California law can be complicated when it comes to possible punishment for the crime of assault. This is because the offense of assault is a “wobbler,” or a crime that can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending upon the circumstances. As with other types of crimes, the defendant’s prior record may also be relevant during sentencing if the defendant is convicted or pleads guilty. If you have been accused of assault and have prior criminal convictions, you need an assertive criminal defense lawyer to protect your legal rights. Riverside and San Bernardino assault defense attorney Gregory H. Comings has been representing those accused of assault and other crimes for over a decade, and he is here to help you defend your rights.
Typically, an assault charge arises when someone attempts to commit a violent injury on another person but does not actually make physical contact with the intended victim. If the alleged assault involved a deadly weapon, such as a knife, it is likely that the defendant will be charged with felony assault rather than misdemeanor simple assault. Under California Penal Code § 240, even a simple assault – such as throwing a punch but missing the intended target – can result in a fine of up to $1000 dollars and several months in the county jail. Felony assault, or assault when the defendant already has a criminal record, can result in much more severe punishment, including the possibility of several years in the state penitentiary.
In addition to the likelihood of lengthy incarceration, a hefty fine, and other punishment, a person who is convicted of misdemeanor or felony assault in violation of California criminal law also faces other, sometimes even more long-ranging consequences. This includes possible difficulties in finding work – especially in certain fields. For example, when a job applicant seeking a position working directly with the public has to answer “yes” to an application question about past criminal convictions, the potential employer may pass over that applicant out of fear that a person who has been convicted of assault might have a quick temper that could lead to altercations with customers and even a liability claim should a fight break out.
As with other crimes, there are several possible defenses to a charge of assault, even with prior convictions. Generally speaking, the defendant’s past convictions cannot be used by the State of California to prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of which he or she is accused, but a defendant’s past convictions can be used in seeking an enhanced punishment under California law. Thus, a strong defense is necessary when the accused has been convicted of previous crimes. Possible defenses to the crime of assault include self-defense, defense of another person, and/or mistaken identity (the attacker was someone other than the defendant). Constitutional defenses may also be available if physical evidence against the defendant was seized in violation of his or her 4th Amendment rights or a confession was secured using tactics in violation of the defendant’s 5th Amendment right to remain silent or 6th Amendment right to counsel.
At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we aggressively defend those accused of assault, domestic violence, drug offenses, felony DUI, sex offenses, and white collar crimes. We strongly believe that, if the State of California cannot meet its burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant should not be convicted of a crime. If the State seeks to introduce illegally obtained evidence, we will fight hard to have that evidence excluded from the jury’s consideration at trial under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. To schedule a consultation about how a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help with your Riverside or San Bernardino assault case or other charge, call us now at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online. Our goal is to always be straightforward with our clients, working to achieve the best outcome under the circumstances, whether that be a dismissal of all charges, a reduction in the charges against the defendant, or a plea bargain for a lighter sentence.