Assault is the intentional attempt to injure or threaten to injure another. If physical contact is made, then the crime is battery. This crime is set forth in California Penal Code Section 240. If you have been charged with assault, it is important to keep the following in mind:
- What is Assault?
In order to be convicted of assault, the prosecution must prove that the willful act by the defendant was intended to cause fear of harm by the victim, and the victim was fearful for their safety.
- Bodily Contact
Not to be confused with battery, in an assault no physical contact actually needs to be made. Examples of this would be trying to run someone down with a car, or pointing a gun at someone.
- Who is the Victim?
A simple assault is considered a misdemeanor in California. This crime is considered a wobbler however, which means that in certain cases it can be considered a felony. If the assault is carried out against health care providers, public officers, school district personnel, or a juror it is a felony.
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon
The crime of assault with a deadly weapon is defined in California Penal Code 245 (a)(1). It is an assault, where the defendant uses a weapon of some sort, or commits an assault with force that is likely to cause bodily injury. The important thing to note here is that a weapon does not necessarily have to be a firearm. A deadly weapon could be a car, a vicious dog, or even a pointy object such as a pencil or piece of glass. (See our article, "Can I be charged with assault in California if I did not use a firearm?")
- Aggravated Assault
An aggravated assault is found when the gravity of harm that occurs or is likely to occur the defendant intends is serious. This crime is considered a felony, and can be committed with a weapon, or committed in the course of committing a serious crime.