Aggravated Assault Lawyer in Orange County
If you hear the word “aggravated” as part of a criminal charge, it spells trouble.
Aggravated crimes involve circumstances that increase the severity of the crime. Some examples include the use of a firearm or other deadly weapon, if bodily injuries were suffered by the victim, or whether or not the victim belongs to a “protected class” such as children or the elderly.
An arrest and charge for aggravated assault can land you in jail or even prison, as it is an “upgraded” form of assault. Even if you escape jail time, the consequences of a conviction on your future are likely to be very harsh as the California justice system takes a very dim view of violent crimes.
A bad mistake made in the heat of the moment can be serious but it should not cost you your future rights and freedoms.
Therefore, it is extremely important to contact an experienced aggravated assault defense attorney as soon as possible after being arrested.
The legal team at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian in Orange County has extensive experience in defending aggravated assault cases in Southern California. We will do everything possible to ensure that a momentary error of judgment does not have long-lasting consequences.
Aggravated assault vs. simple assault
Simple assault in California is where someone intentionally attempts to injure a person or to place them in imminent fear of bodily harm (CPC 240).
Note that no injury needs to be caused for a person to be charged with a simple assault crime. This is also true as it applies to aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault charges in California
Aggravated assault is one of the most frequently charged assault offenses in California.
The most common difference between aggravated assault and simple assault is that a firearm, a deadly weapon, or by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury is used.
In fact, you may hear aggravated assault termed as “assault with a deadly weapon” or “ADW” for short. However, there are other associated types of aggravated assault crimes in California.
You may also face aggravated assault charges for an assault on a peace or police officer, according to California law.
The California Penal Code lists several types of assault crimes, which are very serious:
- CPC 245(a)(1) is assault with a deadly weapon;
- CPC 245(a)(2) is assault with a firearm;
- CPC 245(a)(3) is assault with a machine gun or assault rifle;
- CPC 245(a)(4) is assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury;
The following is a little more detailed approach to the various types of aggravated assault charges:
Assault with a deadly weapon (Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC)
When most people think of a deadly weapon, they think of a knife, gun, or something traditionally used to kill someone. However, in California, a deadly weapon is anything that can be used to inflict serious injury or take someone’s life.
Theoretically, then, almost anything can be considered a deadly weapon under CPC 245.
Even though it is commonly referred to as “assault with a deadly weapon”, you do not actually have to use a weapon to be found guilty of the offense. One simply needs to use force likely to produce great bodily injury in order to sustain a conviction for this offense.
Assault with a firearm (Penal Code 245(a)(2) and (a)(3) PC)
Assault with a firearm is a separate charge to assault with a deadly weapon in California, which is defined by CPC 245(a)(2) and (a)(3).
You can be charged with this offense if you are accused of assaulting a victim by using any of the following firearms:
- Semi-automatic firearm,
- Machine gun, or
- Assault weapon.
An assault may consist of simply pointing the firearm at the victim. Alternatively, the assault may include striking a victim with a gun, firing it, or shooting the victim.
Assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury (Penal Code 245(a)(4) PC)
In California, the fourth type of aggravated assault charge is an assault that is committed on another person by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
In the commission of this crime of assault, the perpetrator may not even need to physically connect force with the targeted victim. Simply using such force that could produce great bodily injury, if the force did connect with the victim, and having the present ability to do so, would suffice to satisfy the elements of this crime.
Obviously, should the targeted victim suffer physical force that could or did produce great bodily injury, this would also be sufficient to satisfy the elements of the crime of CPC 245(a)(4).
Assault with caustic chemicals (Penal Code 244 PC)
Under CPC 244, it is a crime to willfully and maliciously place, throw or cause to be thrown any caustic chemical, corrosive substance, flammable substance, or vitriol onto someone else with the intent to injure or disfigure the other person.
Note that to convict someone of assault with caustic chemicals, the chemicals must touch the other person’s body. With other types of aggravated assault charges, attempting to injure or touch another person is sufficient.
Assault with caustic chemicals is charged as a felony in California.
Assault on a peace or police officer (Penal Code 241 PC)
Any assault on a police or peace officer in California may be charged as an aggravated assault crime.
This charge is detailed under CPC 241(c) and covers assaults on any public safety responder performing official duties. This includes firefighters, lifeguards, process servers, traffic officers, emergency medical personnel, and others.
A conviction for this charge requires that the defendant knew (or should have known) that the victim was a public servant.
What happens if you are charged with aggravated assault in Orange County?
There is a great emphasis within our justice system on prosecuting violent offenses to the full extent of the law.
Crimes of violence are considered more serious than other offenses. While simple assault is usually charged as a misdemeanor in California, aggravated assault is more serious. It is often charged as a felony (although some aggravated assault crimes can be “wobblers”).
The associated penalties for an aggravated assault conviction in California vary widely, depending on the circumstances:
- An assault with a deadly weapon that was not carried out with a firearm or a vehicle can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony (known as a wobbler).
- A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail, while punishment for a felony can be up to four years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If a firearm is involved, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of not less than six months in county jail if the offense is charged as a misdemeanor.
- If it is charged as a felony, the offense is punishable by two, three, or four years, or even up to 12 years in state prison (if an assault weapon was used). There may also be a fine of up to $10,000.
- If a gang element was involved in the offense, a conviction can result in a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Aggravated Assault Conviction
|A misdemeanor conviction||
|A felony conviction||
|A misdemeanor conviction (with a firearm)||
|A felony conviction (with a firearm)||
|A misdemeanor conviction|
|A felony conviction|
|A misdemeanor conviction (with a firearm)|
|A felony conviction (with a firearm)|
In addition, a variety of “enhancements” may be alleged by the prosecution, potentially increasing the severity of the penalties. Enhancements are specific details about how the offense was committed, which make it much more serious in the eyes of the law and result in much harsher sentences.
Moreover, under certain circumstances, an assault with a deadly weapon that is charged as a felony may also be considered a strike under California’s “3 strikes” law, which is always a very serious situation.
Our aim at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian is to get your charges dismissed so that these potential penalties will not apply. If that is not possible, we have a strong record of getting the charges reduced to a lesser charge.
Defending an aggravated assault charge
Criminal prosecutors and law enforcement officials have vast resources available when prosecuting a violent offense like aggravated assault.
That means you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend against any aggravated assault charge in Orange County.
Our team will sit down with you and start working on your defense strategy as soon as we know the facts of the case so that we can examine the evidence against you.
In most cases, the obvious defense is that you acted in self-defense. In our experience, the following applies to most assault crimes in Orange County:
- They are often alleged to have happened in a public place, such as a bar or on the street; and
- Because there is a camera in almost every place of business and on every corner, the incident may have been recorded.
Your defense attorney may be able to access the cameras which will help demonstrate through the use of the footage what occurred contradicts claims by the prosecutor, law enforcement, and even witnesses. However, most businesses do not keep video records for very long, and law enforcement will not always preserve those recordings if they in fact exist. It is important to act quickly before potentially exculpatory evidence is lost forever.
Two people witnessing a crime will never see it the same way. As your defense attorneys, one of our goals is to uncover the truth and to relay that information to the prosecutor before charges are formally filed or as soon as possible thereafter.
Been charged with aggravated assault in Orange County?
If you or someone you care about has been charged with aggravated assault in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, or San Diego counties of Southern California, we can help.
We will work to build a defense strategy that aims to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.
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