Assault Case Process in Oakland
Being arrested on assault charges can be harrowing. You may be fearful, anxious, or even angry. You can feel more prepared and better-equipped for the road ahead by familiarizing yourself with the assault case process in Oakland, from arrest to exoneration or sentencing, by speaking to an Oakland Assault attorney. A local assault attorney could explain what you will likely face as your case moves through the criminal justice system, answer your personal questions, give you advice about the general procedures, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Further, an Oakland assault attorney can represent you during the process through negotiations and litigation. They can make mitigation efforts, seek out a dismissal or an appealing resolution, or even take the case to trial.
Mitigating Factors for Oakland Assault Cases
What is a mitigating factor and how can it help me? Mitigating factors are events that show the opposing side or the court that while there may be some evidence against you, the other party should take these mitigating items into consideration before making an offer, imposing a judgment or sentence, or determining if the defendant is guilty of a felony or simply a misdemeanor. Many factors go into determining whether an assault case is tried as a misdemeanor or felony, including:
- Mitigating factors such as age, employment, military service, education, or circumstances leading up to the assault
- Whether the assault was sexual in nature
- How badly the alleged victim is hurt
- Prior charges
- Severity of the allegations
Felonies are more serious and have more severe consequences than misdemeanors. Felonies can result in state prison time and parole supervision after release while misdemeanors carry a maximum exposure of one year in county jail and probation instead of parole. Fines associated with felonies are higher than fines associated with misdemeanors and the effects of both a felony and misdemeanor assault conviction are far-reaching. The individual can face immigration consequences for aggravated felonies and crimes involving moral turpitude, loss of rights such as gun rights, and the several restrictions that can be imposed during a term of supervision such as anger management, surrender of weapons, stay away and no contact orders, and search clauses. An experienced assault lawyer could review the facts of your case and advise you on the evidence against you – whether it works in your favor or not, the strengths and weaknesses of the case, potential resolutions, and the possible outcomes and consequences if the case is resolved or taken to trial.
Being Arrested for an Assault Allegation
California Penal Code §240 states that an assault is any unlawful attempt to inflict a violent injury on another person. This is a broad definition, so the specific facts of your assault case are extremely important when determining how it might proceed.
Someone charged with an assault will be arrested either on a warrant or based on probable cause, depending on the available evidence and judges. If there is strong evidence but no available judges, he or she can be arrested on probable cause. Probable cause means that there is enough evidence against the individual to pursue the case but it does not rise to the level of evidence needed to prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt. So just because there is probable cause does not mean that all hope is lost or the case cannot turn in favor of the accused.
If law enforcement has obtained a search warrant as a part of their investigation and makes contact with you, this is the ideal time in the assault case process to retain an Oakland assault lawyer who could guide you on the process, what the search warrant can cover, how the investigation may proceed, and how to protect yourself in the case going forward.
Getting Taken into Custody
Under Penal Code §825, the accused must be charged and arraigned within 48 hours after arrest (excluding Sundays and holidays). When the 48 hours expires at a time when the court is not in session, that time extends to include the duration of the next court session of the next judicial day. If the accused is not arraigned within that time frame, he or she will be booked and released with a promise to appear – a citation to return for the arraignment date rather than being held in jail.
During an arraignment, a judge reads the charges against the accused that were filed by the District Attorney. The reading of the charges will indicate whether the assault accusation is a misdemeanor or felony. The District Attorney makes the decision about what to include on the charging document, called a Complaint, depending on the seriousness of the offense including injuries and the use of weapons. At arraignment the attorney for the accused will inform the court of their plea (not guilty, guilty, or no contest) – at the outset of the case the only way to fight a case is to plead not guilty. The attorney will also discuss speedy trial rights and then a court date will be set for a pretrial hearing.
Understanding Assault Cases in Oakland
If the person facing assault charges is charged with a felony, he or she is entitled to a preliminary hearing. A misdemeanor case, on the other hand, has no preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing the judge determines if there is probable cause for the defendant to be “held to answer” for the charges that the District Attorney filed against them. The results of the hearing can be that all the charges stick and proceed, some of the charges get dismissed or reduced, or more charges get added depending on the evidence that comes out in the preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is important to the accused because it gives their attorney the first glance at what evidence the State has against the accused, and “locks in” the testimony of the witnesses. If they change their story at trial, the defense attorney can use that prior testimony against them.
After the preliminary hearing, if the judge holds the defendant to answer the District Attorney will draft an Information and there will be another arraignment followed by pretrial work and negotiations. The defense attorney will argue pre-trial motions, which are requests to the Court to make specific decisions before the trial, such as suppressing evidence, dismissing counts, or requesting court orders for release of evidence. While defense attorneys argue these motions, they are also conducting an investigation, gathering evidence, and interviewing witnesses.
Settling (AKA taking a plea deal) or Going to Trial
Many assault cases can be resolved without going to trial. It is possible to get a felony case reduced to a misdemeanor, avoid state prison time and parole, and other serious consequences with the help of an experienced criminal defense assault lawyer. Whether a case goes to trial depends on the state of the evidence, the individual facts and circumstances at issue, the severity of the alleged crime, the offer on the table, and the potential exposure if convicted among other things. An assault attorney could advocate for you both in and out of court during this difficult process and make you aware of any mitigating factors that may apply in your case and the defense best suited for the case.
Ask an Experienced Lawyer about the Assault Case Process in Oakland Today
If you were arrested for assault, you will need someone in your corner who is well-versed on California criminal defense practice with a focus on assault cases. Let a skilled attorney walk you through the assault case process in Oakland. Reach out today for your consultation.