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California Assault Lawyer – Penal Code 240 PC

How My Rights Law Can Help With Your PC 240 Simple Assault Charges

The consequences of an assault crime can be serious and follow you for the rest of your life. How you handle assault charges initially is important. An experienced violent crimes attorney will defend and protect your rights. My Rights Law have a track record of success. Call (888) 702-8882 or reach out through our secure web form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Generally, people use the phrase assault and battery together; however, assault and battery are two distinct crimes. Assault is an intentional act by a person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.[1] California law defines assault as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” In contrast, battery is the actual contact with a person. California law defines battery as a willful act and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person.[2] Simply put, assault is the act of swinging that puts someone in fear of being struck, and battery is the contact to the person’s body.

What Is Assault Under California Penal Code 240?

The legal definition of assault as defined in California Penal Code PC 240 is:

“An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”

In California, to be guilty of assault under PC 240, a defendant must:

  • An act that would result in applying force to a person;[3]
  • Doing the act willfully;
  • Be aware of facts that should make the defendant realize the act would result in applying force;
  • Have the ability to use such force; and
  • Possess no legal excuses

As a result, if the prosecution cannot prove the above beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be found not guilty of assault.

Simple Assault

According to California law, simple assault is a misdemeanor.[4] This less serious crime may result in up to six months in county jail or a fine of up to $1,000, or both jail time and a fine.[5] Examples of simple assault include, but are not limited to:

  • Throwing a drink at someone at a bar,
  • Pushing someone while in an argument, and
  • Threatening to hurt someone during an argument.

Felony Assault

Assault will become a felony under certain circumstances that make it more severe than simple assault. These circumstances include:

  • Inflicting Serious Injury
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon
  • Assault on a Police Officer or Emergency Personnel
  • Assault on a Public Official
  • Assault with Caustic Chemicals
  • Throwing Objects at a Motor Vehicle

Inflicting Serious Injury

Simple assault is a misdemeanor because no real harm occurs to the intended victim. However, suppose the victim suffers an injury as a direct result of the assault. In that case, the crime is generally raised to assault and battery.

Assault With A Deadly Weapon

California law classifies assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. The possible sentences for assault with a deadly weapon include up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and prison time coupled with a fine. Some examples of assault with a deadly weapon include:

  • Attempting to stab someone,
  • Throwing a knife at someone during a fight,
  • Instructing your dog to attack a person viciously.

Assault On Public Personnel

Assault on a police officer, firefighter, paramedic, or other emergency personnel will be a felony charge. Moreover, suppose an assault occurs on a public official. In that case, it may either be a misdemeanor or a felony and will depend on how the prosecutor chooses to file that charge.

Assault With Caustic Chemicals

Assault with chemicals is an assault that happens when a substance used in an assault can burn, disfigure, or harm someone. For example, a string of hate crimes occurred in which people were throwing acid at people in the streets. Even if the throwing of the acid did not hurt the person, the defendant could be convicted of felony assault. If you are convicted of throwing caustic chemicals, the punishment is up to four years in prison.

Throwing Objects At A Motor Vehicle

Generally, suppose you are arrested for throwing an object or substance onto a car. In that case, you are charged with simple assault (i.e., a misdemeanor). However, suppose the thing you threw could have caused severe harm or injury to another person. In that case, the offense raises to felony assault. For example, suppose you throw a brick off a bridge at a car driving below. It will likely be considered felony assault even if the object did not hit the vehicle.

Statute Of Limitations Of PC 240

The statute of limitations for assault depends on if it is considered simple assault or felony assault. For simple assault, the statute of limitations is one year. However, if it is considered felony assault, the statute of limitations is three years.

A statute of limitations provides the maximum amount of time a charge may be brought after a crime has been committed. For example, if a felony assault was committed in 2010 and the charge was not brought until 2015, the statute of limitations has run, and the charge can no longer be brought, so the charges will be dropped.

What Are The Defenses To Assault PC 240?

There are several defenses against the assault. First, if you could not inflict force or violence, you cannot be charged with assault. In California, one of the elements of assault is the ability to inflict force on the victim. Therefore, if you cannot impose such power, the prosecution cannot prove that you committed the crime.

Second, most people have heard of this common defense: self-defense or defense of others. This defense is valid if all of the following occurred:

  • You reasonably believed that you or someone else was in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm.
  • You reasonably thought that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against the danger, and
  • You used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against the imminent danger.

Suppose someone pointed an unloaded gun at you. You thought the gun was loaded, which was a reasonable belief. If you assaulted them in self-defense or in defense of someone else, you likely have a solid defense.

Third, you did not act willfully. An element of assault is that you willfully acted. If you accidentally assaulted someone, you cannot be held liable for the crime. For example, if you are moving fast and accidentally almost hit someone in the face with your hand, you likely have not assaulted anyone.

My Rights Law California Assault Lawyer

Assault and battery should not be confused with one another. If you have questions, an assault and battery lawyer can help you distinguish the differences between the two crimes. California assault requires the victim to reasonably believe or be aware that they are in danger of imminent harm. In an assault and battery case, someone makes an attempt and an act of harmful contact with another person. If you have further questions, contact us for a free consultation today.

Assault may result in criminal charges. In terms of the charge of assault and battery, the penalties depend on whether you are being charged with simple assault or battery, or if you are being charged with aggravated assault or aggravated battery. Either way, you need an experienced assault lawyer because the penalties for criminal assault are largely determined by the type of harm that was inflicted on the victim.

If you cause a victim serious injury, or if it is determined that you had an intent to kill a victim, the consequences could be drastic. The judge in these type of criminal cases could order a harsher penalty as part of the sentence in criminal court. A judge may also impose a harsher penalty if other factors are present, such as assaulting police officers.

Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney In California

Suppose you or a loved one has been charged with assault. In that case, you must hire an experienced criminal defense attorney for representation. My Rights Law can defend you against assault charges. They know the law, process, and prosecution tactics that will help ensure that your rights are preserved and protected. The attorneys at My Rights Law have a long track record of success. Call (888) 702-8882 or reach out with our secure online form today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

[1] Penal Code 240 PC.
[2] Penal Code 242 PC.
[3] CALCRIM 915 – Simple Assault (Pen. Code, § 240).
[4] Penal Code 241 PC.
[5] Penal Code 241 PC.

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