Definition and Aspects of Assault:
Under California Penal Code 240 (PC 240), it is against the law to commit a violent injury on the person of another. Assault is defined as having the intention and the present ability to harm another person, and it is a misdemeanor offense punishable with jail time and expensive fines.
Assault and Battery are often referred to together; however, they are two distinctively different crimes. Battery (PC 242) consists of actually using force or violence against someone, while Assault (PC 240) is the attempt of doing so.
To be convicted of California Penal Code 240 (PC 240), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant performed an act that is by nature, could result in the application of force on another
- The Defendant acted willfully
- A reasonable person would understand that the action could result in the application of force on another
- At the time of the incident, the Defendant had the ability to apply force against the other person
The term ‘application of force’ refers to offensive or harmful touching, and it includes even the slightest of attempts done in an offensive manner. Regardless of whether or not an injury comes out of the encounter, if the Defendant acted willfully and with the intention and ability to harm the Victim, it is considered Assault (PC 240).
Lastly, the Defendant has to understand that his/her actions might lead to the application of force.
Criminal Offenses Related to Assault:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 240 (PC 240), Assault:
- Assault on a Public Official – California Penal Code 217.1(a) (PC 217.1(a))
- Battery – California Penal Code 242 (PC 242)
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon – California Penal Code 245(a)(1) (PC 245(a)(1))
Examples of Assault:
A woman is arguing with her coworker in the breakroom and, in the heat of the moment, throws a glass of water in the coworker’s face. While there is no risk of serious injury in this scenario, the woman acted willfully and had harmful intentions with the encounter. Under California Penal Code 240 (PC 240), she could be charged with Assault.
Following the above scenario, if the woman stood far away from the coworker and threw the water in her general direction, but it did not end up landing on the coworker, it would still be considered Assault (PC 240). What matters is the intention and the action. The woman does not have to succeed in applying force on the Victim.
Defenses for Assault:
One of the questions of the possible defense is the Defendant’s ability to inflict violence or force on another person. If he/she did not have the present capabilities to harm another, he/she would not be guilty of Assault (PC 240).
Another defense for California Penal Code 240 (PC 240) is if the Defendant acted in self-defense. If the Defendant reasonably believed he/she was in immediate danger of physical harm, it is not against the law to inflict reasonable force in order to defend himself/herself. However, offensive words alone are not enough to justify Assault (PC 240). The Defendant would need to be in harm’s way or in physical danger in order to justify using self-defense.
In the heat of a personal argument, there are incidents of false accusations. If the Defendant did not commit Assault (PC 240) or was mistakenly identified, he/she should not be charged.
Lastly, if the Defendant did not intend to Assault another or the incident happened by accident, it would not be considered a violation of California Penal Code 240 (PC 240). One of the requirements for Assault (PC 240) is the willfulness of the Defendant. If the incident was an accident or misunderstanding, an experienced criminal defense attorney could assist in getting the Defendant off the charges.
Consequences and Penalty for Assault:
California Penal Code 240 (PC 240) is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, a person could face jail time for up to six months and fined up to $1,000.
However, if the Victim who was assaulted belongs to a specialty group, the punishment increases. Such groups include peace officers, firefighters, EMTs, lifeguards, traffic officers, animal control officers, doctors or nurses providing emergency care, or rescue and service members. If Assault (PC 240) is committed against those groups, the possible jail sentence increases to one year, and the fines up to $2,000.
Assault, under California Penal Code 240 (PC 240), is a misdemeanor offense that can result in jail time and severe fines. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with Assault, you contact an expert attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of assault and violence-related cases and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 240 (PC 240), Assault. Book a free consultation today.