The law in California has exceptional provisions to guard certain groups of people. These categories of people include children, the elderly, and specific groups of people performing public duties. The state considers assault itself as an offense. When you assault a California public official, the crime falls under California Penal Code 217. The legislature protects the public officials from the dangers they may face from other people. Their duties involve making crucial decisions that are unpopular. The citizens may target the officials after they disagree with their decision-making policy.
The conviction may attract permanent criminal history, heavy fines, and extensive jail terms. Luckily, you may fight the charges. If you face an assault against an official public charge in Riverside, CA, you want to hire a competent criminal defense lawyer to fight the charge. At Riverside Criminal Defense Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, our attorneys will ensure you obtain a fair verdict. Our attorneys are conversant with California laws and are dedicated to ensuring your rights are protected.
What is Assault On a Public Official?
The California law outlines an assault on peace officers under 217 PC. You face the charges under the law when you assault the official by preventing them from performing their duties. As per California law, assault involves acting in a way that results in another person’s injury. The crime differs from the battery, where someone uses force. For you to face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove the elements of the crime. Although the prosecutor might find it challenging to prove the elements of crime, the defendant won’t face conviction if the prosecution team fails to prove the crime’s elements.
Who is a Public Official?
As per the California penal code 217.1 (a), a public official includes any person serving as a peace officer, a colleague of judicial service, or a member of either local, county, or federal government. The protection of the public officials also applies to their following family members. These immediate family members may include the official’s parents, siblings, spouse, or children.
During their duties, public officials make critical decisions. In the US, most policy decisions are unpopular or dramatic. The officials perform a wide range of responsibilities. For example, the officials may take a significant part in creating new rules for the state. Due to this reason, most peace officers are at a high level of receiving physical attacks and threats. That’s why the law in California fights for the rights of public officials. In California, the laws concerning the assault on the official are stated under PC 217.1 (a). A conviction for this law may attract severe penalties like huge fines and extended jail terms.
If the charge involves a public officer, the prosecution team must prove you knew the official. The California laws consider a public official as any of the following:
- A local, state, or federal judge
- Vice president or president
- Local, state, or federal jury
- A local, state, federal elected officer
- A prosecutor either retired of current
- A public defender
- A member serving as a mayor, police, sheriff, chief of police, municipality, or county supervisor
- A governor of any state in the USA
- A secretary or director of the executive agency, either federal or state
- A commissioner, a referee, or any other judicial officer
What are the Elements of California Penal Code 217.1(a)?
Under the law, assaulting a California peace officer is a serious offense that attracts severe penalties. Usually, the law considers assault crime a misdemeanor. But, when the assault is against the official, the defendant faces a felony charge.
The offense comes with several elements outlined by the law. The prosecution team must prove the elements before you face conviction for the crime. The first thing the prosecutor will do is to provide evidence to show you committed the crime. As a defendant, you must have engaged in an assault against the public officer. Also, the prosecutor must prove you committed the crime with the intent of hindering the peace officer from carrying out their duties. But, if you commit the crime but fail to affect the official’s duty, you will not face conviction for the offense. However, the court may charge you with normal assault charges.
You must apply force to the public official for you to face conviction. In California, the court considers any method of harmful or offensive touching to an official as the use of force. Therefore, when you touch the public official rudely or offensively, then you will face the crime’s charges. Note, you will face the charges even when this is slight, provided you commit it offensively. Also, the court may impose the charges even when the public official didn’t suffer any injury. The touch doesn’t also require being direct. So, the court may charge you even when the touch was indirect. For example, when you touch the official using a device or an object. The court will charge you with the crime, provided your actions could have attracted the use of force to the official.
To face conviction for the crime, the prosecutor must also prove you willfully acted and you had knowledge of your behavior. The law doesn’t require you to hurt the official or benefit from your behavior. Sometimes, you might not have the aim to apply force on the officers. But, if your action could have resulted in using force, you will face conviction for the crime. Ensure you work closely with a criminal defense attorney to help challenge the prosecutor in proving the elements of the crime.
The Penalties of Assault on a Public Official in California
As per state law, assault on a public official attracts severe penalties. The law considers the crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. The prosecution team will decide whether you will face a misdemeanor or felony charge. Also, the prosecution team will examine the facts surrounding your case and your past criminal records.
The crime may attract misdemeanor or summary probation. The probation has harsh terms and conditions. Also, you may remain behind bars for up to 12 months in the county jail. In addition, you may pay a fine of $1,000.
In most cases, you will face felony charges for the assault on the official. The possible penalties will include felony probation. The terms and conditions of the probation involve you regularly visiting the probation department. You also risk facing commitment in community service while serving the probation. Also, you may remain behind bars for a period between six months and three years. The criminal court may ask you to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Understanding Assault Laws and Charges On a Public Official in California
The laws in California have various penal codes designed to protect the official. The laws include:
California PC 217 protects officials in public offices. The law covers the officials themselves together with their family members. The act involves an unlawful attempt to commit physical injury to the peacemaker while undertaking their duties.
California PC 241 protects public officials like police officers, lifeguards, parking control professionals, emergency technicians, animal control professionals, firefighters, and other public officers to safeguard the public.
Public officials are also referred to as peace officers. So if you assault the law officials in California, you will face conviction under CP 241 or CP 217. Under the two laws, you will face huge fines and long jail terms.
If you face the charges, you want to work with a competent attorney to provide legal help. Most law enforcement officers like the police may hate someone threatening or disrespecting their authority and thus may falsely accuse you. The attorney you choose to defend you at the court will more likely determine the results of the case outcome. Our attorneys at the riverside criminal defense attorney law firm will help you obtain a favorable outcome for your case. Other California PC Related to Assault on Public Official Charges include:
California Penal Code 148 a( 1) involves the actions of threatening or using violence as you resist an arrest.
California PC 245 a(1) outlines assault using a dangerous weapon which occurs when you apply force leading to great bodily harm.
California PC 245 involves aggravated assault which occurs when an attempted assault where the defendant uses a firearm or gun, even a dangerous weapon.
What is the Difference Between Assault and Simple Assault Against a Government Official?
Under the state’s law, the court considers simple assault a misdemeanor charge while assaulting the public officer is a felony charge. The law considers the assault against the peace officer to include actions like:
- You engaged in assault actions.
- You engaged in an assault on a California public official.
- Your behavior or action prevented the officers from carrying out their duties.
- You can face conviction for the crime even when you did not cause injury to the official. An attempt to perform the crime will attract the crime’s charges.
For example, you strongly disagree with several changes introducing a new mayor in your city. When the mayor calls a meeting concerning the new changes, you attend the meeting with pepper spray to spray the mayor. When the mayor refuses to make changes, then you spray pepper spray on them. Your actions would lead to assault against the official charges even if the crowd stopped you from spraying.
The essential thing about assault against public officers, your actions should relate to a public behavior committed by the officers to prevent them from performing their duties. When the actions do not interrupt the officer’s duty, you will not face conviction for the crime. So, you might face conviction for a simple assault crime. For example, you are in a nightclub and involved in a fight with another person. Due to your anger, you try to stone the other person, but you’re stopped immediately. You realize the other person engaged in the crime was a jury from your county. Since the act to stone them did not interrupt their duty, you will not face conviction for assaulting the official.
Assault on a Government Official Charge Vs. Battery Charge
The California PC 243 outlines battery against a California peace officer. You commit a battery crime when you approach a public officer while on their duties and then touch them illegally and deliberately. When the official strongly believes you make physical contact with the officer in a harmful and offensive gesture, you will face a battery charge on the peace officer.
To face the PC 243 charge, the prosecution team must prove you were aware of the peace officer. If you or your family member face allegations of battery charge against a peace officer, you want to work with a defense attorney. Usually, most people don’t understand battery crime. With a competent attorney, you will fight the battery charges. You may use defenses as you acted for self-defense, you did not act intentionally, or the peace officer was not committed to their duties.
The Potential Defense for An Assault Against A Public Official
Assaulting the public official is a severe offense in California. There are various legal defenses you may use when facing charges for assaulting the official. With the assistance of a competent defense lawyer, you will be able to fight for the charges. The common legal defense that a law expert may apply includes:
You Didn’t Had the Intent to Prevent the Public Official From Conducting Their Duties
The court may charge you for assault against a government official when you attack him/her intending to prevent them from carrying official duties. If you have enough evidence, you didn't intend to do so. The court will prosecute you with simple assault. Under California penal code 217, simple assault charges are lesser than assaulting the official. In addition, you may apply this defense when you assault the official in any other place other than their official working place. For example, the defense may work when you assault someone in a hang-out place, then later learn he/she is a government officer.
You Lacked the Ability to Cause Injury Against the Public Official.
The defense may apply if you couldn’t subject the civil servants to severe injury when the crime occured. When interacting with an officeholder, you may exchange rude gestures, harsh words, or harm the official. However, when you have evidence that you did not have the capability to harm the official, you can't face the charges.
The defense may apply when the civil servant is physically stronger than the defendant. Again, it may work when the victim is older than you. Therefore you want to hire a lawyer with many years of experience to help you reverse the charges to lesser offenses or assist in the dismissal of your charges.
You Acted in Self Defense
When you assault an official public intention to defend yourself, this defense may assist in fighting the charges. For instance, The civil servant can be violent towards another person or you. The prosecution always believes the defendant is guilty and not the public official. You may provide evidence that you were at risk of injury or impending threat, then you used legal force against the public official. You want to provide proof you use the necessary power under the circumstances for self-defense. Therefore, it is essential to hire a competent defense attorney to help you in building a solid defense to challenge the prosecution.
You Didn't Act Willingly
You beat charges for assaulting a government official by arguing you didn’t intend to do so. You could not face charges for assaulting a public official if you didn't act willingly. Again, you may not meet the charges if you were not conscious of your behavior when executing the crime. You may claim it wasn't intentional, or it was an instance of misinterpretation. In addition, you may state that you didn't know if they were a government official. Again the public official may misinterpret your words/actions. In this case, you require the assistance of a competent lawyer to help you fight the charges in court. Your attorney will reveal your story before the judge and prosecution then help you beat the charges.
You may be falsely accused of assaulting a government official. Under California law, an assaulted victim isn't required to have physical injuries as evidence you attacked them. Therefore you may be falsely accused of assaulting someone since the court will not need the victim to have a bodily injury as evidence for assault.
The victim may falsely prosecute you for assault due to jealousy, revenge, or anger. When you face charges for assaulting a public official in California, consider seeking the assistance of a legal expert. The lawyer can prove your innocence and petition for dismissal of your charges.
Other Related Offenses
There are various offenses charged in line with Assault against a government official. Below are the crimes:
When you unlawfully fight in an open field, you violate California penal code 415. Additionally, you also face charges when you challenge or deceive another person into fighting in an open area. Again, California law prohibits anyone from willfully disturbing other people using loud noise.
In California, you face charges for disturbing the peace when you use disrespectful words to a public official in a public area. The words should be provoking and able to attract a faster violent reaction.
Violating pc 415 is an infraction or misdemeanor, depending on your criminal record. When charged with an infraction, you pay a fine of $250. Alternatively, when accused of a misdemeanor, you pay penalties up to $400 and imprisonment for three months. Violating PC 415 on public grounds attracts misdemeanor charges. Public lands include university, school, or community, and college.
Assault with Firearms
Assaulting someone else with a gun, you face severe charges under pc 245(a). In California, assault using deadly weapons is a wobble. The prosecution may charge assault with firearms as either misdemeanor or felony. When accused of a misdemeanor, the penalties include imprisonment in county jail for one year. You will also pay a court fine of up to $1,000.
When the court charges you with assault(felony) using a firearm, the penalties are state imprisonment for years and a fine up to $10,000. You may defend yourself for the crime by pointing out; you didn't use deadly weapons. Again, you may assert you didn't use force which may result in serious bodily injury. Other defenses include you did so to defend yourself.
Simple Assault PC 240
The prosecution mostly charges many defendants with PC 240 instead of assaulting a government official. It happens mostly when the defendant is not informed that the victim is a government official. Again simple assault charges applied when the officer was out of duty when the crime occurred.
In addition, you face conviction for simple assault when you do anything that might lead to another person's execution of force. In California, PC 240 is a misdemeanor. Its penalties include six months imprisonment in county jail and a fine of up to $10000. For the prosecution team to charge you with California PC 240, they should prove you acted willingly and intentionally. Again, they should prove you applied force during the offense. Possible defenses that your lawyer may use to defend charges on simple assault include false accusations, lack of intent, and when the officer was out of duty at the time of the crime.
Find a Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you face an assault on an official public charge, you may wonder where to begin. The most important thing you want to do is seek legal help from a competent defense attorney. Your case’s success will depend on how you work with a skilled defense attorney. To ensure you are on the safe side, contact your attorney right away after the arrest.
At Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we have determined attorneys to help you achieve fair outcomes of your case. If the law enforcement officers arrest you in or around Riverside, CA, don’t hesitate to contact us. Call us today at 951-946-6366, book an appointment, and our attorneys will ensure you receive your justice. The attorneys will provide legal guidance and build a solid defense to challenge the prosecutors' evidence.