Types of Assault Charges

Last Modified: June 14, 2024
Types of assault charges

Assault crime charges can vary widely and are taken very seriously in Los Angeles. The law defines multiple types of assault, each with its own criteria and severe penalties.

Understanding the various assault charges can help you know what to expect if you or someone you know is facing such accusations. Perlman & Cohen Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers are well-versed in defending clients against these felony charges.

The consequences of being convicted of an assault charge can be severe and life-altering. It is crucial to have knowledgeable legal representation to navigate the complexities of assault charges.

We will explain the different types of aggravated assault that occur, the legal processes involved, possible defense strategies, and how expungement might be an option after a conviction.

Our experienced attorney aims to provide clear, concise information to help you understand these serious legal matters.

Definition of Assault

Assault in California is an attempt to injure another person violently. This includes not only completed acts of violence but also any credible attempts or threats to use force against someone when you can carry out the threat.

Importantly, no physical contact or physical injury must occur for an act to be labeled assault. The goal of harm or fear of harm is sufficient. Legal definitions can vary, but the essence of assault remains an attempt or threat to inflict injury on another.

In legal terms, if you try or threaten to strike someone in a threatening manner, and you have the apparent ability to carry out the attack, it counts as assault. This broad definition aims to protect individuals from the serious consequences of physical harm and the fear of imminent harm.

Differences Between Assault and Battery

Many people confuse assault with battery, but they are distinct charges under the law. Assault is the attempt or threat to inflict injury, while battery is the actual physical contact or force used against another person. You can be charged with assault without ever touching the victim.

Battery requires actual physical contact. It occurs when you intentionally strike or physically attack another person. This contact does not need to cause injury; unwanted or offensive touching is sufficient to constitute a battery.

Knowing the difference between these criminal charges is critical for anyone facing these accusations or those studying criminal law.

Common Types of Assault Charges

Common types of assault charges

There are several specific types of assault charges in California, each with its own set of legal standards and potential penalties.

Simple Assault

Simple assault is the basic form of assault under California law. It involves an attempt to cause violent injury to or recklessly cause physical harm to another person without the use of weapons or the intent to cause major bodily harm. This charge can apply even if no physical contact was made as long as there was an attempt or threat.

California Penal Code Section 240 defines simple assault, and the penalties can include fines of up to $1,000 and/or jail time of up to six months in county jail. This is generally considered a misdemeanor unless specific circumstances make the charge a felony. The exact penalty can vary, depending on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault involves a higher level of gravity, including assaults that cause serious bodily injury or more aggravated assaults involving the use of a weapon. California Penal Code Section 245 outlines aggravated assault and stipulates stricter penalties due to the greater potential harm to the victim.

Penalties for aggravated assault can include substantial fines (of up to $10,000) and longer prison sentences (of up to four years), especially if a weapon was used or grave injury occurred.

The law recognizes the increased danger in these cases and imposes harsher consequences to deter such severe offenses.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Assault with a deadly weapon is a form of aggravated assault. It is a physical assault that involves using a weapon or other means capable of causing significant injury or death.

Under California Penal Code Section 245, this charge can apply to assaults involving firearms, knives, or any deadly weapons or objects used in a way that could cause dire harm.

The penalties for assault with a deadly weapon can be severe, including long prison terms and high fines, especially if a serious assault occurs and results in drastic injuries or if a firearm is involved. The law takes a stringent approach to these cases to reflect the high risk posed to public safety.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence refers to assaults that occur within domestic settings, such as between spouses or domestic partners. This type of assault can encompass physical harm, threats, or psychological abuse.

California laws specifically address domestic violence under several statutes, providing definitions and detailing the penalties. Many forms of domestic violence are charged under Penal Code 243(e)(1).

Penalties for domestic violence under Penal Code 243(e)(1) may include a fine of up to $2,000 and a six-month term in the county jail. Other penalties could include mandatory counseling.

The severity of the penalties will hinge on the circumstances of the first assault offense, previous offenses, and the presence of any protective orders at the time of the incident.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is an act of assault that includes any form of non-consensual sexual contact or behavior. California Penal Code Section 243.4 addresses sexual assault and provides specific definitions and penalties. This crime is taken seriously due to its profound impact on victims.

The penalties for aggravated sexual assault can be severe. This is a wobbler criminal offense, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

The penalties for a felony could include a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine of up to $10,000. This is in addition to mandatory registration as a sex offender. The law aims to protect victims considerably and deter potential offenders through strict legal consequences.

The Legal Process for Assault Charges

  1. Police Report. The legal process usually starts when someone reports an assault to the police. The police will investigate the claim and collect evidence.
  2. Arrest. If there is enough evidence, the police may arrest the person accused of assault.
  3. Charges Filed. The prosecutor reviews the evidence and decides whether to file assault charges based on the strength of the evidence.
  4. Arraignment. The defendant appears in court, hears the charges, and pleads guilty or not guilty.
  5. Bail Hearing. If applicable, the court will consider bail, allowing the defendant to remain free until trial under certain conditions.
  6. Trial. Both sides present evidence and argue their cases before a judge or jury. The prosecutor must prove the defendant committed the assault beyond a reasonable doubt.
  7. Sentencing. If convicted, the defendant is sentenced. The penalties vary based on the type of assault and other factors.

Defense Strategies for Assault Charges

Defense strategies for assault charges

Defending against assault charges can involve several potential strategies, depending on the case's specifics.

Self-Defense and Defense of Others

One common defense is claiming self-defense or defense of others. This is a strong defense strategy tailored to argue that the accused was not the aggressor and only used force to protect themselves or someone else from harm.

It requires proving that the threat of harm was real and imminent and that the force used was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances.

Lack of Intent

Another defense focuses on the lack of intent to cause harm. Assault charges often depend on the accused's intent to threaten or cause harm. Showing no intent to hurt someone can be a valid defense, especially in cases of verbal assault where the actions were misconstrued or accidental.

False Accusations

False accusations are not unusual in assault cases. Defense strategies may involve proving that the accuser is not telling the truth or has a motive to lie. This requires carefully examining the evidence and possibly presenting witnesses corroborating the defendant's events.

Insufficient Evidence

Finally, a defense might argue that the evidence presented by the prosecution is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the assault. This can involve challenging the credibility of evidence or witnesses and presenting counter-evidence that supports the defendant's innocence.

Expungement and Record Sealing for Assault Convictions

Expungement can clear an assault conviction from your public criminal record. Under California law, expungement is available for those who have completed their probation and meet other specific criteria. This process can help lessen the long-term consequences of a conviction.

If eligible, the court may agree to expunge your record, meaning the assault conviction would not appear in most background checks. This can greatly improve your ability to secure employment, housing, and other opportunities.

It is important to consult a lawyer to know if you qualify for expungement or record sealing.

How Perlman & Cohen Can Help You With Your Assault Defense

Perlman & Cohen Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers specialize in defending against all assault charges. We understand the nuances of criminal defense and work tirelessly to make legal defenses to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients. Our law office will review your case, gather evidence, and craft a robust defense strategy tailored to your situation.

We are committed to protecting your rights and will work through the legal system on your behalf. Whether you are facing vehicular assault or sexual assault charges, we have the expertise and experience to provide a strong defense.

We even handle cases involving bodily injury of a police officer and aggravated assault charges. Our experienced criminal defense attorney is here to help you if you have been accused of serious bodily harm.  

Connect With Our Los Angeles Assault Attorney for a Free Consultation

Connect with our Los Angeles assault attorney for a free consultation

Facing assault charges can be overwhelming and stressful. It is crucial to have an experienced lawyer during the process who can defend your rights. Perlman & Cohen Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers is here to help you.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss either misdemeanor assault or felony assault charges.

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