Assault in California, under PC§ 240, is an unlawful attempt, combined with a present ability, to violently injury another person. An assault is committed even if contact never occurs.

For example, threatening to hit someone, when accompanied by an act that shows intent to carry out the threat, constitutes an assault. California law also requires the present ability to carry out the threat. The required act, for instance, would include swinging a fist at a person without touching the them, but with the ability to touch them.


A person who is convicted of simple assault faces the following possible penalties:

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and

  • Fine up to $1000.

However, for assault charges, the identity of the victim is an important factor in determining the severity of the potential punishment.


Assault against many healthcare providers providing emergency treatment outside a hospital or clinic, and assault against many public workers who are engaged in the performance of their duties, carry more severe penalties than simple assault. However, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was a designated worker that was engaged in performing their duties.

Healthcare providers and public workers, pursuant to Penal Code §§ 241, 241.1, 241.3, 241.5, 241.6, 241.8, include, among others:

  • Doctors and nurses

  • Emergency medical technicians and paramedics

  • School employees

  • Fire fighters

  • Lifeguards

  • Animal control officers

  • Highway workers

  • Members of the United States military, when the assault is motivated by the fact of service in the military

  • Public transportation employees, and

  • Probation department employees.

Possible penalties, under Penal Code §§ 241, 241.5, 241.6, for a simple assault conviction against a healthcare provider or public worker while performing their duties include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail

  • Fine up to $2000, and

  • Probation.


If you allegedly committed an assault with either a deadly weapon or other means of force likely to cause great bodily injury, such as a gun or knife, then you will probably be charged with Penal Code 245(a)(1).

Assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler with a maximum misdemeanor sentence of 1 year in county jail and potential felony jail sentence of 2 years, 3 years or 4 years.


Laws prohibiting disturbing the peace, Penal Code 415 PC, make it a crime to fight someone in public, make unreasonable noise, or state “fighting words” in public.

Disturbing the peace is considered a low-level misdemeanor. In some cases, it can also be treated as an infraction.


Assault on a public official, under PC 217.1(a), consists of a simple assault committed against a public official, either in retaliation for or to prevent the performance of their official duties. Public officials include:

  • Judges,

  • Prosecutors,

  • Public Defenders and

  • Elected and executive officers of local, state and federal governments.

Assault on a public official is a wobbler. The potential misdemeanor sentence is 1 year in county jail, and the felony sentence is 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years.


Assault with caustic chemicals, Penal Code 244, is performed by throwing or placing any kind of caustic chemical on someone else’s body with the intent to injure or disfigure them.

PC 244 is a felony and carries a potential state prison sentence of 2 years, 3 years, or 4 years.


A defendant may have viable defenses available for their case. Depending on the situation and assault charges, you may have a defense if:

  • You did not have the ability to inflict force or violence

  • You acted in self-defense/defense of others

  • You did not act willfully or with the required intent

  • You were falsely accused

Assault arrests do not always result in convictions, and this is often due to the aggressive defense of a knowledgeable attorney. The Law Office of Brett Parker Davison makes sure to exploit all available avenues to obtain the bests result for clients. Mr. Davison will vigorously defend your rights to a fair and unbiased trial and guarantees that you will receive the undivided attention you deserve.