ASSAULT & BATTERY
WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH ASSAULT OR BATTERY?
Anyone who has ever witnessed a fight can tell you that is often impossible to tell you who started it, who was responsible for escalating the situation, and even who was actually involved. But a police report is always going to come to black and white findings despite the fact that we all know this to be impossible. Assault and battery charges in California can cover a wide variety of charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies with the possibility of a life sentence in prison. We have experience handling thousands of cases involving these charges from before charges have been filed all the way through trial. The reality is that the full picture of events beyond the police report can not be exposed without a skilled attorney with the experience that we bring to the table. As a Manhattan Beach assault and battery defense attorney and as a former prosecutor in both Los Angeles and Orange County, we have seen every type of case imaginable. Below are a few examples of how a case can change from an initial police report:
CASE EXAMPLES OF OUR WORK IN ASSAULT AND BATTERY CHARGES
A client is charged in Manhattan Beach with assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury (Penal Code Section 245(a)(4)) for allegedly punching another man at a bar and knocking him out. Further investigation reveals the other man swung first and defendant is found to have used justifiable self defense.
A client in Long Beach is arrested for assault with a deadly weapon under Penal Code section 245(a)(1) stabbing another man and causing great bodily injury. The initial police report contains little information about the claimed victim. More extensive examination reveals that the alleged victim threatened the defendant with gang threats and was pummeling the defendant when he was stabbed. Once again, the defendant is found to have used legally permitted self defense.
The above examples are specific to those cases but they show how much the facts can change from the initial police report. I bring my education, expertise, and skill with me whether I am talking to the police, prosecutor, judge, or jury. It is vital to hire an attorney that possesses all of these qualities because the consequences to charges like this can be life altering.
POTENTIAL CHARGES AND CONSEQUENCES
Assault and battery can cover a wide variety of charges in California as dictated by the Penal Code. Example of misdemeanor charges in this category are extensive but some of the most common are simple assault (PC 240), simple battery (PC 242), battery causing serious bodily injury (PC 243(d)), battery on a peace officer (PC 243(b) and PC 243(c)(2)), assault with a deadly weapon (PC 245(a)(1)), assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury (PC 245(a)(4), domestic battery (PC 243(e)(1) and PC 273.5(a), sexual battery (PC 243.4), and elder abuse (PC 368).
Some assault and battery charges can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In California, a key difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is that a felony charge carries with it the possibility of a prison sentence while misdemeanors will usually have a maximum sentence of either six months of one year in jail. Additionally, probation for misdemeanors will usually be what is called “summary probation” in Los Angeles and “informal probation” in Orange County. Regardless of the wording, this means that there will not be a probation officer that a defendant will have to check in with and restrictions will be far less than if on formal probation. Misdemeanor assault cases in Los Angeles will often result in sentences including community labor, anger management, counseling, stay away orders, and fines. We have the experience to help you navigate very complicated territory and give you real world advice for what the real impact of a plea bargain will be and whether to take your case to trial. Examples of charges that can be filed as either a felony or misdemeanor in Los Angeles include domestic battery causing corporal injury (PC 273.5(a)), assault with a deadly weapon (PC 245(a)(1)), resisting arrest with force (PC 69) and battery causing serious bodily injury (PC 243(d)).
Felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles or Orange County always carry the possibility of a state prison sentence. More serious assault charges can carry the possibility of a life sentence in prison. Felony assault or battery is often going to be viewed as an aggravated offense due to either the presence of a weapon, the amount of potential injury, or the classification of the victim. Examples of felony assault and battery charges include assault with a firearm (PC 245(a)(2)), unlawful discharge of a firearm at an occupied dwelling or motor vehicle (PC 246.3), and domestic battery causing actual great bodily injury (PC 273.5(a)). Felony charges will often have allegations attached that will make the potential punishment far more severe. In Los Angeles and Orange County, the most common involve the degree of injury, gang allegations, or the use of a weapon.
Assault and battery charges will often be charged with additional allegations that can increase potential punishment. Below are a few examples:
GREAT BODILY INJURY (PENAL CODE SECTION 12022.7)
An additional allegation can be charged if the prosecutor alleges that “great bodily injury”was inflicted on the claimed victim. Great bodily injury or “GBI” is defined by the Penal Code as significant or substantial injury. Examples can include broken bones, injuries that require stitches, loss of consciousness, or the loss of a tooth. The significance of this allegation is that it can often transform a misdemeanor to a felony and can three years of additional prison exposure to a felony.
GANG ALLEGATIONS (Penal Code Section 186.22)
Gang enhancements are some of the most serious allegations that can be charged against a defendant in Los Angeles. Gang allegations under PC 186.22 can turn misdemeanors into felonies and can add years or even a life sentence to felony sentences. In an assault case, the prosecutor will have to show that a defendant committed or aided in an assault; the defendant was an active participant or associate in a criminal street gang; the defendant committed the assault for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with the gang; and with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist the gang.
Gang allegations will usually involve the production of gang evidence along with the evidence of the initial charged crime. In Los Angeles, a gang detective will generally have to form the opinion that the defendant is involved with a gang and committed the crime in furtherance of the gang. This detective will usually testify in court at both the preliminary hearing and at trial. We have experience with gang cases all across Southern California. We have handled every step of gang cases in locations such as Compton, Torrance, East Los Angeles, Whittier, Santa Ana, Redondo Beach, and many other locations. Successfully defending against a gang allegation can and does have a dramatic effect on you or your loved ones’ freedom.
USE OF A DEADLY WEAPON (NON-FIREARM)
The use of a weapon that is not a firearm will typically be alleged under Penal Code Section 12022(b)(1). This allegation can add an additional year in prison. Note that the knife does not have to be used to actually injure someone. If the knife was used and the other person suffered great bodily injury, then the allegations for great bodily injury (GBI) under PC 12022.7 and use of a deadly weapon under PC 12022(b)(1) would both apply.
USE OF A FIREARM
California has placed a severe penalty on anyone that uses a firearm during the commission of a crime. The use of a firearm can add decades or a life sentence to a crime that otherwise would never result in that type of sentence. Penal Code Section 12022.5 (PC 12022.5) is an allegation that a firearm was used during the commission of a crime. In plain English, the use of a firearm can add 10 years even though the gun was never fired. Penal Code Section 12022.53 (PC 12022.53) applies when a weapon is actually fired during the commission of a crime. This can add decades to a sentence. Lastly, Penal Code Section 12022.53(d) applies when a weapon is fired and causes great bodily injury. This can result in a life sentence if found to be true.
TRIAL ON ASSAULT AND BATTERY CHARGES
The reality is that the majority of criminal cases in Los Angeles or Orange County do not go to trial. But you still need a criminal defense attorney who has actual trial experience and skill. Unless the prosecution believes that the defense is ready for trial and capable of winning, they will not give you the best possible offer. And if that offer is unacceptable, we are ready for trial with numerous assault and battery trials already under our belt. Whether you are in Santa Monica, Norwalk, Los Angeles, or anywhere else across Southern California, assault charges are not something to take lightly.
WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU'VE BEEN CHARGED WITH ASSAULT OR BATTERY IN MANHATTAN BEACH?
The first step anyone facing assault or battery charges needs to make is to immediately contact an experienced Manhattan Beach assault and battery attorney. The police and prosecutors will use all of their experience and resources to gain a conviction and will not look after your rights and interests. We are devoted specifically to criminal defense and our clients see the results. Reach out to us today so that we can begin the fight for your reputation right now.