Assault is a charge characterized by someone attempting to cause injury to another person, whether or not they actually cause that injury. The attempt must be lawful, to the extent that it cannot be an act of self-defense. The attempt must also be from a person who has a reasonable ability to actually cause the injury. An assault charge will land you up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1000 fine. Jail time and fines will go up if you cause severe bodily injury to the person. It is a serious charge when the assault is against any person, carrying with it harsh sentencing. However, if your assault is against a police officer, you will face even harsher sentencing. Police and other peace officers are professionals who have more protection than the general public. Crimes against them are elevated in severity and carry with them more jail or prison time, more fines and penalties and overall more consequences. Assaulting an officer can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the injury caused. If the injury you attempted to inflict or that the victim sustained did not required medical attention, then it may be charged as a misdemeanor. Charged as a misdemeanor, assault against an officer will result in up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2000, or a combination of both. If you serious injure the person, you can be charged with a felony and the sentencing will increase. This will also be counted as a strike under the Three Strikes Law because it is considered a violent felony. Police officers are not the only kind of professionals protected under assault law. Firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, parole officers, animal control officers, parking patrol cops, lifeguards, search and rescue, medical cares providers engaged in emergency medical care and certain other protected professionals are considered peace officers for legal purposes. As you can see, assaulting an officer versus any person off the street is a significantly more severe crime. If you are facing charges of assaulting an officer, you may want to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate your case facts and advise you on how best to proceed. Criminal courts judge those who harm law enforcement officers and other peace officers harshly so you will be best off with having an attorney represent you in the most favorable light and obtain any potential reductions in your sentencing, if available. It is hard to represent yourself alone on an assaulting an officer charge. Assault is a very broad crime category. It covers a wide range of behaviors and acts, some which can hardly be considered violent. You may think of assaulting an officer as just physical violence. In reality, assault can include anything that causes or attempts to cause bodily injury to a person. Shoving someone, when done with the intent to harm, can be assault. Other examples of assault could include hitting someone with your car or stepping on their foot, both when done with the intent to harm the person. The broad categories of acts that constitute assault and the wide range of people who are protected under this law make assaulting an officer a more common charge than you would think. However, to be charged with assaulting an officer, the prosecution must prove you had reason to believe that the person you assaulted was a police officer or some other peace officer and that he or she was engaged in their professional duties. There are several different kinds of people that are considered peace officers, not all of which wear obvious uniforms like cops. If you had no reason to believe the person was a protected professional, if they were wearing street clothes and no identification, and were not doing anything that clearly demonstrated their profession, then you cannot be charged with assaulting an officer because you did not have the intent to harm a peace officer. The prosecution must also prove that your act was willful and you had the intent to cause injury to the person. This injury must also be something you had the ability to inflict at the time. They must also prove the act was unlawful, meaning that it was not in self-defense against unlawful actions on the part of the police or peace officer. For example, if you injure an officer in self-defense as a result of being assaulted yourself, you cannot be charged with assaulting an officer. You have the right to self-defense if you are in clear and present danger. Assaulting an officer is a complex charge and many components need to be proven before you can be convicted. Make sure you are informed on assault law and your case facts in order to protect and not be punished for exercising your rights as a citizen.
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested and are facing charges of assaulting an officer, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can listen to your story and help you prepare a strategic defense to ensure you the best possible outcome for your case. Contact our offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.