Los Angeles Assault Lawyer

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When most people think of assault they think of the kinds of fist fights and street fights which can land someone in the hospital. Or they think of an abusive spouse violently flinging a victim into a wall while throwing punch after punch.

You might not be so quick to think of the bar room scuffle that breaks out on a Saturday night, or the time you lost your temper. But even seemingly “minor” incidents like these can be classified as assault, which means you could end up facing lifelong consequences if you are caught and charged in the middle of any such incident.

What is assault?

Assault is covered by California Penal Code 240, which defines assault as: “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”

This does not cover an incident of self-defense, though you should understand “self-defense” is not as clear-cut a defense as movies and television shows would have you believe.

What are the penalties for assault?

Assault is a “wobbler” crime in the state of California, which means it may be charged either as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Facts which could impact whether it’s one or the other include:

  • The severity of the assault. A simple slap is likely to be a misdemeanor, whereas a severe beating which lands the victim in the hospital may be bumped up to a felony.
  • Whether you used a weapon, or something equally dangerous like caustic chemicals, a vehicle, or some other dangerous object or substance.
  • Who the assault was committed against and what they were doing at the time. For example, you can expect harsher penalties if:
    • The victim was any kind of police officer, including parking control officers.
    • The victim was any kind of emergency personnel, especially if they were n uniform and busy conducting their duties at the time. This could mean paramedics, nurses, doctors, search and rescue, firefighters, etc.
    • The victim was a process server who was again engaged in the act of conducting his or her duties when the assault occurred.

The penalty for a misdemeanor assault, if you are convicted, is six months in jail, an $1000 fine, or some combination of jail time and a fine. If you are convicted of a felony assault you could spend up to 4 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

A photo of street light in Los Angeles

You may also hear assault paired with the crime of “battery.” Battery is a separate, but closely linked crime. An assault is attempted violence. Battery is a successful violence. If the battery results in serious bodily injury to the victim it would be called “aggravated battery.”

Battery is also a “wobbler” crime and is charged much the same way as assault is: with one year in jail and/or a $1000 fine if charged as a misdemeanor, and up to 4 years in jail and/or a $2,000 to $10,000 fine if charged as a felony.

Prosecutors can choose to charge you with both an assault and a battery if you are successful in causing harm. They can also choose to stick to one charge. If convicted of both, you could end up in jail for up to 8 years.

If we are unable to get the charges dismissed and are unable to prove your innocence, we are often successful at convincing judges to use alternative sentencing instead. This could mean taking anger-management classes, performing community service, and/or voluntary house arrest, but gives you the chance to get on with your life.

When is it self-defense instead of assault?

In order for the incident to be classified as a case of defense of self and others, it would need to meet three criteria.

  1. A reasonable person would believe they or another were in imminent danger.
  2. A reasonable person would believe force was the only answer to stopping the danger.
  3. You used only the appropriate, that is, the minimum amount of force required to stop the threat.

As you can imagine both prosecutors and defense lawyers have a lot of wriggle room here. How do you determine whether force is the only answer? What if you could have called the police? What if you could have taken a big step back? While you’re under no obligation to retreat under California law, it’s nevertheless important to remember a retreat is an option.

And how much force is really required? If you pulled a gun on a man who attacked you with a knife are you using minimum force or just enough force?

This “wriggle room” is why you should never grow complacent by thinking either that the LAPD will not arrest you or the prosecutor will not prosecute you just because you claim you were defending yourself. This truth often catches defendants off-guard, causing them to say more than they should. Sometimes they wait too long to hire a private Los Angeles assault and battery defense lawyer, too.

In short, you can’t rely on “self-defense” until the charges are dropped or you’ve scored an acquittal.

A photo of a judge gavel in Los Angeles

How We Defend a Los Angeles Assault Case

Because assault has a very specific legal definition one of three things must be true before you can be convicted of this crime.

  1. You had to have the ability to commit assault in the first place.
  2. You had to have the intent to commit assault.
  3. You had to be involved in the incident at all.

If we can’t prove it was impossible for you to be involved in the incident we may nevertheless be able to prove you lacked ability or intent.

The defenses to a battery charge are similar, though include a fourth potential defense in that you cannot be convicted of battery, in some cases, if it can be proven the victim consented to the use of force. For example, a pair of buddies playfully shoving one another without any attempt to commit real violence could lack criminal liability because the contact was consensual.

Like all cases, Los Angeles assault and battery cases can get very complex very fast. Don’t put your life, freedom, and fate in the hands of an overburdened public defender. Instead, call our offices for a free consultation and find out how we can help.

Los Angeles Assault Lawyer

inne-rpage-seperator

When most people think of assault they think of the kinds of fist fights and street fights which can land someone in the hospital. Or they think of an abusive spouse violently flinging a victim into a wall while throwing punch after punch.

You might not be so quick to think of the bar room scuffle that breaks out on a Saturday night, or the time you lost your temper. But even seemingly “minor” incidents like these can be classified as assault, which means you could end up facing lifelong consequences if you are caught and charged in the middle of any such incident.

What is assault?

Assault is covered by California Penal Code 240, which defines assault as: “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”

This does not cover an incident of self-defense, though you should understand “self-defense” is not as clear-cut a defense as movies and television shows would have you believe.

What are the penalties for assault?

Assault is a “wobbler” crime in the state of California, which means it may be charged either as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Facts which could impact whether it’s one or the other include:

  • The severity of the assault. A simple slap is likely to be a misdemeanor, whereas a severe beating which lands the victim in the hospital may be bumped up to a felony.
  • Whether you used a weapon, or something equally dangerous like caustic chemicals, a vehicle, or some other dangerous object or substance.
  • Who the assault was committed against and what they were doing at the time. For example, you can expect harsher penalties if:
    • The victim was any kind of police officer, including parking control officers.
    • The victim was any kind of emergency personnel, especially if they were n uniform and busy conducting their duties at the time. This could mean paramedics, nurses, doctors, search and rescue, firefighters, etc.
    • The victim was a process server who was again engaged in the act of conducting his or her duties when the assault occurred.

The penalty for a misdemeanor assault, if you are convicted, is six months in jail, an $1000 fine, or some combination of jail time and a fine. If you are convicted of a felony assault you could spend up to 4 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

A photo of street light in Los Angeles

You may also hear assault paired with the crime of “battery.” Battery is a separate, but closely linked crime. An assault is attempted violence. Battery is a successful violence. If the battery results in serious bodily injury to the victim it would be called “aggravated battery.”

Battery is also a “wobbler” crime and is charged much the same way as assault is: with one year in jail and/or a $1000 fine if charged as a misdemeanor, and up to 4 years in jail and/or a $2,000 to $10,000 fine if charged as a felony.

Prosecutors can choose to charge you with both an assault and a battery if you are successful in causing harm. They can also choose to stick to one charge. If convicted of both, you could end up in jail for up to 8 years.

If we are unable to get the charges dismissed and are unable to prove your innocence, we are often successful at convincing judges to use alternative sentencing instead. This could mean taking anger-management classes, performing community service, and/or voluntary house arrest, but gives you the chance to get on with your life.

When is it self-defense instead of assault?

In order for the incident to be classified as a case of defense of self and others, it would need to meet three criteria.

  1. A reasonable person would believe they or another were in imminent danger.
  2. A reasonable person would believe force was the only answer to stopping the danger.
  3. You used only the appropriate, that is, the minimum amount of force required to stop the threat.

As you can imagine both prosecutors and defense lawyers have a lot of wriggle room here. How do you determine whether force is the only answer? What if you could have called the police? What if you could have taken a big step back? While you’re under no obligation to retreat under California law, it’s nevertheless important to remember a retreat is an option.

And how much force is really required? If you pulled a gun on a man who attacked you with a knife are you using minimum force or just enough force?

This “wriggle room” is why you should never grow complacent by thinking either that the LAPD will not arrest you or the prosecutor will not prosecute you just because you claim you were defending yourself. This truth often catches defendants off-guard, causing them to say more than they should. Sometimes they wait too long to hire a private Los Angeles assault and battery defense lawyer, too.

In short, you can’t rely on “self-defense” until the charges are dropped or you’ve scored an acquittal.

A photo of a judge gavel in Los Angeles

How We Defend a Los Angeles Assault Case

Because assault has a very specific legal definition one of three things must be true before you can be convicted of this crime.

  1. You had to have the ability to commit assault in the first place.
  2. You had to have the intent to commit assault.
  3. You had to be involved in the incident at all.

If we can’t prove it was impossible for you to be involved in the incident we may nevertheless be able to prove you lacked ability or intent.

The defenses to a battery charge are similar, though include a fourth potential defense in that you cannot be convicted of battery, in some cases, if it can be proven the victim consented to the use of force. For example, a pair of buddies playfully shoving one another without any attempt to commit real violence could lack criminal liability because the contact was consensual.

Like all cases, Los Angeles assault and battery cases can get very complex very fast. Don’t put your life, freedom, and fate in the hands of an overburdened public defender. Instead, call our offices for a free consultation and find out how we can help.

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