If you are charged with felony assault or another serious crime, you may be facing a significant prison sentence. The sooner you talk to a lawyer, the sooner you can understand the charges against you, exactly what the State has to prove in order for there to be a conviction, and how to formulate the most effective defense against a finding of guilt. San Bernardino and Riverside assault lawyer Gregory H. Comings helps the criminally accused defend themselves against charges of felony assault and other violent crimes, domestic violence, sex crimes, and drug crimes.
Being arrested for a crime like felony assault is just one in many steps of the legal process. An arrest simply means that someone has been formally charged, or accused, of a crime. It does not mean that the person who has been arrested is guilty of the crime of which he or she has been accused. Only the jury (or the trial court judge in cases involving less serious offenses in which there is not a right to a jury trial) can determine guilt. In order for there to be a conviction, the trier of fact (jury or judge, as the case may be) must be convinced of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the State of California, through the prosecuting attorney, has the highest possible burden of proof in a criminal case. Unlike the preponderance of the evidence standard typically used in civil cases, a mere tipping of the scales of justice in favor of the State will not suffice; all reasonable doubt must be eliminated in order for there to be a finding of guilt.
In California, the offense of assault can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. In a simple assault, the State must prove that the defendant willfully acted in a way that was likely to result in the use of force against another person. This application of force does not have to result in physical harm in order for the defendant to be convicted of a simple, misdemeanor assault. There can be a conviction if there was any harmful or offensive touching. In some cases, a conviction for assault can occur when there has not actually been any physical contact between the defendant and the alleged victim. A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to a year in jail. By contrast, a conviction of felony assault can result in several years in prison, depending upon the circumstances. For instance, if a defendant is convicted of felony assault due to an assault with a deadly weapon, he or she could face up to four years of incarceration for the assault. A person who is convicted of assault may also face a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for physical injuries suffered by the alleged crime victim.
There are constitutional defenses that may be available in some felony assault cases, including the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to refrain from self-incrimination, and the right to counsel at certain phases of the legal process. There may also be factual defenses, such as lack of intent, mistaken identity, self-defense, or a false accusation. It is important that the accused consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help him or her understand the evidence that is likely to be introduced against him or her at trial so that an appropriate motion to exclude can be made. If the court determines that certain evidence is the “fruit of the poisonous tree” (such as evidence obtained through an illegal search warrant), the jury will not be told about the evidence if the trial court grants the defendant’s request to suppress the evidence.
Attorney Gregory H. Comings stands up for those who have been accused of serious crimes, advocating for the best possible outcome for each case while also being honest and realistic with the client about the likely outcome of the charges pending against him or her. To schedule an appointment to learn more about how we can help you as you go through this difficult process, call us at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online. We handle criminal cases for first-time and repeat defendants throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.