According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 267,000 felony arrests were made in California in 2021. Violent offenses consisted of 35.1% of those arrests, followed by 21.8% for property crimes. There were also a significant number of weapons and drug-related charges. When found guilty of a felony, the individuals involved risk serving long jail terms. Understanding what turns an assault into a felony is important in order for protection against life-changing consequences that may occur.
Being charged with a felony assault is a stressful situation, as the future may be unclear. However, by partnering with a skilled defense attorney from Dod Law, you can be sure that your rights will be protected every step of the way.
What Is a Felony in California?
In California, a felony encompasses crimes with the potential for a sentence exceeding one year of imprisonment. Felonies are generally reserved for more serious crimes, such as armed robbery or aggravated assault causing dreadful bodily harm. Misdemeanor offenses, such as simple assault, typically carry lighter penalties that usually involve less than a year in jail.
Someone arrested for armed robbery, which is a felony offense, could face several years in state prison if convicted. In contrast, someone arrested for a petty theft misdemeanor might face a shorter jail term or probation.
What Is Assault?
Assault involves an unlawful attempt to cause a violent injury to another person. This definition hinges on deliberate actions reflecting an intent to harm and an awareness of the possible outcomes.
The idea of “application of force” revolves around various forms of offensive contact, regardless of severity. Even minor touches will count if done disrespectfully. Most importantly, causing actual injury isn’t a prerequisite – the focus is on the intention and actions that could lead to applying force. An example is when a heated argument arises at a party and one person takes a swing that misses. Trying to hurt someone physically constitutes assault. Similarly, if one individual tries to defuse the situation while the other throws an object, both could face assault charges.
When Does Assault Become a Felony in California?
When determining whether an assault constitutes a felony or a misdemeanor in California, there are several factors at play. The three key aspects that can elevate the charge to a felony include:
- The nature of the weapon used
- The severity of the injury inflicted
- Criminal history of the assailant
While altercations involving physical force do occur, using a weapon can swiftly escalate the seriousness of the offense. California law distinguishes between assaults that involve fists or other rudimentary objects and those where a deadly weapon is utilized. This differentiation recognizes that the resulting harm posed by a gun is inherently more significant, leading to a more severe charge in case such a weapon is involved.
The extent of the injury inflicted upon the victim serves as another crucial criterion in determining the severity of the charge. If the assault culminates in a grave injury that necessitates hospitalization, a felony charge may apply. Other similar situations include the victim sustaining injuries that significantly alter their quality of life. This could be losing a limb or requiring substantial medical treatment.
Contact an Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer at Dod Law, Today
When facing assault charges with the likelihood of a felony, the expertise of seasoned legal professionals becomes an invaluable asset. At Dod Law we understand the potential life-altering repercussions of a felony charge. For this reason, we are firmly committed to defending you.
Beyond our legal skills, we offer compassionate guidance during what can be an emotionally taxing period, supporting you every step of the way. Don’t face the challenges of an impending felony charge alone. Connect with our legal team that has over 19 years of experience by calling us at our San Diego office (619) 814-5110 | Vista office 760-814-6025 or filling out our contact form.