If you have been arrested on an assault charge, you need reliable legal advice. Even if it is your first time being arrested, there could be serious consequences. The fact that you are a first-time offender does not, in and of itself, mean that you will automatically escape jail time or be treated differently than others accused of the same crime. Even those who are facing a first-time assault charge should face the criminal process with the understanding that a conviction can have long-reaching consequences and that every possible step should be taken to protect the defendant’s future. Riverside and San Bernardino assault defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings helps residents defend themselves against assault, battery, and other criminal accusations.
Under California Penal Code § 240, the crime of assault is defined as the unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury on another person. In order to be convicted of assault, the alleged perpetrator must have had both the intent and the present ability to commit injury on the person of the purported victim. Unless the State of California can provide evidence that convinces the jury beyond a reasonable doubt of these elements of the crime, there cannot be a conviction.
At trial, the State may seek to use evidence such as testimony by the victim or eyewitnesses, video surveillance, or physical evidence from the crime scene against the defendant. If any of the evidence that the State seeks to introduce against the defendant at trial was obtained through an illegal search or seizure, the defendant can file a motion to exclude that evidence. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that individuals shall be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and that warrants shall issue only upon a showing of probable cause. It is up to the trial court to determine whether the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated and, if so, whether the evidence was the “fruit of the poisonous tree” and should be excluded from the jury’s consideration. It is possible that other rights of the defendant may have been violated during the arrest or investigation phases of the case; if so, this evidence, too, is subject to the exclusionary rule.
Even if the evidence against the defendant was obtained legally by police, the defendant may have a viable defense, such as defending himself or a family member against aggression started by the “victim” of the alleged crime. Although the defendant does not have to testify in court due to his or her protections under the Fifth Amendment, it may be necessary for him or her to do so in order to prevail on a self-defense argument. Generally, testifying at trial is not advisable, so this is something that should be thoroughly discussed with an experienced criminal defense lawyer so that the defendant understands both the risks and possible benefits associated with waiving his or her rights in this manner.
Although simple assault is usually a misdemeanor, there are other types of assault, such as assault with a deadly weapon, that can boost an assault case into a felony. Felony offenders can serve more than a year behind bars, be subject to substantial fines, and lose certain civil rights indefinitely. The defendant’s status as a first-offender, while not a guarantee that an assault case will be prosecuted any less vigorously than it otherwise would be, is something that may be taken into consideration during plea negotiations (or sentencing, if a defendant is found guilty). Lawyer Gregory H. Comings serves the criminally accused throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, providing the strongest defense that he can for each client under the unique circumstances of their arrest and alleged criminal actions. For a consultation regarding your first-time assault or other criminal case, call us now at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online.