you are convicted of an aggravated assault as a felony, you may face the same penalties and fines, but you also may end up with a longer sentence in state prison instead.

Defenses to Charges of Assault and Aggravated Assault

If you have been charged with assault or aggravated assault, it is very important that you contact an attorney right away. Your attorney will be able to evaluate your case and go over any potential defenses you may have that could help you win your case or reduce your charges. Some common defenses to assault charges include self-defense, consent of the victim, defense of others, and defense of property. Call California criminal defense attorney Johann Hall today to get started with legal representation and to begin developing your best path to defending your case.