San Diego Assault and Battery Lawyer
Nothing is as scary as facing assault charges. The California Penal Code 240 defines assault as an attempt to injure another person violently or forcefully. Many people presume that assault and battery to be the same thing. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Although assault or battery often occur in a single incident, they are two distinct and separate crimes.
In California, assault charges usually get filed when someone tries to injure another person violently. An assault attempt can cause fear of imminent violence in the victim even if violence isn’t inflicted. A reasonable threat to another individual is regarded as assault, but physical contact isn’t always necessary for the perpetrator to get convicted.
For you to get convicted of a San Diego assault charge, the prosecution must prove that:
- You committed an act involving the use of force against another individual
- The act was committed willfully
- You knew that any reasonable person would believe the act you committed involved the use of force on another person
- You could act violently and forcefully towards another person
Types of Assault in San Diego
The California Penal Code outlines different types of assault according to how they were committed and the intention. The categories of assault are:
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon
As the name suggests, this happens when a lethal weapon other than a firearm is used to assault the victim. Weapons used in this type of assault include brass knuckles, baseball bats, and knives.
- Assault with a Firearm
This happens when a gun or rifle is used to assault the victim. Assault with a firearm is considered a serious offense and usually carries serious punishment.
- Domestic Violence
Physically injuring a spouse, domestic partner, family member, or an individual with whom you’ve been in a dating relationship is regarded as domestic violence. Like assault with a firearm, domestic violence is considered a serious offense.
- Sexual Assault
Any sexual contact between individuals where one party hasn’t consented is regarded as sexual assault and carries severe penalties.
- Aggravated Assault
Under California law, there’s no specific crime known as “aggravated assault.” Nonetheless, the term refers to any form of assault more serious than simple assault. Aggravated assault crimes include assault with a deadly weapon, assault by means that may cause great bodily harm, assault by caustic chemicals, and assault with a firearm.
- Other Assault-Related Crimes
Other common crimes related to force or violence include mayhem, which involves disfiguring another person, and torture, which is an extreme physical attack on someone else.
Under California law, simple assault differs from assault. For instance, if you take a swing at someone within striking distance during an argument but miss, that’s considered simple assault. Although words alone don’t amount to assault, threatening to harm someone with an object is regarded as assault if it’s accompanied by actions that prove intent to proceed with the threat.
Typically, the identity of an assault victim plays a significant role in determining the seriousness of the offense and the potential punishment. In this regard, assault against healthcare professionals providing treatment outside a hospital or assault against public workers performing their duties carries more serious punishment than simple assault. The punishment will be even more severe if the perpetrator knows the victim was a public officer or healthcare provider performing their duties.
Penalties for Assault in San Diego
Punishments for assault depend on the severity of the offense and the injuries suffered by the victim. They can either be felonies (the most severe charges) or misdemeanors (less serious charges). According to Cal. Penal Code § 243, the penalties for simple assault charged as a misdemeanor include:
- A fine of up to $2,000
- A maximum jail term of six months in a county jail
- Six months’ probation
The enhanced penalty for more severe assault offenses such as assault against public workers and domestic violence assault includes:
- One-year imprisonment in a county jail
- One-year probation
- A fine of up to $2,000
Besides simple and aggravated assault, you can also get charged for wobbler assault. Offenses that can be charged as wobbler assault include:
- Assault against law enforcement officers performing their duties.
- Assault against jurors or alternate jurors by a party involved in the case.
- Assault against school employees while they perform their duties or in retaliation for actions they took while performing their duties.
Wobbler assaults can get charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the severity of the offense and injuries suffered.
Civil Vs. Criminal Charges in Assault Cases
Some assault cases tried as felonies are considered criminal. For instance, assault by a deadly weapon or sexual molestation may lead to permanent psychological and physical trauma. In this case, the offender is likely to get convicted of a crime.
If you’re tried before a civil court, your assault charges will be considered intentional torts. For this reason, the plaintiff must prove that you deliberately sought to cause them physical harm. If charged in a criminal court, proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard. Civil courts only require a “preponderance of evidence” to find defendants guilty. The bar is lower in civil courts.
Whether you get charged in a civil or criminal court, assault cases are never simple or clear-cut. The plaintiff and their legal team will do everything possible to prove intent. If found guilty, you’ll not only get penalized or fined, but the victim can also recover damages for pain and suffering and other losses. Many people get convicted for trumped-up assault charges.
For this reason, it’s best to have an experienced battery and assault lawyer in your corner. Having the right representation can make all the difference and ensure you get a fair trial. A good battery lawyer will gather evidence relevant to support your case and provide legal advice regarding what to do when facing assault charges.
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What to Do If You’re Accused of Assault
You should speak to a San Diego assault and battery lawyer as soon as you know you’re facing assault charges. With an attorney by your side, it will be easier to fight for your rights and freedom. You shouldn’t even speak to the police without a lawyer. Anything you say could be twisted and used against you. Remember police aren’t your friends since their work is to solve crimes. Sometimes, that means innocent people end up getting prosecuted.
A skillful and experienced San Diego assault and battery lawyer from the Superior Law Center law firm can help you secure your freedom. With over 50 years of combined experience handling assault cases, these attorneys will handle your case effectively even when you feel hopeless. They have the experience needed to win your case because they’ve even argued and won cases at the California Supreme Court.