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What Is An Aggravated Assault Charge In California?



An aggravated assault charge involves one individual doing something extremely dangerous to another individual. A simple assault charge is usually brought when one person acts in a threatening manner to another person, such as acting as if they are going to punch them.

The difference between assault and battery is that the battery requires physical contact and assault does not. If you pulled out a gun and you pointed it at somebody that would be assault with a deadly weapon. To get to the level of aggravated assault you would have to be doing something very serious.

If you are charged with the violent crime of aggravated assault, you’re going to want to get an attorney, because it’s not a very common charge. You would probably have a good argument that the charge should be reduced to simple assault.

To give readers a better understanding of aggravated assault, our California criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Is Penal Code 245 Aggravated Assault a Felony?

Aggravated assault can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, but typically the prosecutor would charge it as a felony. If you’re convicted of a felony you would lose your gun rights and your right to vote and you would potentially be facing prison time.Aggravated Assault Charge In California

If you’re charged with aggravated assault you should definitely get an attorney and you’re going to want that attorney to really look over everything to see if it makes sense for you to be charged with such a serious crime.

You may have a defense to an aggravated assault charge if the other party was doing something very dangerous and you were simply defending yourself or letting the other party know that you would defend yourself.

Your best bet is to let a qualified criminal defense attorney look over everything and get your version of events. The police don’t always get the full story and the prosecutors end up making the decision to file the charge based on a one-sided account. That makes it a lot more likely that they’re going to want to file a case against you and convict you without having all the details that your criminal defense attorney can provide.

Difference Between Aggravated And Simple Assault In California

A simple assault is a misdemeanor charge and often involves behavior that is on the borderline between criminal conduct and non-criminal conduct. An aggravated assault charge means that you were attempting to cause serious bodily injury to another person.

If you did end up causing them serious bodily injury then you could be charged with both aggravated assault and battery. Aggravated assault shows reckless conduct or an extreme indifference to human life.

For example, if you act like you’re going to hit somebody but you stop short of hitting them, you might be charged with simple assault. If you’re driving around recklessly in a crosswalk nearly running people over, that would certainly be an aggravated assault.

The difference between simple assault and aggravated assault has to do with how reckless the behavior was. Aggravated assault refers to knowingly and recklessly doing something that shows extreme indifference to human life and could cause great bodily injury to another person.

Obviously, if you assault a law enforcement officer, you’re going to put yourself in a much more difficult position because not only will you be charged with assault or aggravated assault, you could also be charged with other crimes depending on what the scenario is.

There are certain charges that relate only to police officers, but if you’re doing anything to a police officer that would be a crime if you did it to another citizen, it won’t necessarily be charged differently. However, the prosecutors are going to be looking at your criminal activity much more seriously due to their friendly relationship with the police.

Use Of A Weapon Enhancing Charges To Felony

Anytime you’re using a weapon to commit an assault or any other type of crime, the prosecutors are usually going to add an enhancement to the charge.

In California, for example, using a gun to commit a robbery will result in a 10-year enhancement to the robbery charge. That means that 10 years can be added to the sentence if you’re convicted.

Assault with a deadly weapon is a serious crime in its own right, and you would be charged with that crime under Penal Code Section 245(a) as well as a special allegation related to your use of a weapon.

For example, if you fire a weapon and hit somebody there’s a 25-year special allegation for that. Anytime you use a weapon to commit a crime it’s going to be a serious charge and you’re going to be facing multiple years in prison.

Penalties For Conviction Of Aggravated Assault

If you are charged with aggravated assault, the case will typically be charged as a felony and you will likely be looking at prison time. Whether you get prison time or probation depends on how serious your conduct was and whether you have a prior criminal record.

The more serious the crime, the longer you’re looking at in prison. Even if you do get probation on a felony charge you’re looking at up to a year in Los Angeles County Jail.

Aggravated assault is serious business. If you’re charged with this crime or other crimes associated with it, you’re going to want to contact an attorney right away. Make sure the attorney gets your full story so they can start making some moves on your behalf to do damage control and put you in the best possible position.

You will likely be required to pay restitution if you caused any damage to another person. For example, if somebody loses a significant amount of money because of actions you took, then the prosecutors believe it’s their job to make sure that the person is compensated.

In Los Angeles County, anybody convicted of a crime is also going to have to pay what’s called a victim’s restitution fund. Los Angeles County collects money for victims of crime and each criminal defendant who gets convicted pays into that fund.

There are alternative programs, but they’re only available in unique situations. Aggravated assault is conduct that can seriously injure somebody, conduct that shows disregard for others.

Judges and prosecutors obviously don’t like that and they punish that type of behavior severely. You would have to show that your conduct was an aberration and that it falls outside the range of behavior that the aggravated assault penalties are designed to protect against.

Your attorney would be the one to argue that on your behalf in order to put you in the best position. You may be able to avoid going to jail or prison and try to get a deferred entry of the judgment or other related program.

Possible Defenses To Aggravated Assault Charges

What you need to do is sit down with an attorney who is qualified to handle this type of offense and give them all the information. That doesn’t mean the information that you think is relevant or that you think might help you – you’ve got to give them “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

You’ve got to make sure that the attorney has a full picture of what actually happened in your criminal case. Of course, there are defenses to an aggravated assault charge – there are defenses to any criminal charge – but your attorney can’t pull those defenses out of thin air.

The defenses come from the facts and circumstances of the case. That’s why it’s important to give your criminal defense attorney a full account of what happened so they can argue on your behalf and make sure that every single aspect of your case is looked at. If you do have a defense, you want to make sure that it is asserted.

Any time you do talk to the police, you want to have your attorney there. You want to have discussed what you’re going to talk about with your attorney, especially if it’s a very serious offense like an aggravated assault. You and your attorney are going to have to make a mutual decision that you want to talk to the police because you believe it’s in your best interest.

You’re going to want to establish what benefit you may get if you talk. In Los Angeles County and state cases, cooperating with the police is almost never a good idea. They don’t really have a system set up for people to cooperate. Cooperation is more likely to be beneficial in a federal setting than in a state setting.

Any time you’re going to speak to police you want to have your attorney there, but I would say that most of the time it’s a bad idea to talk to the police. If you’re in doubt, you obviously want to make sure that you don’t say anything. Tell the police you’d feel more comfortable if your attorney was present.

What Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Do To Help Me?

The most important thing that a criminal defense attorney can do if you’re facing a serious charge such as aggravated assault is to make sure that your side of the story is heard by the police, the prosecutors, the judge, and the jury.

They are going to be your voice and they will act as a buffer between you and law enforcement. They will make sure that you are treated fairly. They are going to be the ones to assert all your rights and to make sure that you get a not guilty verdict if that’s what you deserve.

If you have a case where you have done something wrong they’re going to be the ones to negotiate with the prosecutors and bring up all the mitigating factors related to you and your circumstances. In other words, they’re going to be your champion.

If you’re charged with aggravated assault you should hire a criminal defense attorney, arm them with complete and accurate information, and then let them execute the plan so that you can get out of the criminal justice system as quickly as possible while protecting and preserving your rights, your freedom and your reputation.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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