Sacramento Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains Aggravated Assault Crimes & Charges
What is Assault? Though many people think of assault as a part of or connected to battery, most likely due to our consistent use of “assault and battery” as a phrase, the state of California considers assault and battery separate charges. While battery is defined as unlawful and willful physical contact with another individual, assault is defined as the unlawful attempt combined with the present ability to commit violent injury to another person, or an attempt and ability to commit battery. Essentially, assault is attempted battery. If you’ve been charged with assault, or have questions of the differences, make sure to contact a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer for legal assistance pertaining to your specific case.
In order to be convicted of assault in California, the following must be established:
- The accused party acted in a way that was likely to result in the use of force against the “victim” – Force indicates any harmful or offensive touching. Even very slight touching can count if done in a rude or offensive manner. It is not necessary for contact to actually be made between the accused and the “victim.” Assault can be considered to have occurred if there is even an attempt at harmful or offensive contact directly or through an inanimate object.
- The accused party acted willfully – This means the action was done on purpose. It is not required for the accused to have intended to break the law, hurt anyone else, or gain any advantage.
- The accused party was aware, as any reasonable person would be, that his or her behavior would directly and likely result in force being applied to the “victim.” – It is not necessary for the accused to have intended to use force against the “victim,” only that the accused was aware that, under the circumstances, of the event, there was a likelihood that the actions of the accused would lead to the application of force.
- The accused party had the ability to apply force to the “victim”
What is Aggravated Assault?
Unlike simple assault, aggravated assault is when the accused had a clear intent to commit serious bodily injury to the “victim.” Simple assault is elevated to aggravated assault when it is obvious that the accused was trying to inflict serious injury with disregard to the victim’s life. Getting charged for aggravated assault can affect your life in many different ways. If you or someone you know has been charged, contact a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer for legal advice immediately.
Simple assault may also be elevated to aggravated assault when the assault involved a firearm or other deadly weapon. Any crime that includes an attempt of murder, robbery, rape, or assault with a deadly or dangerous weapon is considered aggravated assault throughout the state of California.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault is considered a wobbler by the state of California. This means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Because each case depends on a variety of factors, it’s always best to contact a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer regarding your case specifically. Penalties for a misdemeanor charge include:
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Up to one year in jail
- Misdemeanor probation
- Restitution (paying the victim)
- Confiscation of any weapon involved in the assault that is owned by the accused
- Community service
- Anger management courses
A felony charge can result in the above penalties as well as longer sentences in state prison. As with any felony conviction, a felony conviction for aggravated assault would result in a “strike” towards the Three Strikes Law. After two strikes, the third may result in a sentence of 25 years to life.
It’s possible to be convicted of assault even if no one was actually injured. This leads to many people without criminal histories who acted without realizing they were breaking the law to be charged with assault. There are several defenses a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer can turn to when their clients are facing these charges. These defenses include:
- The accused did not have the ability to inflict force – If a firearm was used in the assault, it being unloaded could support the claim that it was impossible to inflict great harm.
- The accused acted in self-defense or in the defense of another person – Everyone has the right to defend themselves. It is possible to argue that the “victim” was behaving in a threatening manner that justified the accused’s actions.
- The accused did not act willfully or with the required intent – If the action was done on accident, it does not qualify as assault at all.
- The accused was wrongfully charged – Without clear evidence or strong witness testimony, the case may be thrown out as hearsay. Since aggravated assault does not require anyone to suffer an injury, it’s very easy for a person to accuse another of this crime without any evidence. Showing that the “victim” made this accusation out of anger, jealousy, or revenge can result in a not-guilty verdict.
Being charged with aggravated assault can be extremely distressing, especially since many people don’t realize how little is required to be charged with this crime. Seeking an experienced Sacramento criminal defense lawyer can take a huge weight off the shoulders of the accused by putting the case in the hands of a professional.
Contact a Sacramento Criminal Defense Lawyer
Getting charged for any crime can be extremely overwhelming and stressful. The first thing you need to keep in mind is that there are defenses you can take so all hope is not lost. With over a decade of experience with the Sacramento courts, Alin Cintean advocates for your interests regardless of the crime. Give us a call at (916) 441-3500 to speak to a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer today.