Oakland Assault Lawyer
Under California criminal law, a basic assault consists of a threat or attempt to harm another person, with no actual contact or physical harm resulting. Based on this definition, the classic common law crime of assault may seem like it should not be a serious offense.
However, assault is considered a violent crime by law enforcement officials in Oakland, and the potential penalties include significant jail time, a heavy fine, and requirements to make restitution to the victim. If you are facing assault charges, it may be a good idea to talk to an Oakland assault lawyer who could explain the implications of your charge and build a defensive strategy to pursue a strong resolution of your case. To get started or learn more about how a defense attorney can help you, call and schedule a consultation today.
The Definition of Assault in Oakland
While the term “assault” is used in other jurisdictions to refer to a wide range of violent offenses, the crime is more narrowly defined in California. Specifically, California Penal Code §240 describes assault as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”
Generally, for someone to be convicted of assault, they must:
- Commit an act that was likely to result in the application of force to another person
- Commit that act willfully
- Be aware that the action taken would likely result in the application of force
- Have had the ability to apply such force to the other person
As an Oakland assault lawyer can explain, an “application of force” could be interpreted to include any type of harmful or offensive touch. For example, spitting on someone—while not likely to cause physical harm—is considered offensive, so attempting to spit on someone may constitute an assault.
The crux of an assault crime is the attempt—or sometimes even a threat—to cause injury, if made in such a way that it puts the other person in fear of imminent harm. If actual contact is made, then the act becomes a battery.
Battery is defined in Cal. Pen. Code §242 as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” In other words, an attempt to use force constitutes an assault, while any actual use of force—which may be offensive rather than actively harmful—is considered a battery.
A simple assault in Oakland is punishable by up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, the penalties may increase if the assault is carried out against someone in a particular type of role making it important that an Oakland assault lawyer is consulted as soon as possible.
For instance, under Cal. Pen. Code §241(b), if someone is accused of assaulting a parking control officer, the potential fine doubles to $2,000. If the assault is carried out against a first responder or other personnel listed in this statute, both the fine and potential term of imprisonment double. The maximum penalties for assault also increase for assaults occurring in parks, on school property, or on public transportation property.
The penalties for simple battery are similar, with a maximum fine of $2,000 and a potential jail term of six months unless the battery is carried out against a particular listed person or in a particular protected location. For example, a battery committed against an elderly person may be punished by up to one year in jail, according to Cal. Pen. Code §243.25.
Assault and battery both become much more serious crimes when a deadly weapon is involved. Cal. Pen. Code §245 states that those convicted of assault using a deadly weapon may face up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The severity of the offense increases if the weapon used is a firearm, particularly an assault rifle, machine gun, or similar weapon.
Assault crimes require an individual to take deliberate action to be found guilty, so it may be possible to find evidence indicating a lack of intent or argue insufficient evidence to prove the necessary state of mind. Fortunately, an experienced Oakland assault lawyer could know the right defensive strategies to apply based on the circumstances involved. To start pursuing the best potential outcome in your case, call now to start with a free consultation.