If you’ve ever been in a heated situation, you probably know how quickly tension can evolve into arguing, yelling, or even becoming violent. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a situation like this after someone cut in front of you in line or after you had a disagreement with a friend about when they’re going to pay back the money you lent them. Regardless of what caused the dispute, things can easily get out of hand.
It’s natural for emotions to run high in tense situations, but assault is a serious charge, and if you find yourself facing assault charges even though you didn’t hurt anyone, you might be wondering how that could be possible. You never put your hands on anyone, so how could you be accused of assault?
How Does California Define Assault?
According to the State of California, assault is an intentional attempt to 1) physically injure another person or 2) commit a threatening or menacing act or statement that causes the other person to believe they are going to be attacked. For example, if two people are arguing and one person takes a swing at the other and misses, that would be considered assault in California.
In other words, assault does not involve actual physical contact. If physical contact is involved, the defendant may face an additional charge of battery—the intentional and unlawful use of force or violence against another person.
Conversely, if one person in an argument decides to make threats that involve the use of a weapon, that person could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Assault with a deadly weapon does not require the use of a weapon, however. So long as there was intent to create great bodily injury to another, they may face a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.
What Is the Punishment for Assault in California?
A charge of simple assault—which does not involve the use of a deadly weapon—is considered to be a misdemeanor in California and is punishable by:
- Up to six months in county jail
- A fine of $1,000
- Restitution to the victim(s)
On the other hand, charges of assault with a deadly weapon are “wobbler crimes” in California. This means that the prosecution can use its discretion on whether to charge it as a felony or a misdemeanor. Sentencing for assault with a deadly weapon varies, but could include:
- Up to four years in state prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Restitution to the victim(s)
- Confiscation of the weapon
- Community service
- Anger management courses
Charges vary depending on the type of weapon used, whether any injuries resulted, and whether the victim was a healthcare provider or member of law enforcement performing their duties.
How Can a Lawyer Work to Drop an Assault Charge?
If you’ve been accused of assault, it’s important to meet with a lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to build your case on:
- False accusation
- Lack of intent
- Insufficient evidence
- No probable cause to arrest
- Inability to commit a violent injury
Looking for a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Diego?
If you’re facing assault charges in California, your conviction could come with severe consequences. A misdemeanor or felony conviction becomes part of your permanent criminal record and can affect your ability to find a job, vote, or rent an apartment.
At Dod Law, our two favorite words are “not guilty.” With over 17 years of experience, Attorney Dod will ensure that you’re always being fairly represented in court. Give us a call at (619) 814-5110 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation today.