As a form of aggravated assault, California criminalizes threatening or retaliating against a public official for performing their official duties. In order for the prosecution to convict you of this crime, all elements set forth in Penal Code 217.1 PC must be met, including that you acted out of retaliation or to prevent the public official from performing their duties. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we work to develop a strong legal defense based on the particular facts of the case. For example, assault and battery defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings may be able to present evidence that you did not act with criminal intent, or in fact acted out of self-defense. Our office represents people facing criminal charges for assault and battery, weapons offenses, and domestic violence offenses. We build strong legal defenses for people throughout Riverside and surrounding areas.
The prosecution has the legal burden of proving assault on a public official by demonstrating evidence that all elements of the crime have been met. This crime, charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, required proof that the defendant committed an assault. This assault must have been against either a public official, or a member of the official’s immediate family. Finally, the defendant must have assaulted the official either in retaliation for their actions, or to prevent performance of the official’s duties.
An assault is an attempt to cause injury to another person. It is important to understand that the person does not have to succeed in injuring the other person to be guilty of assault charges. Penalties for assault on a public official, even when the prosecution files charges as a misdemeanor, are more severe than misdemeanor assault, potentially leading to one year in custody in county jail and/or a fine of $1,000. As a felony conviction, assault on a public official may result in up to three years in jail.
The second element that must be demonstrated, after showing commission of an assault, is that the assault was committed against a “public official,” or member of their immediate family. Public officials under this statute may include a range of individuals, from the President of the United States to a current or former district attorney or public defender. Law enforcement officers, sheriffs, county supervisors, and city council members also fall under this statute. “Immediate family member” extends to their spouses, children, siblings, parents, and stepparents.
Finally, an individual can only be guilty of assaulting an official if their assault was either to retaliate for, or to prevent the performance of their official duties. If an assault occurred against a public official, but it was unrelated to the official’s job, the defendant cannot be guilty of this crime. Related offenses may include battery on a peace officer as well as aggravated battery.
A common strategy to fight criminal charges under 217.1 PC includes showing that the individual did not act with criminal intent. As a specific intent crime, a conviction can only stand if the defendant assaulted a public official with the purpose of preventing the official from performing their duties, or in retaliation for performing their duties. If the accused can show they did not have this purpose, then they may have a legal defense.
As an element of the crime, the prosecution must also show that an assault was committed. “Assault” requires showing that there was an unlawful attempt to commit serious bodily injury. It may be possible to show that there was no “assault” against a public official.
Self-defense may be a valid legal defense if certain conditions are met, including that the defendant had a good faith belief that they were in imminent danger of physical harm. For this defense to apply, the use of force must have been necessary to stop the danger, and must have been a reasonable amount of force under the circumstances.
At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we represent people facing misdemeanor and felony offenses for a range offenses, diligently applying the same dedication and legal expertise regardless of the offense. Whether you are seeking representation following a criminal investigation or have already been criminally charged, we can help. Riverside assault defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings brings nearly two decades of experience to his legal advocacy. Attorney Comings takes pride in providing honest and effective representation. To learn more about your case and next steps to work to reduce or dismiss charges, contact our office at (951) 686-3457 or reach us online.