Were You Charged with California Crime Assault Under Penal Code 240?
An assault conviction in California can have disastrous consequences for your personal life and professional relationships. In addition to receiving a criminal record, which can make it substantially more difficult to find a job, you also risk being heavily fined and incarcerated for months or even years. When the repercussions of a conviction are so devastating, you need to make sure you have the benefit of robust, aggressive legal representation on your side. The California criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC have more than 22 years of combined experience handling simple assault charges in Ventura County and Santa Barbara County. If you or one of your family members was charged with assault, call our law offices immediately at (805) 585-5056 to arrange a free legal consultation.
Elements of Simple Assault and Battery Under California PC 240
Assault, or simple assault, is defined by Cal. Penal Code § 240, under which a person may be charged with this offense when he or she allegedly makes “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” California’s penal code distinguishes between many other charges which are similar to, but distinct from, simple assault as defined under Cal. Penal Code 240. Serving Santa Barbara County and Ventura County, our knowledgeable defense lawyers handle an array of offenses related to assault, including:
- Aggravated Assault (Aggravated Battery)
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- Battery (Assault and Battery)
- Sexual Battery
Despite being commonly paired, “assault and battery” are actually separate offenses. Battery is charged under Cal. Penal Code § 242 when a person engages in the “willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” The key difference is that assault need only involve an attempt to inflict injury, whereas battery involves actual use of violence. Simple assault is a misdemeanor in California. Criminal penalties generally include a fine of up to $1,000, and up to six months in jail. However, there are scenarios in which the consequences can be more severe, depending on the alleged circumstances of the crime. For example, under Cal. Penal Code § 241.2, which specifically deals with assault on school property or park property, the maximum fine increases to $2,000, while the maximum jail sentence increases to one year.
Legal Defenses Against Assault Charges
In order for a defendant to be found guilty of a crime, the prosecutor needs to prove every individual element of the charge. In the context of an assault charge, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant made “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” In other words, the prosecutor must prove each of the following points:
- You made an unlawful attempt to commit an action. The prosecutor must prove you intentionally tried to perform an action. Accidentally elbowing someone in the face in a crowded shopping mall, for example, does not meet this definition.
- You actually possessed the ability to injure the other person. It may be a defense that you were physically incapable of injuring the other individual — for instance, because there was too much physical distance between you and the other person for you to actually make contact.
- Your intent was to violently injure the other person. The prosecutor must prove that you deliberately acted with the goal of hurting the victim.
We will closely analyze the smallest details of your case to present a vigorous defense on your behalf. It may be possible to have your case dismissed, or have the charges against you dropped. Other legal defenses that may be applicable in a California assault case include:
- Acting in self-defense.
- Being the victim of false accusations.
- Protecting other people from harm.
Contact Our Santa Barbara and Ventura County Assault and Battery Lawyers
Assault can have far-reaching negative consequences for your family life and career, even if you have no prior convictions. An assault record can cause others to avoid or stigmatize you as a violent or dangerous person, even if that could not be farther from the truth, making it more difficult to get hired or take advantage of important opportunities in life. In addition to these burdensome long-term consequences, you will also face the prospect of six months or more of incarceration. You may also be placed on probation, during which you will have to comply with strict rules and invasive searches.
If you, your spouse, your child, or one of your family members was arrested for assault in Santa Barbara County or Ventura County, you need legal help immediately. Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 585-5056 to arrange a free, completely confidential legal consultation. We represent adults and juveniles, proudly serving the communities of Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Camarillo, Moorpark, Oak Park, Santa Maria, Goleta, Montecito, Orcutt, and more.