An assault conviction can result in jail time and fines. The most important thing to remember is that assault is a misdemeanor that can always be challenged in court. Individuals charged with assault should always seek the attention of a criminal law attorney or public defender. Individuals who were acting out of self-defense or whose actions have been misinterpreted may want to speak with an attorney who can help challenge the charges in a courtroom. An assault is charged almost the same as with a battery, in some cases, assault can result in more serious punishments.

An assault is an attempt to attack or cause physical harm to another person. On the other hand, a battery (which is often associated with assault cases), is the actual harm caused to another person. An easy way to think about it is, assault is the attempt while a battery is a successful assault. When you successfully carry out your attack, you can be charged with battery as opposed to assault. For instance, say Mary spat at her neighbor Lucy. Lucy may press charges for an attempt to cause harm or offense. However, if Mary hit Lucy right in the forehead with spit, Mary may press charges for battery. In most cases, no matter how much force is applied, so long as there were an offense and contact, it may be enough to be charged with battery as opposed to assault.

Individuals charged with assault instead of a battery should know that the bad news is that there is no good news. The individual charged with assault may face fines and jail time just like they would if they had carried out the attack. Assault cases often hold the same or more consequences than a battery, because the outcome of the assault is highly criticized in court. For instance, a person who is charged with assault for spitting at someone may face fewer punishments than someone who commits an assault with a weapon. The ‘would be’ outcome of an assault is what’s at stake. In a courtroom, your intentions will be deeply criticized before a final verdict. 

An assault crime has a variety of elements that can be contested to either achieve a lesser punishment, drop the charges, or press charges. Individuals who find themselves in a courtroom for charges of assault will find that there is an emphasis on the following:

  • The intent or reasons of the planned attack: the outcome of the attack. Whether the attacker was acting with the intent to kill or simply acting out of anger.
  • The attacker’s identity: the person that is pressing charges cannot successfully press charges unless they can prove the identity of the attacker. Individuals are falsely accused every year which is why establishing the attacker's identity is a crucial step before conviction.
  • The identity of the victim: if your actions are politically motivated, you may face additional penalties for attacking a person in blue or other public servants/officials.
  • Whether the attack caused physical harm or offense: the attack will need to have caused offense or harm.
  • The victim must be legitimately scared for his or her own well-being: this means that the perpetrator must pose a real danger, meaning, that he or she had the ability to cause physical harm or carry out some form of attack.

The elements of the crime presented above are contested in a courtroom to prove liability or innocence. As you can see, the identity of the victim is also a deciding factor in an assault case. An assault that was directed towards a public official or public servant can be charged with additional penalties and fines. Regular assaults are treated with a misdemeanor, however, when the victim is a public official the offense may become a wobbler. A wobbler is a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony will hold longer jail or prison sentences, and you can expect to pay more in fines.

Assault on a public official is a serious crime that can be charged under Penal Code 217.1 (a). When an assault is directed towards a public official, the intent of the attack will be analyzed. The judge will consider the reasons for your attacks. For instance, if Mary attempts to attack ole’ Bernie Sanders to prevent him from attending a meeting, she can be charged under PC 217.1 (a). On the other hand, Mary is at a bar next to Mr. Sanders (who she does not know), she gets into an argument with him and throws a beer at him. In this case, Mary does not know Mr. Sanders and may only be charged with regular assault. To be charged with an ‘assault on a public official’ the perpetrator's actions would need to be politically motivated. For example, an attack to prevent a person from reaching their next state meeting destination, or an attack based on what a public official has said or done, can be charged with assault under PC 217.1 (a). Furthermore, the act of preventing someone from performing their duties is also analyzed. For instance, if you resist arrest without reason, you can be charged with assault on a public official if you resist and attempt to attack.

If you or your dependent adult, or child has attacked a public official, you may want to seek the attention of an attorney. An attorney can assist by contesting the charges in a courtroom. If your actions have been misinterpreted, or you did not know you were in a quarrel with a public official, you may be able to drop charges or have them reduced to a simple assault. To ensure that you are not wrongly convicted, you may contact the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer at 310-502-1314. We are experienced with assault and battery cases in the state of California. To learn more about your rights, contact us today.

Assault On A Public Official

As mentioned above, an assault on a public official is a serious offense that can result in a misdemeanor or a felony. According to Penal Code 217.1 (a) a public officer is anyone who works for a public office or who has been appointed or elected to their position. In addition, an assault on a public officers family can also be charged under PC 217.1 (a). A public official is anyone working for a local, state, or federal department or agency. To learn more about who is a public official and the type of work they do, you may visit the following page on U.S Government and Agencies. In addition, the PC 217.1 (a) and PC 830.1 (a) describes a list of individuals considered to be public officials. The following is a list of public officials that you may already know about, however, the list will not cover all public officials that are protected under PC 217.1.

  • S President
  • S Vice President
  • S Governor (of any territory)
  • S Judge and anyone else working within the judicial system including public defenders and district attorneys
  • Chief of Police Department
  • Any Juror
  • Peace Officer: Police Officers, Sheriff, Deputy Sheriff, Chief Executive Officer, University Police
  • Anyone working for the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Fish and Game
  • Anyone working in the fire department
  • Anyone working for the military: Army, Marine, Navy, Airforce

An assault on the individuals mentioned above can result in a felony depending on the seriousness of the attack. Individuals that act with the intent to murder any of the individuals mentioned above may face 15 years to life in prison. In these cases, the judge will take into account the attacker's motive and then determine whether the attacker was carrying out an attack for political reasons or to prevent a person from performing their lawful duties. Penal Code 217. 1 (b) explains that you can be charged with 15 years in prison if your attacks were motivated by a) retaliation for something the official did or stands for and/or b) to prevent the official from performing their official duties. When a person attempts to attack someone while they are performing their duties or prevent them from performing their duties (such as carrying out an arrest) they may face heftier punishments than they may think. The best thing to do after assault charges and to ensure you are not wrongfully convicted is to discuss your case with a law professional.

Very rarely do assault cases get charged with a felony, however, as you will see in a case in Colorado, you can be charged with more than one felony and a misdemeanor at the same time for assault. A single interaction with a public servant or peace officer can result in more than one charge depending on the circumstances.

Colorado Man: Faces Felony and Misdemeanor Assault Charges

On July 28, 2018, a man in Colorado retaliated against a police officer after receiving a ticket for leaving his dogs in his car; unattended on a hot summer evening. A 21-year-old Colorado man was charged with two counts of felony assault for spitting at a police officer and causing harm, and an assault misdemeanor, ‘obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest’. In the Colorado man's case, the individual was charged with two felony assault for causing harm and spitting at a police officer while performing his duties.

Police reports say the 21-year-old left his dogs unattended and without water. He was approached by a police officer that explained the offense and sent him off with a warning. Refusing to take the dogs home, the victim is found thirty minutes later exiting a restaurant with an ice cream in his hand. The police officer approached the man with a ticket for ‘improper care of animals’. While providing the ticket, the victim spits at the police officer and attempts to get away. As the police officer attempts to pull him out of the car the victim goes in reverse, injuring the police officer.

In this case, the man was given a warning and later refused to accept the ticket, and resisted arrest. In addition, he was charged with assault and battery laws for spitting and harming a police officer. The assault case resulted in a felony charge because his actions were directed towards a police officer; had it been directed to someone else, the law would be applied differently. Furthermore, the victim used force on a police officer while resisting arrest. Resisting arrest is only acceptable if and when a police officer exerts enough force to cause a person to fear for their life. The actions that constitute a felony are few when it comes to assault, but as you can see in the case above, they do occur. 

Before being convicted, the victim has the right to a courtroom trial. If the Colorado man is backed by a good attorney, he may have his penalties reduced. Every case has a good amount of factors that may not have been reported or shown on camera. In some circumstances, you want an experienced attorney to have a second look.

Southern California: 7 Street Racers Plead Not Guilty

Sen street racers in southern California face up to seven years in jail for hit-and-run and assault crimes. On April 16, 2018, two LAPD police officers chased a vehicle after witnessing a hit-and-run at the intersection between West Manchester and South Western. The car racing onlookers met the police with rocks and bottles, according to a report by KTLA.

The seven defendants face felony charges for assaulting an on-duty police officer and resisting arrest and throwing objects with intent to cause great bodily harm. The bail for five of the defendants is set at ten-thousand dollars while one of the defenders has a bail set at $100,000. The seven street racers ages 19 to 21, may spend the next seven years of their lives behind jail for attacking a police officer.

As you can see from the cases above, assault on a public servant does not mean planning the next attack on a president. Due to the frequent contact between police officers and civilians, it is common to be charged with assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest. If you are being chased by a police officer, it is best to comply and later contest the charges (if any).

Resisting Arrest And Assault On A Public Official

In certain circumstances, a police officer will use force only when an individual resists arrest. If you are stopped by a police officer and you avoid spitting at them and running them over like in the case above, there is no reason for a police officer to use force. However, the longer you resist the more force a police officer will apply to carry on with the arrest. Resisting an arrest is only acceptable when the police officer is using excessive force without reason. For instance, if a policeman stops you and pulls you out of your car without asking or without warning and starts beating you up because he thinks you’re a criminal, then you have the right to resist arrest and defend yourself. The cop, in this case, can be charged with assault and battery and other charges for abusing the law. Your interaction with a police officer should never result in aggression. Once either party is aggravated and there is no cooperation between both the police officer and civilian may, they may end up getting hurt.

Keep in mind that you are only justified to resist arrest if a) the police officer is using excessive force and there is no sign of stopping, b) you did not aggravate the police and the police began using force, c) you did not resist arrest and the police began using force. In other words, if you used force, aggravated, or gave the police any reason to use force, then your resistance to arrest is not lawful and you will face additional charges for resisting arrest under Penal Code Section 148.

When a police officer applies an excessive force it is usually because the victim is resisting arrest. A police officer is allowed to use force to carry out his duties. The police officer is not allowed to continue using force after you stopped resisting arrest. To avoid any charges of assault and so that  you do not get hurt when you interact with police, it is best to comply. As seen with the cases above, resisting arrest can lead to charges of assault.

If you are facing charges of assault on a public servant, you are encouraged to seek guidance and representation. If you did not intentionally attack a police officer or if there are more factors to your story, you may want to discuss the case with an attorney. Every case has a variety of factors, just because you are accused and charged does not mean you are convicted. To ensure that your case does not default and that your case is analyzed with local laws, you may contact the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer at 310-502-1314.