Most people know that crimes are charged as misdemeanors or felonies in California. However, what many people do not know is that a great number of criminal offenses are considered “wobbler” offenses, which means they can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case.
The crime of assault is one of those crimes. Let’s explore when assault is a felony and when it is a misdemeanor.
Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault
Under California Penal Code Section 240, assault is defined as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” This means that if you made an attempt to injure someone and you had the ability to do so at the time of the attempt, you committed a “simple assault.”
An assault becomes “aggravated” through several means. First, if the assault involves a weapon – such as a firearm, knife or any object that could be considered a weapon (such as a baseball bat) – you can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon under PC 245(a).
You also commit aggravated assault if the amount of force you used in the assault would likely have caused great bodily injury to the other person if you had successfully committed the crime.
For example, let’s say you attempted to push someone down a flight of stairs, but the person dodged your attempt and you never made contact with his or her body. This could be charged as aggravated assault because he or she would have fallen down the stairs and likely have sustained great bodily injury if your attempt was successful.
Penalties for Assault
Assault under PC 240 is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. If you committed assault on a peace officer, the penalties are up to 364 days in county jail and $2,000 in fines.
Under PC 245, aggravated assault is a wobbler offense. If charged as a misdemeanor, it carries the same penalties as simple assault. If charged as a felony, you face up to four years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. A felony conviction of aggravated assault also could result in a strike being added to your record under California’s Three Strikes law.
Contact the Assault Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Whether you are charged with simple or aggravated assault, you are in for a tough legal fight. That is why you should not hesitate to contact an experienced assault defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich. Our skilled assault lawyers have more than 40 years of experience successfully defending clients charged with assault. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will use every legal defense strategy available to help you obtain you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich assault defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our law firm today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.