One of the most common charges a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney practicing in California comes across is a charge of assault. As a criminal defense attorney working in the Los Angeles area I have seen numerous types of criminal assault cases before the California Superior Court. These criminal cases involving assault range from simple assault misdemeanors to very serious felony crimes that carry serious prison time.
In this blog I will explain some basic concepts of assault as defined by the California Penal Code. Understand that every case is unique and if you or a loved one has criminal charges in the California Superior court you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Only a criminal defense attorney with knowledge of the facts of your case can properly advise you. FOR A FREE NO OBLIGATION CONSULTATION AND CASE REVIEW CALL US AT 818 325-0570
A person may be convicted of the crime of assault if the criminal prosecutors show that the person made an unlawful attempt coupled and had the present ability to commit a violent injury to another person. In other words if a person tries to injure another person whether it be by hand or with the use of a weapon, that person is guilty of the crime of assault. The most common example of this is when a person tries to punch another person.
There are also varying degrees of the crime of assault and also varying punishments for assault ranging from very light to extremely harsh. That is why when you or a loved one are charged with crime of assault, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights and your freedom.
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON OR ASSAULT LIKELY TO CAUSE GREAT BODILY INJURY)
It is a much more serious crime and the penalties increase tremendously if the assault is committed with the use a deadly weapon or by means likely to produce great bodily injury, when the crime is committed against certain people (such as a police officer or a paramedic) or when the crime is committed with the intent to commit certain violent felonies crimes, as listed in the California Penal Code.
In order to be convicted of the crime of assault, the criminal prosecutor must also prove that the person charged with the crime has the present ability to inflict an injury on another person. This means that that the person charged with the crime of assault had the ability to inflict injury on the present occasion, even if the person charged was several steps away from actually inflicting injury the actual injury.
For example pointing an unloaded gun or a toy gun at another person is not considered a criminal assault because you cannot shoot someone with an unloaded or toy gun. If however the gun is used to bludgeon or hit another person then it may qualify as the felony crime assault with a deadly weapon.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A DEADLY WEAPON
The California Penal Code has defined a deadly weapon as an object that when used against another person is likely to produce death or great bodily injury. Objects such as guns or knives are obviously dangerous weapons but other things that are inherently innocent such as broomsticks or other household objects may be classified as a dangerous weapon if they are used in some fashion to attempt to injure a person.
In a criminal prosecution for the assault with a deadly weapon the criminal prosecutor may introduce any material evidence concerning the facts and circumstances that led to the alleged criminal assault.
For example, the following may be used by a criminal prosecutor to prove that a deadly weapon was used in the crime of assault with a deadly weapon:
- Evidence that a knife was found in the possession of the person accused of the crime of assault with a deadly weapon;
- Testimony that a weapon was fired or that a gun used in a threatening manner against another person;
- Evidence from a police officer that inspected the gun that it was loaded;
- Evidence that a harmless object, such as broom or a pillow, was used in such a manner that death or great bodily injury could occur from its use;
- Evidence that the victim heard a concealed gun being cocked by the person accused of the crime of assault with a deadly weapon;
- Evidence that the person being accused of the crime of assault with a deadly weapon held a sharp pencil at the victim's neck;
- Evidence that the person being accused of the crime of assault with a deadly weapon intentionally pushed the victim into the path of an oncoming vehicle;
PUNISHMENT FOR ASSAULT
The punishments listed below are the ones prescribed by the California Penal Code. These sentences ranges may be modified and often times an experienced criminal defense attorney can get a person charged with the crime of assault a much more lenient sentence.
The punishment for the crime of assault is imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both.
The punishment for an assault with the intent to commit certain felonies generally is two, four, or six years in state prison. An enhancement of one, two, or five years may be imposed if the person charged with the crime of assault was armed with a firearm or deadly weapon; if the defendant used the firearm or deadly weapon, the enhancement is three, four, or ten years.
The punishment for the crime of assault with a deadly weapon or instrument when that deadly weapon is not a firearm is imprisonment in state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail not to exceed one year and a fine.
The punishment for the crime of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury is imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail not to exceed one year a fine.
The punishment for an assault with a firearm is imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in the county jail for between six months and one year and a fine. There are also higher sentencing ranges depending on the type of firearm that was used.
In addition the crime of assault may have several different sentencing enhancements that may increase the punishment tremendously.
Despite these extremely harsh sentences, our office has had great success defending people accused of the crime of assault and aggravated assault. We have been able to obtain probation and reduced sentences for our clients as well as achieve not guilty verdicts in front of a jury. FOR A FREE NO OBLIGATION CONSULTATION AND CASE REVIEW CALL US AT 818 325-0570
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