Assault and Battery Lawyer in Riverside County

Successful Defense Against Assault Charges in California

Riverside Assault Attorney

If you’ve been charged with assault in California, the potential consequences are severe, and can affect you for the rest of your life. Whether you are at fault or not, there’s no doubt that you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side.

Here, we’ll discuss assault charges from all angles, including its legal definition, potential penalties (jail time, fines, etc.), and share common and successful defense strategies.

What is assault?

Simply put, assault is defined as an “unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” (California Penal Code 240).

The key word in that definition is “attempt.” That’s important because, in many instances, charges of Assault and Battery are made. California law (Penal Code 242) defines that as the actual “use of force or violence upon the person of another.”

Severity of any injury to a potential victim isn’t an issue; rather, the issue is that they were touched in an offensive way.

What are some examples of assault?

Remember, assault occurs when you intentionally attempt to hurt someone. Merely walking through a crowd at a bar, for example, and inadvertently bumping into someone does not make you guilty of assault.

Intentionally taking a swing at someone, however, does constitute assault – even if they duck out of the way, and you don’t actually make contact.

Aggressive Attorney Stephen Sweigart
What are the degrees of assault and the potential penalties?

There are varying levels of assault.

  • Simple assault occurs when no weapon has been used and the injuries sustained – if any – are minor. If convicted, you’ll most likely be guilty of a misdemeanor, which is considered a minor offense and typically involves a fine or relatively short jail time.

Battery Against Public Officials
If you’re found guilty of assaulting certain public officials, you will most likely  face more severe penalties than those typically held for simple assault. A specific  California law lists these officials as police officers, firefighters, medical technicians (nurses, doctors, EMS technicians, etc.), lifeguards, traffic officers,  animal control officers, and search and rescue personnel.

Assaults against these persons are punishable by up to a year in county jail.

Aggravated assault involves the use of a weapon, and is viewed as a felony – which carries significantly more severe penalties, including imprisonment. You   can also face aggravated assault charges if you threaten someone considered to be in a protected class, including the elderly and children. Aggravated assaults are felonies.

  • Assault with a deadly weapon is just that – a form of assault or violence while using a weapon that is viewed as capable of resulting in serious injury or death. The term “capable of resulting in serious injury” is important because the charge is not dependant upon weapons like guns and knives; rather, it can include actual objects like a rock, golf club, tire iron, vehicle, etc. Regardless of the object or weapon that is used, this charge is treated as a felony.
  • Sexual assault charges can be the result of unwanted sexual actions. Such actions can include intercourse, touching or forcing someone else to perform a sexual act against their wishes. Sexual assault charges are viewed as felonies.

What is Civil Liability in assault cases?
In a nutshell, Civil Liability means that you – the perpetrator – can be held financially responsible for any injuries the victim may suffer. For example, if the victim experiences distress physically and/or emotionally, you could be sued and ordered to pay for damages, including medical bills, lost wages from missing work, and for pain and suffering.

What is the process in assault cases?
Misdemeanor Assault Cases
If the case is a misdemeanor, an incident report will be made with appropriate law enforcement officials, and the potential victim then makes the decision on whether or not to proceed with pressing charges of assault.

If you are then arrested, you’ll be given a ticket or citation that contains a schedule for your first court appearance. During that initial court appearance, you’ll find out what specific charges you’ll be facing.

After hearing the charges, you’ll then have the opportunity to enter a plea – which you may or may choose to do. Afterwards, the judge will set a date for a settlement discussion. Before that date, both the prosecution and defense attorneys will have typically discussed possible resolutions to the case.

If both sides have not been able to reach a satisfactory decision, the case will then go to trial.

From beginning to end, most misdemeanor cases will typically take between 1-6 months to complete. 

Felony Assault Cases
Assault cases are known as “wobblers,” which are usually seen as lesser felonies resulting in either fines, jail time – or a combination of the two. However, since California has a “3 Strikes Law,” the penalties can quickly become much more severe.

After being charged, a date for an Arraignment – or initial court appearance – will be scheduled. During the Arraignment, you’ll be advised of your Constitutional rights, hear the specific charges facing you and have the opportunity to enter a plea. If the judge decides to establish a bail amount, it will be during this time.

Bail is typically based upon a number of factors, including the seriousness of the accusations against you, any criminal history in your past and whether or not the judge feels you’ll leave town.

During the pre-trial process, your lawyer and the prosecutor will examine the evidence in the case, and discuss certain legal issues that could apply to your situation. The lawyers will also discuss possible plea deals in exchange for lesser penalties.

During the trial itself, it’s up to the prosecutor to prove your guilt beyond doubt. If you’re found guilty, the judge will set a date for sentencing.

Following your sentencing, however, you will the opportunity to appeal the decision. Among the more successful appeal strategies are presentations that the evidence wasn’t sufficient for a conviction or mistakes were made during any point of the process.

What are effective defenses for charges of assault?
Being charged with assault is definitely serious business, and it’s something that can affect you for the rest of your life. The chances for a successful defense are increased greatly when you leverage the skills and expertise of a criminal defense lawyer, like the ones at Sharp Criminal Lawyers in Riverside.

A capable lawyer will be able to map out an effective defense strategy that will position you for the best possible outcome.

Some of the more successful defense strategies in assault cases include:

  • self defense (there are statutes in place stating, in essence, that you cannot be guilty of a crime that was acted upon for the purpose of defending yourself);
  • you were acting in defense of another person;
  • the action you took was in response to defend property (both real and personal);
  • you were wrongly accused;
  • you didn’t have the ability to use force or hurt the plaintiff; and
  • the plaintiff actually agreed or consented to the contact.

What should I say if I have to testify?

Speaking before a court, judge or other law officer can be intimidating. If you’re called to testify, remember to:

  • take brief pauses before answering (don’t be shy about asking for a short break);
  • take stock of your emotions (if you feel yourself becoming angry, take a brief moment to calm yourself and gather your thoughts);
  • say nothing more than simple answers to the questions asked of you;
  • always tell the truth (even if you feel that you said something that could be misunderstood, take the time to explain it to the judge).

If you’ve been charged with assault in Riverside or the Los Angeles area, call Sharp Criminal Lawyers.

Your chances for a successful defense against assault charges increase tremendously the earlier you get in touch with us at Sharp Criminal Lawyers.

For a Free consultation, and Free legal info by phone, call us at 951-777-1111 or you can reach us via email.

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