Under California’s assault law, Penal Code § 240, an assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another. Simple assault is a misdemeanor in California.

To prove that someone is guilty of assault, the People must prove:

The defendant did an act that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person; the defendant did that act willfully; when the defendant acted, he or she was aware of the facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that his or her act by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to someone; when the defendant acted, he or she had the present ability to apply force to a person; and the defendant did not act in self-defense or in the defense of someone else.

The punishment for assault, according to Penal Code § 241, is a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or both the fine and imprisonment. Punishments for assault can vary depending on whom the assault was committed against and where the assault occurred. When an assault is committed against a teacher, peace officer, firefighter, or occurs in a public place such as a school or park, or on public transportation, like a bus or train, the penalties can be substantially more severe if convicted.

Assault and battery are two separate, different crimes. Assault is an attempt to injure an individual. Battery, however, under Penal Code § 242, is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. Battery requires the actual use of unlawful force.

If you are under investigation for assault or have been arrested, contact Bay Area Criminal Lawyers, PC, as soon as possible. A skilled attorney will be ready to take your case and will be aware of the defenses that can be utilized on your behalf. We understand your situation, whether you were wrongfully or falsely accused of assault, you acted in self-defense or on someone else’s behalf, or did not act with the intent required. To protect your legal rights, freedom, and future, it is important you seek the best legal guidance from an experienced attorney.