Ventura, California Assault Lawyer
Being charged with a felony in California can impact every aspect of your life. Going through the criminal justice system can be extremely difficult and overwhelming, especially for those who have never been in trouble with the law. At the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth, we understand how difficult facing criminal charges can be. That is why we dedicate our law practice to aggressively defending and upholding your rights in the criminal justice system. To learn more about how we can further assist you, call our law offices today at (805) 585-5056.
Types of “Violent Crimes” Under California Law
A “violent crime” consists of any criminal action that involves the act of harming of another person through the use of physical force. These actions are particularly troubling as they can lead judges and juries to believe that the accused is prone to reckless behavior and a danger to society.
Violent crimes typically face harsh penalties and are usually charged as felonies. Common violent crimes in California include:
- Domestic Violence
- Vehicular Manslaughter
Penalties for such crimes can involve a sentence of many years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines, among other consequences of having a violent felony criminal record. Additionally, California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law creates extended prison sentences for defendants convicted of prior felonies.
Were You Arrested for Assault in Ventura, California?
The crime of assault or “simple assault” can be found under California Penal Code 240. Under this statute, assault is defined as the attempt to inflict physical harm upon another person. To prove you committed the crime of assault, the prosecutor must show the defendant had the intention to inflict harm upon another person. Additionally, they will need to demonstrate you had the present ability to commit the crime.
For example, if a defendant picked up a rock and threw it at a victim during an argument, they committed the crime of assault. In this example, both the intention and the present ability to commit the assault are present.
Alternatively, if the defendant stood across the room and threatened to knock the victim out if he ever sees him again, there was no assault. Both elements of assault are missing, since there is no present intention to cause harm, and the threat is of future harm, not present harm. If one or more elements of the crime are missing, you should not be found guilty of committing assault.
California divides crimes into three main categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Simple assault falls into the misdemeanor category. Misdemeanors commonly have a maximum of one year in jail. In most situations, assault is punished by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. However, the penalties can be increased depending on who the victim is or where the assault took place. In some cases, the fine is increased to $2,000, while in others, the jail time can be increased to a maximum of one year.
Were You Charged with Aggravated Assault?
Some circumstances and factors may aggravate the crime of assault. Aggravating circumstances include the use of a deadly weapon, assault on a public official, assault on a person belonging to a protected class, and other aggravating circumstances. Usually, the punishment for this type of crime is more severe when compared to simple assault. According to Penal Code 245(a)(1), any person who commits assault against another individual using a deadly weapon can be punished a fine up to $10,000. In addition, the defendant could face up to one year in county jail or 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison.
According to Penal Code 217.1(a), assaulting a public official is also considered aggravated assault. Public officials include judges, mayors, public defenders, and other public functionaries.
Assault can be classified as a “wobbler” offense. A wobbler offense is one that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. If found guilty of a misdemeanor, you can face up to a year in jail. However, if found guilty of a felony, you could face multiple years in prison. This explains the potential differences in sentencing options for the same crime.
Penalties for Assault Charges in California
Assault is charged under Cal. Penal Code § 240. This statute supplies the legal definition of assault in California. Under Cal. Penal Code § 240, “An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” The prosecutor must prove each individual component of this definition, beyond a reasonable doubt, or the defendant cannot be convicted of assault under Cal. Penal Code § 240. Possible defenses against an assault accusation include acting in self-defense, lack of intent, and being mistaken for another person, which frequently occurs in crowded settings or settings with dim lighting.
The penalties for assault can be severe if the defendant is convicted. Assault is generally a misdemeanor crime which can result in a sentence of up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. However, assault charges become more serious if the alleged victim is a police officer, firefighter, EMT, or works in a similar occupation.
Can I Contest My Assault Charges in California?
There are ways you can defend yourself against an assault accusation. For instance, you can argue that at the time of the alleged crime, you did not have the intention of inflicting harm upon the plaintiff. Remember that the prosecution has the burden of demonstrating all elements of the alleged crime were present. Another argument that can be brought to the court is lack of evidence against you. For instance, it can be argued there is a lack of witnesses that can testify against you, which can lead to the dismissal of your case if no one saw the crime occur.
Another defense available in assault cases is to claim a violation of your constitutional rights. When police seize evidence or get confessions illegally, the evidence or confession cannot be used against the defendant. For instance, if you were not read your Miranda rights when you were questioned about the assault, you could argue that the confession was obtained illegally and should be thrown out as evidence.
Remember that every situation is different, and the opportunity to use certain arguments will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding each case. Our skilled lawyers can help you decide the best defense strategy for your case.
Ventura Assault Defense Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was arrested and is facing assault or aggravated assault charges, there is no time to waste. Our Ventura assault defense lawyers from the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth are ready to help you through this tough time. With decades of experience handling criminal cases in California, our lawyers can approach every case with empathy, commitment, and undivided focus. To learn more about your situation in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (805) 585-5056.