Definition of Assault in California

Assault is defined as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury” on another person. (Cal. Pen Code, § 240.)

What the DA Must Prove

In California, the crime of assault is an attempted battery, which means that you can be convicted of assault even if you never touched someone. Because a touching is not required, the People are also not required to prove that the defendant actually touched someone.

In order for a person to be convicted of Assault, all the People must show is that:

  • 1) The defendant did an act that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person;
  • 2) The defendant did that act willfully;
  • 3) When the defendant acted, he/she was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that his/her act by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to someone;
  • 4) When the defendant acted, he/she had the present ability to apply force to a person; and
  • 5) The defendant did not act in self-defense or in defense of someone else.

**Willfully – Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

**The terms application of force and apply force mean to touch in a harmful or offensive manner.

Punishment for Assault in California

A person convicted of Assault in California faces up to six months in the county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Immigration Consequences

Criminal convictions can have drastic immigration consequences, such as deportation, denial of naturalization and exclusion from admission. Therefore, if you are not a U.S. citizen and you are charged with Assault in California, it is critical that you speak to a knowledgeable criminal/immigration attorney about your specific immigration status, your current criminal case, and your entire criminal history, to find out what effect an assault conviction would have on your immigration status.