February 29, 2024 By Paul Wallin

If You Are Accused Of An Assault Charge In California Can You Make A Winnable Self-Defense Argument? “What is “Justifiable Force”? Penal Code Section 245

Before we dive into the specifics of California’s PC 245, we must lay the groundwork by exploring the concept of self-defense in assault cases. It is a fundamental right—both a moral instinct and a legal principle—to protect oneself when faced with imminent harm. However, the law mandates a fine line; the use of force must be deemed “justifiable” and proportionate to the threat. Determining what constitutes justifiable force is critical, and this is where the Penal Code Section 245 comes into play, offering the adjudication framework for self-defense in California.

Choosing a Wallin & Klarich attorney to represent you if you are facing assault charges in Southern California will put you in a better position to win your case. We have over 40 years of experience representing cases like yours in Southern California. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL for your free consultation!

What is Assault?

Assault occurs when one person intentionally and unlawfully threatens to harm another person with a display of force or violence, causing the other person to fear for their safety. In this context, assault does not require physical contact; it is simply the act of making someone fear that they will be physically harmed.

What is Battery?

In California, “battery” is defined under California PC 242 as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. Unlike assault which involves an attempt to use force, battery requires actual use of force. It’s important to note that physical contact does not need to cause pain or injury, and even the slightest offensive touching can constitute battery if it is done in a rude or angry manner. The offense can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the circumstances and whether the victim sustains serious injuries.

California Penal Code Section 245

California Penal Code Section 245, or PC 245, makes it a felony crime to assault a person with substantial force or to do so while using a deadly weapon. It delineates the thresholds for justifiable force, assuring that citizens have the right to protect themselves but also imposes stringent criteria that must be met to successfully claim self-defense under the law.

The law identifies distinct scenarios where the use of force can be considered justified, including fending off an attacker wielding a deadly weapon, defending one’s home or business from intrusion, and preventing violent felonies such as rape or robbery. The crux is establishing that the accused individual’s response was immediately necessary to prevent the intended harm and was proportionate to the threat.

Elements of PC 245

To invoke PC 245 effectively as a defense, several critical elements must be demonstrated. They include but are not limited to:

  1. The Belief in Imminent Harm: The accused must genuinely believe that they were about to suffer injury or harm, which should be reasonable considering the circumstances.
  2. The Use of Reasonable Force: The degree of force used must be in line with what a reasonable person would employ in a similar projected threat. Overly aggressive or pre-emptive actions can nullify a claim of self-defense.
  3. Protection From Specific Harms: The force utilized must be clearly directed to defend against physical harm, assault, battery, or the commission of a felony.
  4. Confining Defense to the Necessity: The physical response must be necessitated at the specific moment in which the threat occurs. A delayed response is likely to make a self-defense claim more difficult to succeed. 

Understanding these requirements to successfully employ a self-defense defense can significantly bolster the defense’s case, potentially leading to a dismissal of the charges or a not guilty verdict.

Penalties for Violating PC 245

For those found guilty of violating PC 245, the legal ramifications can be severe. The penalties may vary based on the specifics of the case, such as whether a firearm, a weapon of mass destruction, or a specified explosive device was used. The gravity of the injury inflicted on the victim, if any, can also dramatically alter the sentencing.

Individuals convicted under PC 245 can face a range of consequences, including but not limited to imprisonment, hefty fines, and the potential loss of certain civil rights. Furthermore, a conviction for assault can have profound personal and professional repercussions, affecting everything from job prospects to familial relations.

Legal Representation and Defense Strategies

Navigating an assault case, especially when self-defense is invoked, necessitates seasoned legal representation. A skilled defense attorney can critically examine the circumstances, gather pertinent evidence, and construct a defense strategy that resonates with the principles outlined in PC 245.

Common defense tactics involve proving the non-aggressor status of the defendant, challenging the prosecution’s account of the events, and providing context to the actions taken. For example, demonstrating a history of violent behavior from the accuser or supporting details from witnesses can significantly sway the case in the defendant’s favor.

The aim of the defense is not solely to prove innocence but to invoke the protection offered by self-defense laws and ensure that any penalties faced are commensurate with the level of involvement. Hiring a law firm like Wallin and Klarich will assure that you have a highly experienced criminal defense team fighting for your innocence. Having a skilled PC 245 lawyer on your side could lead to your charges being dismissed.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today!

If you are facing assault or battery charges, you need an aggressive attorney to fight for your freedom. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients win their cases or get their charges reduced to a lesser degree. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible result in your case.

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and years of freedom. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to avoid prison. We have offices in Tustin, Pasadena, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Torrance, Victorville, West Covina, Anaheim, and Irvine.
Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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