In the state of California, when an individual attempts to, threatens to, or acts as if they will injure another, they are committing assault. These elements of assault are critical to understanding how one may be guilty of assault without having made physical contact with the alleged victim. Instances of assault that involve a deadly weapon or force that would cause severe bodily harm are more severe and are typically charged as felonies.
According to the California Penal Code § 240 and § 242, those who commit simple assault in the state commit a misdemeanor offense unless certain circumstances allow the prosecutor to increase the severity of the charge to a felony. The court could still potentially reduce a felony-level assault to a misdemeanor, but this is unlikely if the situation involves firearms or actual physical contact that causes harm. Also, the identity of the victim plays a significant role in determining the severity of the charge and potential consequences of a conviction.
Here are the different types of assault charges one may face in California:
Types of Assault Charges in California
When an assailant takes aggressive physical action toward another person—like swinging a punch, even if the attempt misses the target—it is an assault under California law. Those who make threats against another while holding a dangerous object are not necessarily guilty of assault unless they displayed actions of intent. Generally, words alone are not enough to qualify for a charge of this nature.
Those who commit an assault against public health workers providing emergency care outside a medical facility or against someone that falls under the category of a public worker who was in the middle of their duties may face harsher consequences and more substantial charges beyond simple assault.
Public employees that would fall under this category include:
● Doctors and their staff
● Animal control officials
● School employees
● Military members assaulted for their service
● Highway workers
● Public transportation workers
A wobbler assault is a simple assault that can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Assault scenarios that may fall under this category include:
● Assault of police officers working for a school district
● Assault of jurors committed by a party to a trial
● Assault of prison or jail corrections officers and others with similar positions in law enforcement
Whether you face a misdemeanor or felony charge depends on several factors, including the facts of the cases and whether you have an established criminal record.
Violent crimes in California are charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending upon numerous circumstances, meaning you must hire an experienced criminal defense attorney right after your arrest to receive the best results possible. Current state law often categorizes simple assault as a misdemeanor crime, but the punishment may still dramatically impact your life.
Penalties for misdemeanor simple assault charges may include:
● Fines of up to $1,000
● Jail time for up to 6 months
Penalties for misdemeanor charges that include aggravating circumstances, like assaulting a public worker may include:
● Fines up to $2,000
● Jail time for up to 1 year
In some cases, the court may choose to impose probation instead of jail time for all or part of the sentence. Regardless, this still requires strict adherence to the judge's orders. If you're sentenced to probation, you may need to meet with a probation officer regularly while complying with any additional court orders.
Many times, those convicted of simple assault may face additional consequences or requirements, such as:
● Anger management counseling
● Community service
● No further legal trouble while on probation
● House arrest, including wearing an ankle bracelet for tracking
● Payment of court fines, fees, and restitution to the victim(s)
Violating any terms or conditions of your probation may lead to a revocation of your probationary grant, which may be replaced with an extended term in county jail.
The value of good representation when facing an assault charge in Santa Barbara can never be understated. Risking a misdemeanor or felony conviction on your permanent record will haunt your chances for career success, affect education and housing assistance, and hurt your reputation.
Trust the Aron Law Firm to aggressively defend your rights and protect your future. Our decades of familiarity with the Santa Barbara criminal court system and Mr. Aron's previous tenure as a Deputy District Attorney will help you get the best outcome possible for your situation. Contact our office today at (805) 618-1768 or online to schedule a case evaluation right away. Our knowledgeable legal team is standing by to advise you on the next best steps to get through this difficult time in your life.