What makes an Assault Aggravated in California?

Committing assault can result in criminal charges and may attract penalties like detention in jail or expensive fine payments as punishment. Typically, the presiding judge will issue these orders if the prosecutor succeeds in showing that you are guilty of simple assault. On the other hand, aggravated assault raises more severe issues. Depending on the prosecutor's information, it may cause you to face felony or misdemeanor charges.

Therefore, you want to equip yourself with the relevant legal knowledge to help you prepare defenses and avoid facing the sentence enhancements available under aggravated assault. With The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, you will work with some of the best criminal lawyers ready to help you navigate your case. Further, the attorneys have worked on multiple similar cases, giving them the required experience to increase the chances of a favorable case outcome for you.

Understanding What Assault Entails

Since aggravated assault is a variation of simple assault, you want to understand the elements and premises of the basic charge. Anyone charged with simple assault is answerable for a misdemeanor offense, as the crime does not often attract serious harm to the victim. Nonetheless, any act of assault is unlawful, and you will face arrest and prosecution.

The main element of assault is an attempt to cause harm to another person. Further, the prosecutor must prove your intention to cause harm or reasonable apprehension to the victim.

Noteworthy, the prosecutor does not have to prove that the victim in question suffered physical harm, as long as you attempted to hurt them. Moreover, the type of violence or harmful behavior you unleashed on the victim may be through indirect impact.

For example, aiming a hard object like a stone at the alleged victim to try and hit them amounts to assault, among other similar actions. Additionally, using your body to unleash physical violence like punching, slapping, or shoving the targeted person is also assault.

The prosecutor will build their case based on case circumstances, so you want to discuss the events leading up to the alleged assault with your defense lawyer. This is especially important if you suspect you may face aggravated assault charges involving more severe consequences.

The Nature of Aggravated Assault

Having understood the essential elements of assault, you can determine whether your case qualifies for an aggravated assault charge. This is especially important to help you prepare your defenses in advance, as you will need to source evidence and discuss inconsistencies with your lawyer.

Notably, the aggravated assault includes additional severe circumstances that require further scrutiny and punishment for guilty parties. The reasoning is primarily because the victim in question will have faced a higher risk of harm, even if they escaped without injuries.

Subsequently, aggravated assault charges are applicable in specific situations where you may have overstepped legal provisions that prohibit putting others at serious risk of harm. Thus, your defense attorney will help you assess your case facts to check if they align with any of the following:

  1. Assault Using a Firearm

Under section 245(a)(2) of the California Penal Code, using a firearm to point at someone or aiming at them to shoot is aggravated assault. The offense will also involve other elements of crime, like your intention to cause serious harm to the victim. Hence, the prosecutor must prove all essential elements of the crime before the judge can find you guilty.

Common types of firearms in these cases include guns, pistols, or rifles in your possession. Further, you should note that you may face the charge regardless of being a licensed firearm holder. You will have violated a separate legal provision by assaulting the alleged victim.

  1. Assault Using a Deadly Weapon

Additionally, aggravated assault may also occur when you use any other type of deadly weapon apart from a firearm to try and cause harm to third parties. Doing so contradicts section 245(a)(1) of the Penal Code, meaning you will face prosecution for the crime.

In court, the prosecutor will first need to prove the type of deadly weapon in question as they build on other elements of the crime. Examples include knives, blunt tools like crowbars and hammers, or other items capable of causing fatal injuries.

Some cases may also incorporate makeshift objects as deadly weapons, even though they could be unconventional for everyday use. Therefore, you can expect the prosecutor to focus on your specific case facts to establish that you committed the assault and intended to cause harm.

  1. Assault on a School Employee Using a Deadly Weapon

Thirdly, you will be answerable for aggravated assault if you use a deadly weapon on a school employee. Under section 245.5 of the Penal Code, the nature of fatal weapons in question includes firearms, sharp objects, tasers, and any type of gun like a stun gun. The investigation officers working on your case are responsible for collecting the item in question and producing it as evidence during your trial.

Additionally, the prosecutor should prove that the alleged victim in question is a school employee by producing evidence to support this fact. This will often include their employment contract in the school or any other documents that link the person in question to the school.

Apart from teachers, other school employees include the kitchen and cafeteria staff, janitors, security guards, and administrative staff. Therefore, you cannot contest having committed aggravated assault on non-teaching teams because they are not school employees.

  1. Assault Using Corrosive Chemicals

Moreover, aggravated assault touches on more serious incidents like using corrosive chemicals to harm the victim. The action is in contravention of section 244 of the Penal Code and will likely attract the most severe consequences for any guilty party.

Notably, caustic or corrosive chemicals have an abrasive effect on the victim, as they cause reactions when in contact with flesh. Consequently, the victim may suffer severe disfigurement and lasting skin conditions from exposure to the chemicals.

Sulphuric acid is among the most common caustic chemicals used to commit assault, so the prosecutor may order thorough investigations to verify whether you used the chemical. Further, the prosecutor may source evidence like purchase receipts to prove that you bought the chemical to cause harm.

Additional analysis by the prosecutor backed by sufficient evidence may also reveal whether you had a true criminal intention to cause harm. If they succeed, you will be liable to longer jail sentences and any other sentence enhancement applicable in the case.

  1. Committing Assault Through Actions that May Cause Grievous Bodily Harm

Lastly, the prosecutor may also enter an aggravated assault charge for any actions likely to cause grievous bodily harm. The regulations follow section 245(a)(4), and the prosecutor will apply discretion to establish whether the victim’s injuries are grievous.

Hence, you can expect the prosecutor to produce medical records that demonstrate the severity of the victim’s injuries. Furthermore, if the alleged victim can testify, the prosecutor may call on them to describe the pain and suffering they have faced since the assault. The information helps the prosecutor persuade the judge or jury of your guilty involvement.

Examples of grievous bodily harm include bone fractures that take longer to heal, as they may immobilize the victim for a long time. Further, jawbone fractures are also severe, mainly because of the invasive repair surgery victims receive as treatment. As a result, they may be unable to function generally before making a full recovery, classifying the injury as great bodily harm.

Sustaining injuries from gunshot wounds can expose the victim to infections, ruptured blood vessels, and internal bleeding. Based on these risks, the prosecutor also charges suspects who are victims of aggravated assault, as the injuries pose more threats to the victims.

Consequently, causing any type of grievous injury to the victim may be detrimental to you, as your penalties may be significantly worse. However, your criminal defense attorney works to provide the best counterarguments to help your case.

Defenses Applicable Against Aggravated Assault Charges

After the prosecutor concludes their case presentation, your criminal attorney will present case defenses on your behalf to help you avoid penalties. While the defense hearing allows you to establish your case, you should center your arguments around the prosecutor’s statements.

In doing so, you want to pick out any inconsistencies or false claims against you and defend them by providing your version of events. Since your criminal defense lawyer has experience in defense presentation, you can expect them to guide you on the best strategies to apply. They will also request you to provide relevant information to aid the case, so you want to comply accordingly.

Various defenses are applicable against an aggravated assault charge. Some of them include:

You Acted in Self Defense

Any act in self-defense should not amount to a criminal offense, mainly because every person has the liberty to defend themselves from danger. As a result, you can rely on self-defense as your primary counterargument against the prosecutor's case. However, you need to understand the basic premises of this argument, as you will be subject to some limitations.

Firstly, you must prove that you were in real danger from the attacker or reasonably believed to be in trouble. Proving this circumstance is necessary because it absolves you from additional scrutiny on your motives to attack the other party.

Hence, your defense attorney will advise you to focus on showing the circumstances leading to your actions to help you establish whether you had justifications for attacking them. Furthermore, you want to show that the person you believed was attacking you had targeted you, meaning that your assumptions were legitimate.

To do this, you can show that the person had been following you or that they had begun showing signs of aggression that put you on high alert. You also want to provide additional evidence through testimonies, surveillance footage, or other sources to support your case.

Secondly, you must also prove that you lacked any alternative to dealing with the danger, prompting you to retaliate through violent action. As a general rule, anyone who had the chance to escape the threat yet failed to do so cannot rely on self-defense. The reasoning is that you will have resorted to violating the law even where other space avenues were available.

When preparing this defense, your attorney will provide the essential pointers and elements to satisfy to ensure you can entirely rely on it. If successful, you can expect to receive an acquittal or a significant sentence reduction at the judge’s discretion.

You Did Not Assault the Alleged Victim

Secondly, you can deny having assaulted the victim, meaning that you refute the entire premise of your charges. Although this is a drastic move, your defense lawyer can help you prepare adequately for your court presentation. However, you need to provide convincing evidence to justify your defense, mainly because the prosecutor will have already proven their case.

One of the best ways to support the defense is by providing an alibi. The term refers to a statement by you or a primary witness indicating that you were not at the crime scene at the date and time. This insinuates that the prosecutor and investigation officers made a wrongful arrest and charged you falsely.

There was a Mistake of Fact

Similarly, you may rely on the defense of mistakes, especially where you strongly believe that the investigation officers failed to account for important details. For example, if the victim claims that a sharp object caused their injury yet there was no recovery of the suspected item, you can raise the issue and cite a mistake of fact.

Further, mistake of fact may extend to mistaken identity, whereby you and the actual offender’s identities are similar and result in a wrongful arrest. In doing so, ensure that you present all the relevant evidence to absolve yourself of responsibility, as the judge will more likely apply extra scrutiny to your claims.

If you successfully present the defense, you can expect the judge to order your acquittal, as you have no claim to answer. However, you should raise the issue of mistakes earlier if possible to avoid attending a full trial.

Your Case Involves Police Misconduct

Police misconduct may occur through false arrests, coercing the suspect to confess, or even plating evidence to warrant your arrest. As a victim of police misconduct, you have a valid claim and should present it at the earliest opportunity.

Backing your claims with sufficient proof is advisable because you will accuse law enforcement officers of a severe offense that may cost their jobs. Hence, working closely with your defense attorney is advisable.

Penalties for Committing Aggravated Assault

If the prosecutor’s case is successful, the judge or jury will side with them and find you guilty of the offense. As a result, you can expect several penalties depending on specific case circumstances and the type of charge the prosecutor had initially entered.

Since aggravated assault is a wobbler crime, you are liable to either a misdemeanor or felony penalties. As a misdemeanor, you will face a sentence of up to one year in county jail. Conversely, felony offenders may face a sentence of up to four years in state prison.

If your charges involved committing aggravated assault using caustic chemicals, you would face an automatic felony charge. The prosecutor enters the harsher charge because of the irreversible damage and disfigurement you commit on the victim.

This is because most assault cases using caustic chemicals target the victim’s face, aiming to destroy their appearance for malicious purposes. Subsequently, your felony penalties may include a sentence in state prison for up to four years or a fine payment of up to $10,000.

The presiding judge decides whether to vary these penalties and issue the minimum or maximum punishment. To do this, they rely on additional information like whether the victim can access restorative treatment and, if so, whether they require extra costs. Moreover, the judge may adjust the penalties depending if you caused fatalities or life-threatening injuries beyond the skin disfigurement.

You should also note that you risk deportation if you are guilty of aggravated assault as a non-citizen. This means you could lose your right to access the country, regardless of your engagements in whichever state you live in.

Additionally, the department of immigration may mark you as inadmissible. Thus, the inadmissible status would make it difficult to return to the country. Hence, you would need to find alternative locations to restructure your life, which may be challenging.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Doubtless, dealing with aggravated assault charges can attract more severe consequences for you if the presiding judge or jury finds you guilty. Understanding the nature and types of actions related to the offense is therefore essential, giving you better chances of a favorable case outcome.

At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we dedicate our services to helping clients deal with aggravated assault charges in the best way possible. Our legal team comprises well-experienced professionals who will prioritize your matter and help you build strong defenses. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance in handling aggravated assault cases, call us today at 310-564-2605.

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