Not all assault charges are viewed equally by the law. If you have been charged in California with assault, it’s important to know the circumstances that come into play when determining the severity of the crime. By understanding the law, you can better prepare yourself to navigate the legal system and get back to a normal life.
Under California law, assault is defined as an unlawful attempt to cause a violent injury to another person combined with the present ability to do so. Simple assault charges may be punished with up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 maximum.
Why some assault charges are treated differently
One of the most common factors that cause assault charges to be elevated is when the victim belongs to one of several designated professions. There are steeper charges when the person assaulted was performing their duties in any of the following categories:
- Medical professional administering emergency care
- Peace officers (including police and other law enforcement)
- Animal control officer
- Code enforcement officer
- Paramedic or emergency medical technician
- Member of a search and rescue team
- Process server
Assuming you were aware that the victim was performing one of these professional duties – or you reasonably should have known – there is an increased maximum jail sentence of one year, and the maximum fine is raised to $2,000. If the assault victim is a parking control officer who was in the act of performing their professional duties, the maximum fine is also increased to $2,000. These types of workers are common targets for violent crimes, which is why the law goes out of its way to protect them.
Building a strong defense against assault charges may be daunting, but it’s made more manageable when you understand how different types of charges are weighed in court. When you go in with the knowledge of what factors increase assault charges, you won’t be faced with any unpleasant surprises at your trial.