Los Angeles Downtown Skyline

Available Defenses in a Southern California Assault Case

There are a few possible defenses available when a person has been charged with Assault under California Penal Code §240.

Failure to meet requisite elements

Prosecutor’s must prove that each element to prove assault must be met beyond a reasonable doubt. The person must have made an unlawful attempt, had the present ability to cause harm to another, and had the intent to cause violent injury on the person of another.

If the prosecutor cannot prove the elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the charge cannot go forward. It is also the job of the defense attorney to weaken prosecution’s argument and cast doubt on the evidence presented.

Self-Defense

If the requisite elements are met beyond a reasonable doubt, but the person being charged was protecting themselves, then they may have a valid self defense claim. For a person to assert self defense, they must have used a reasonable amount of force to protect themselves. For example, if Person A attempts to hit person B with their hand, and Person B attempts to hit back with a knife, there is not a reasonable amount of force used to qualify as self defense.

In comparison, if Person A hits Person B with their fist, and Person B swings back with their fist, Person B has a valid claim for self defense. For self defense to be successful, they must also demonstrate that they had a reasonable fear of being injured.

For example, Person A hits Person B. Person B walks away, and comes back 10 minutes later and hits Person A. Although there is reasonable force, the facts indicate that Person B could not reasonably believe that Person A would cause them harm because they had hit them over ten minutes ago and Person B had safely walked away. When self defense is asserted successfully, it may lead to the charges being dismissed.

Southern California Assault Charge

California Penal Code §240 defines assault and it’s elements. The statute defines assault as “ an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.

An unlawful attempt

The person needs to only attempt harm, he does not have to succeed. For example, Dan swings his fist at Victor with the intent to hit him in the face, but misses. This can still be charged as an assault because it was an attempt to harm and did not need to be an actual harm.

Coupled with a present ability

There must be an actual ability to harm the other, and intent to do so. If person A swings at B and misses, it can be charged as an assault, if it is shown that A had the intent to harm B. If person A is a 20 year old kid that weighs about 100 pounds ,and person B is a 45 year old construction worker who weighs close to 200, there is an argument against assault. Person A may have intended to hit B, but there is no actual ability for A to harm person B.

To commit a violent injury on the person of another

There must be the intent to commit a violent injury and not otherwise. For example, person A from one end of a bar gets angry at person B and breaks a beer bottle over the table. There will not be a valid assault charge because there is no intent to commit a violent injury on the person of another. Person A merely broke a beer bottle in anger towards person B. This does manifest the attempt to actually harm or cause violent injury to another.

All three elements described in the relevant statute must be present before a person can be convicted of assault.

Potential Consequences

California Penal Code §240 outlines the range of potential consequences that may be imposed on a person that is convicted of an assault charge in California.

What the final sentence is depends on the specific facts of the case, and the prior criminal history of the person being charged. If the person has been convicted for several violations similar to an assault, the Judge will impose a higher penalty under the notion that the defendant is not taking the criminal charges seriously. If the facts of the case indicate a potential for extreme violence the penalty will be higher along the range.

Potential jail sentence

The relevant Penal Code section allows for a jail sentence; upon the conviction of a California assault case, from anywhere between zero to six months in county jail. If there is prior history, and/or particularly violent actions in the case, the person will be sentenced closer to six months in county jail.

Potential imposed fines

California Penal Code §240 allows for the Judge to impose up to $1,000.00 in fines for a person who is convicted of assault. It is important to remember that these fines will have additional fees and assessments, which generally end up doubling or tripling the fine. So a fine that is close to $1,000.00 may end up being closer to $3,000.00.

There is much room for negotiation when it comes to the final sentence. Evidence and powerful arguments may be presented to assure that any potential sentence remains towards the lower end of the spectrum and more importantly, does not involve any jail time.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
I can't begin to thank Mr. Hoffman enough for his extensive efforts throughout the entire case. He went absolutely above and beyond throughout the entire process. From day one he was immediately actively pursuing ways to prevent my case from ever going to court and once that was no longer an option, actively began working on getting the case ultimately dismissed. His communication was consistent and reassuring, despite my frantic worries all the time... Micaiah Botts
★★★★★
My family and I simply owe our life and future to Ron Hoffman. If you are looking for a lawyer that goes above and beyond the call of duty you can't find a better lawyer than Ron. He took my case head on from the moment I called his office. I was involved in an accidental hit and run where I was unaware of the injury. Every step of the way, Ron guided me through an almost two year long investigation and court settlement process and was constantly by my side through out every crossroad... Bill Martin
★★★★★
Ron Hoffman and his staff were Fantastic when dealing with such a serious issue of DUI. When I first Called Ron I was very nervous and worried for my daughter and her freedom. She had a failure to appear on top of her DUI and I knew just how bad this could be. Ron was able to immediately put me at ease and gave me the confidence that there was hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. Ron was able to get the failure to appear dismissed and also no jail time for my daughter... Claude Brown
★★★★★
I have been working with Mr. Hoffman for over 11 years. I have seen first hand his genuine dedication to his clients, and how his experience, knowledge and passion have gotten clients fantastic results. He treats each of his clients as his only client, and takes the time to develop detailed strategies and defenses for each individual case. I have never hesitated to refer Mr. Hoffman to anyone who has asked me for a good Criminal Defense attorney. He is a fantastic attorney!... Neeta P.
★★★★★
I had a DUI issue recently. I have never had a problem with the law as serious as this one. I did panic a bit after and knew I had to get a lawyer to help my future. I researched the Web and read the reviews for awesome DUI Lawyers. Hiring a lawyer can be intimidating. Ron's 30 years experience and step by step guidance helped me with my case. Jonie was amazing with keeping me calm. Ron Hoffman is a great lawyer and I would refer any friends or family to him... Manuel Gomez
★★★★★
Ron was so accommodating and professional. With a Firm like his you wouldn't expect him to be as accessible, but he immediately returned phone calls, was easy to communicate with and was very sympathetic to my situation. He went above and beyond and was able to get a better result than I'd hoped or expected. I highly recommend Ron Hoffman and his firm. He made a difficult and anxiety fueled process bearable and made me feel safe. He is a lovely man. One does not wish to need a criminal attorney, but if you do need one, Ron's the guy to call... Teri A.
★★★★★
Ron and his team were the perfect pairing for what I needed taken care of. Every step of the way he was extremely helpful and informative (not his first rodeo). His work ethic and attitude were exemplary and it showed with the results of using his services. I would recommend anyone I know to give Ron a call if they need help in his realm of expertise. Many thanks Ron and associates!... Donald N.
★★★★★
I didn't hire a lawyer for my first DUI... What a mistake! Ronald goes above and beyond with his art and knowledge of custom strategy according to your case. lawyer of the year (every year)... Adam R.
★★★★★
I hate lawyers. They are hard to get a hold of, greedy and unreliable. Ron is the opposite of all these things. He deserves 6 stars, and I very much recommend him. He helped me through my case with nothing but kindness, understanding, and knowledge and eventually got it dropped. Thanks for everything Ron!... Avi Z.