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Defending Violent Crime Charges in Southern California

If you get into a bar fight or you and your significant other have a domestic dispute, you could face aggravated assault and battery charges under California law. Assault can be charged if a person threatens or attempts to strike another person and does not require the use of force or any physical contact at all. The crime of assault requires no application of force on another person; it is sufficient that someone makes an attempt or has the intent to strike another person.


In California, assault charges can arise in a variety of situations such a dispute with a spouse or roommate, bar fights, or even violent assaults involving the use of a deadly weapon.

The defense to an assault case depends not only on your intent but also how the threat is perceived.

Imagine this scenario: Jim and Alex bump into each other at a bar and start exchanging words. The situation is heightened with some profanity but does not get truly serious. Jim then raises his hand and motions as if he is about to strike Alex with a closed fist, but stops well short. Alex, however, is a small individual and looks like he hasn’t been to the gym in a decade. Jim never took his words or threats seriously and certainly did not think that Alex was going to hit him even with a raised fist.

The prosecution, in this case, would have great difficulty proving that Alex committed an assault. Jim never had a reasonable belief that he was about to be struck or harmed. The belief of the victim is an essential element for an assault case.

Misdemeanor Assault

An assault can be charged under PC 240 that is a misdemeanor offense. Typical penalties for an assault conviction include misdemeanor probation that is also called summary probation. Jail time can be up to six months in county jail while fines of up to $1,000 can be imposed. Community service and completion of a batterer’s intervention program are additional sentencing requirements that a court may impose.


The precise circumstances of how the assault or battery occurred will determine how strong the prosecutor’s case is against you. If you forced to react or make physical contact with another person in self-defense this can be a strong factor in reducing or dismissing the criminal charges. Many people who face an assault or battery charge are amazed that an incident, which seemed so minor, can still bring serious criminal charges. Misdemeanor assault and battery cases still carry serious punishments that last well beyond the date of sentencing. If you have a strong defense you may avoid probation requirements that may subject you to increased police scrutiny for years after the case is over.

Intent to Cause Harm or Threat of Assault

Unlike battery, an assault case depends on two important ideas; that the defendant intended to cause another person harm or made a threat that harm was coming. Intent can be difficult to prove to a jury unless there are clear words or actions taken that can be presented at trial. Witness statements from third parties and video evidence can be the difference between a not guilty verdict and jail time.

Intent to commit the crime is an additional requirement to be convicted of assault in San Diego County. A “willful” intent is a necessary part the crime of assault if you did not take actions which show that you had any intent in harming another person you may have a defense against the charges.

A well-prepared legal defense focusing on prompt and thorough investigation of all the evidence in your case is important to minimizing the charges you are facing. Assault and battery cases do not always require a jail sentence and often only fines and anger management classes are ordered. Felony assault or battery offenses differ significantly from misdemeanor cases and can have long-term consequences such as years in prison and having a felony strike on your record.

Felony Strike & Aggravated Felony

Aggravated assault such as a crime involving the use of a deadly weapon will be charged as a felony strike. Felonies that are strike offenses not only increase jail time but can also be used to enhance prison sentences in future cases.

The charge of a battery with GBI (Great Bodily Injury) is a strike offense because it is considered a serious or aggravated felony. This type of charge is a criminal enhancement that adds years onto any prison sentence. The other serious consequence of serious felonies is that any prison time imposed will be served at 85% of total time.

Many criminal offenses are granted PC 4019 credits which give any person in custody two additional credit days for every two days they serve in jail. Anyone with a current or prior serious felony conviction will serve 80-85% of the total time of their sentencing. Defendant’s with a strike or violent felony conviction are excluded from getting custody credits.

The California “Three Strikes Law” has a life-long impact; having a strike eligible conviction placed on your record has to avoided. A strike conviction for felony assault or battery will enhance your punishment for any future felony offenses and may add significant years to a prison sentence.


Depending on the seriousness of the aggravating factors, aggravated assault and battery may yield a charge of a misdemeanor or felony. At The Law Office of George Gedulin, our San Diego violent crime attorneys understand that aggravated assault and battery charges are rarely straightforward. From the time you contact us for legal counsel, we will work hard to investigate your case and develop a defense strategy that makes sense.

Reach out to our office in San Diego for more information about our team and approach to criminal defense in state and federal court. Call (858) 281-4605 today.

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