In California a person can be charged with assault even if their actions did not result on any kind of injury. Penal Code 240 PC, the state’s assault law, legally defines assault as an act that:
- by its nature would probably result in the use of force against another person
- was wilfully committed
- was committed with the awareness that it would result in the application of force to the other person
- involved a perpetrator capable of applying that force to the other person
PC 240 assault is a misdemeanor California. Potential penalties include summary probation, up to six months in a county jail, and / or a fine of up to $1,000. But if the victim belongs to professional categories that are considered protected, the penalties are heightened. Examples of protected categories include:
● Peace officers
● EMTs or paramedics
● Traffic officers
● Process servers
● Code enforcement officers
● Animal control officers
● Doctors and nurses administering emergency medical care
● Search and rescue team members
Anyone convicted of assaulting a person belonging to one of these professions can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined $2,000. The fine also increases to $2,000 if the victim is a parking control officer performing their duties.
On the federal level, simple assault will result in a fine and imprisonment of up to one year. If physical force is used on the victim, or the assault takes place with the intent to commit another felony, the penalty is a fine or imprisonment of up to 8 years, or both. Assault committed in a federal territory can be punished by up to 10 years in prison if serious injury results from the attack.
Higher degrees of assault are treated even more severely: assault with intent to commit murder can result in a 20-year prison sentence. Attacking a federal officer or government employee who is doing their job (i.e. a postal worker) can send someone to prison for up to 20 years. If the assault is accompanied by intent to steal federal property, a convicted party can serve 10-25 years in a federal facility.
Assault with a deadly weapon, Battery, Battery causing serious bodily injury, Disturbing the peace
Anyone charged with assault should contact an experienced California defense attorney immediately. If the evidence is weak a skilled attorney can be instrumental in getting the charge either reduced to disturbing the peace (which is often treated as a mere infraction) or dropped altogether.
Successful defenses to a California assault charge include proven inability to inflict force or violence; acting in defense of oneself or another person; failure to act wilfully or with the required intent, and false accusation.
On March 31, 2014, Sacramento police arrested Jake Thomas, 24, on charges of assault and delaying / obstructing an officer’s duty. Officers responded to a report that a parking control officer had been assaulted, and were informed that Thomas had been verbally abusive and thrown the ticket at the officer.