Under the California Penal Code 217.1 (a) PC, it is unlawful to commit a crime of assault on a public official. Generally, a crime of simple assault attracts misdemeanor charges under California law. However, if you commit assault on a public official, you may face felony charges for the crime. If you are facing an assault on a public official charge in San Jose, the California Criminal Lawyer Group can help you to fight the charges.
Overview of Assault on a Public Official
For you to face charges for assault on a public official, the prosecutor has to prove several elements of the crime. First, the prosecutor must prove that you committed an assault. The prosecutor must prove that you committed the assault against a public official or a member of the public official's close family. The prosecutor must finally prove that your motive for committing the assault was to prevent the official from executing his/her official duties.
What is Assault?
You may be guilty of assault if you attempt to commit a violent injury on another person. You do not need to execute the assault to face charges. As long as the prosecutor proves that you attempted to assault a public official and you had the ability to execute the assault, you may face charges.
To accuse you of assault, the prosecutor has to prove that you attempted to do something that would have resulted in the application of force on another person. It must be evident that you committed the act willfully or on purpose. It must also be evident that under the circumstances, you were aware that your actions would make a reasonable person believe that your actions would lead to the application of force.
For the purpose of the crime of assault, the application of force means any offensive or harmful touching. If you rudely touch a public official, you may face an assault on a public official charge even if you did not inflict physical harm on the official. Even if the touch involved did not cause any discomfort on the public official, you might still face assault charges. It is important to note that you do not have to touch the public official directly. You may use an object like a stick to touch a public official and still face assault charges.
It is also important to note that you do not need to have succeeded in applying force on a public official to face assault charges. As long as you took an action that may have resulted in the application of force on a public official, you may face assault charges. To face an assault on a public official charge, it must be evident that you acted willfully. Acting on purpose/ willfully does not mean that you intended to break the law or that you intended to hurt the public official. Acting on purpose/willfully does not also mean that you intended to gain any advantage by assaulting the victim. It means that you were aware that your actions would lead to the application of force on a public official.
It is common for people to use the terms assault and battery interchangeably. Many people assume that the crime of assault and the crime of battery are one and the same thing. However, there is a difference. Assault means that your actions were likely to inflict physical harm on a public official. However, if you successfully inflict harm on a public official, you may face battery charges. Assault does not have to involve any physical contact between you and the public official. However, a battery has to include physical contact with the public official.
Who is a Public Official?
The California Penal Code 217.1 (a) PC outlines several persons who may qualify as public officials. A public official may include the president of the United States or the vice president. Any governor of any state in the U.S or a governor of any territory in the United States is a protected person. A present or a former judge or juror of the local justice, state, or federal government is a protected person. Any director or secretary of any state or federal executive agency is a protected person. A subordinate judicial officer, judicial referee, or judicial commissioner is a protected person. Other protected persons under the California law include present or former prosecutors, present or former public defenders, and any state or federal elected official. City council members, mayors, sheriff, peace officer, county supervisors, or municipal chiefs of police qualify as protected persons.
It is important to note that the immediate family of the above mentioned protected persons also qualifies as protected persons. Therefore, you may not directly assault a public official. However, as long as you assault his/her immediate family members, you will face charges for assault on a public official.
In a case of assault on a public official, the motive is an essential element. It must be evident that the motive for assaulting a public official was to prevent the official from executing his/her duties. Therefore, if the assault has nothing to do with the prevention of the public official from performing his/her duties, you may not face an assault on a public official charge. However, you may still face normal assault charges. You may also face charges for assault with a deadly weapon under California law.
Penalties for Assault on a Public Official
Under California law, the crime of assault on a public official under Penal Code 217.1 (a) PC is a wobbler offense. This means that the prosecutor has the choice of charging the offense as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Whether the prosecutor charges the offense as a misdemeanor or felony will depend on a number of factors. The factors include the nature of your offense or the facts surrounding your offense. When deciding whether to charge you with a felony or misdemeanor, the prosecutor may also consider your credit history. For instance, the prosecutor may consider whether you have committed assault offenses before.
If the prosecutor attached misdemeanor charges to your crime of assault on a public official, you would face several penalties. Some of the penalties for misdemeanor assault on a public official include:
Misdemeanor/ Summary Probation- The court may recommend as misdemeanor probation. This probation serves as an alternative to jail time. It allows you to serve part of your entire sentence under court supervision instead of serving a sentence in jail. California misdemeanor probation also goes by the name of informal or summary probation.
In California, misdemeanor probation may last for one year to three years. However, the probation may last for up to five years, depending on the decision of the court. While you are on probation, the law requires you to comply with set conditions. For instance, the court may require you to attend counseling while on probation. The court may also need you to perform community labor or to pay restitution to the victim. Paying restitution entails compensating the victim for any loss that he/she may have suffered due to the assault. For instance, the public official may have suffered shock due to the assault forcing him to seek counseling. The court may require you to pay for the counseling fees because if it were not for the assault, the public official would not have needed to seek counseling.
Any person convicted of a misdemeanor offense may receive a misdemeanor probation sentence. The purpose of misdemeanor probation is to protect the public, rehabilitate the offender, and to restore the victim. In most cases, the court may recommend misdemeanor probation if you commit a first-time offense or in the case of juvenile offenders. It is possible for repeat offenders to receive misdemeanor probation. It all depends on how the judge assesses the situation and the facts surrounding the offenses. If you have an experienced criminal defense attorney, the attorney may increase your chances of receiving a misdemeanor summary probation instead of jail time.
How do you receive an informal probation sentencing instead of jail time? In most cases, you get informal probation when the prosecutor and your attorney agree. In most cases, misdemeanor probation is part of a plea bargain. In other instances, the judge may recommend misdemeanor probation during sentencing. Usually, informal probation does not include jail time. However, this is not always a guarantee; however, even if you get misdemeanor probation and jail time, the jail time will be much shorter.
Can you reject misdemeanor probation? Yes, it is possible to reject misdemeanor probation. You may prefer to serve a sentence, which may be much shorter compared to serving misdemeanor probation for a period of three years. If a defendant does not want misdemeanor probation, a judge cannot impose the probation on the defendant. With the help of your attorney, you can make a decision on whether it makes sense to reject misdemeanor probation or not.
Jail time- The court may also recommend jail time instead of probation. For misdemeanor assault on a public official, you may serve jail time that does not exceed one year in a California county jail.
Fines- For misdemeanor assault on a public official, the court may require you to pay a fine that does not exceed $1,000.
Felony Assault on a Public Official
In other instances, the court will charge you with felony charges for attacking a public official. You may face several penalties for felony assault on a public official. The charges include:
Formal Felony Probation – Felony probation serves as an alternative to imprisonment in a California state prison. Once convicted of a felony in California, felony probation allows you to serve your sentence out of prison instead of being locked in state prison. However, you have to adhere to the conditions of probation imposed on you by the probation officer or by the judge. If you violate the terms of probation, the judge may choose to revoke your probation and recommend jail time. In case of revocation of felony probation, you would have to proceed to a California state prison to serve your sentence.
During sentencing, the judge has a legal right to execute imprisonment, which may vary in the number of years depending on the facts of your offense. The judge may also choose to give you a break by imposing felony/formal probation. If you receive probation, the judge may choose to suspend the execution. In this case, you would have to comply with all terms of probation for the suspended execution to hold. The judge may, at times, place you in felony probation without recommending any prison sentence yet.
Felony probation for assault on a public official is different from misdemeanor probation for assault on a public official. For felony probation, the judge obtains a probation report from the county probation office prior to the sentencing. However, in misdemeanor cases, the judge does not have to obtain a probation report. In addition, while serving felony probation, the court will assign you a probation officer to monitor your progress. The probation officer will also ensure that you comply with the terms of probation. However, while serving misdemeanor probation, you will not have a probation officer. Instead, you will have to return to court periodically to file a progress report to the judge.
Imprisonment- If you commit felony assault on a public official, you may face imprisonment in a California state prison. The term of imprisonment may vary depending on the nature of your offense and the decision of the judge. You may serve imprisonment for sixteen months or two years. You may also serve jail time of three years in a county jail in accordance with California's realignment program.
Fines- Upon committing felony assault on a public official, the court may require you to pay hefty fines. You may pay hefty fines of up to $10,000 for committing a felony assault on a public official.
Assault on a Public Official Charges
If you are facing charges for assault on a public official, you may adopt several defense strategies to fight the charges. With proper defense, the court may reduce your charges to a lesser charge through a plea bargain. The court may also dismiss your charges if your attorney proves that you are innocent. Some of the common legal defenses to a crime of assault on public officials include:
You Did Not Have the Present Ability to Inflict a Violent Injury
One of the elements of the crime of assault on a public official is that at the time of committing the offense, the defendant should have had the present ability to inflict an injury. While assaulting a public official, you may use harsh words and harsh gestures. You may even attempt to injure the public official. However, you cannot face charges unless you have the present ability to injure the public official. When can you use this defense strategy? You can assert a lack of ability to inflict injury if the victim is much stronger than you are, younger, or bigger. Your attorney may also negotiate for a reduction of your charges from Penal Code 217.1 (a) charges to a crime of disturbing the peace under Penal Code 415 PC.
You Did Not Intend to Retaliate or Prevent the Official from Performing Public Duties
The motive of assaulting a public official is essential while determining the charges you receive for the crime. For you to face charges for assault on a public official, it must be evident that you intended to prevent the official from performing his/her legal duties. However, if you assault a public for any other reason other than stopping him/her from performing official duties, you may not face an assault on a public official charge. Instead, you may be guilty of the crime of simple assault.
You Acted in Self Defense or Defense of another Person
You may face a charge for assault on a public official while trying to defend yourself from a violent public official. You may also have been trying to defend another person from harm while you assaulted a public official. It is common for prosecutors and other law enforcement officers to believe that their kind can never be guilty of any harm. To use this evidence, it must be evident that you believed that you or the other person was at risk of imminent danger or an unlawful touch. It must also be evident that you did not use more force than was necessary under the circumstances to defend yourself or another person from imminent harm.
With the help of an attorney, you can fight the assault on a public official charge if you feel that you were wrongly accused. A crime of assault can be tricky because it does not require the victim to suffer any physical harm. You may face assault charges even if a victim does not suffer any harm. Therefore, it is easy for a public official to accuse you of assault wrongly. You do not have to suffer charges when you feel that you are innocent. With the help of a criminal defense attorney, you can fight the evidence presented against you in court.
Several crimes are closely related to the crime of assault on a public official. The court may charge you for these offenses alongside assault on a public official. The court may also reduce your charges from assault on a public official to a lessor related crime. Some of the related offenses include:
The California Penal Code 240PC outlines the crime of simple assault. Under California law, it is a misdemeanor offense to attempt to commit a violent injury on another person. You may face charges for simple assault if you commit an act that is likely to result in the application of force on another person. It must be evident that you committed the act willfully or on purpose. At the time of committing an unlawful act, you must have been aware that the act would result in the application of force on another person. At the time of committing the act, you must have had the ability to apply force to another person.
Under California law, the crime of simple assault is a misdemeanor. The associated penalties for simple assault may include serving jail time that does not exceed six months in a California county jail. The court may also require you to pay a fine that does not exceed $1,000.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
You may face charges for assault with a deadly weapon if you commit an assault using a deadly weapon like a knife or a gun. The California Penal Code 245 (a) (1) outlines the crime of assault with a deadly weapon. You may also face charges under Penal Code 245 (a) (1) if you use other means of force that are likely to produce great bodily injury to assault another person.
Under California law, a crime of assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler offense meaning that the crime may either attract misdemeanor or felony charges. For misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, you may face imprisonment of up to one year in county jail. If the court charges attack with a deadly weapon as a felony, you may face longer imprisonment in a California state prison. The imprisonment term may vary from two years, three years, or four years depending on the facts surrounding your case.
Disturbing the Peace
The California Penal Code 415 PC sets out the crime of disturbing the peace. It is an offense under California law to fight another person in public. Other offenses under penal code 415 PC include making disturbing noise in public. The law also makes it illegal to direct provocative fighting words towards another person. Under California law, disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor offense. For a conviction of disturbing the peace, you may face jail time of up to ninety days in a California county jail.
Contact a San Jose Criminal Attorney Near Me
If you are currently facing charges for assault on a public official, it is important to ensure that you seek legal representation. An attorney can help you to fight the charges in court. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, our attorneys have vast experience in handling assault cases. Contact us at 408-622-0204 and speak to one of our attorneys today.
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