If you are facing criminal investigation or pending charges, a trusted and experienced attorney can make a great difference in the outcome of your case. Riverside assault lawyer Gregory H. Comings will fight to protect your best interest by providing dedicated representation that begins with an assessment of the specific facts underlying the charges. Early involvement in a criminal case by a skilled defense attorney can help to reduce or even dismiss charges, depending on the circumstances.
California law makes it a crime to use a deadly weapon to injure or threaten to injure another person. When someone uses their car, truck, or other automobile to inflict or threaten to inflict physical harm on someone, they may be charged with vehicular assault. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we represent people facing criminal charges for assault, battery, domestic violence and other violent crimes. Our goal is to work toward the appropriate outcome for each client.
California Penal Code 245(a)(1) makes it a crime to use an instrument that can cause serious injury or death to another person. A vehicle may be considered a deadly weapon because it can be used in a way that leads to substantial, significant, or great bodily injury or death. No one needs to have suffered injury by the defendant’s conduct, but if they did, an injury may serve as evidence that the defendant completed the assault.
In order to prove vehicular assault, the prosecution must meet all elements of the crime. First, the defendant must have willfully committed the act. Similar to simple assault, the willful element does not require that the victim was hurt. If the defendant was aware that their vehicle would likely directly cause and probably result in great bodily injury to another person, the element is satisfied.
In other words, vehicular assault requires the defendant have the requisite awareness that they could have created harm. A person must intend to use force that they knew, or should have known, would likely lead to great bodily harm. For example, most people are aware that if they drive their vehicle into a crowd of people, they may strike and injure someone
A common legal defense to charges for vehicular assault is lack of intent. If the defendant did not intend to cause harm to another person, the charges cannot stand. For instance, if the injury was caused by negligence, this defense may be appropriate. The facts may show that the defendant did not harbor anger or motivation to injure the victim but instead failed to meet their duty of care behind the wheel.
Self-defense may apply if the defendant’s use of force was reasonable under the circumstances, and did not exceed the scope of what is necessary. A defendant that operates their vehicle under the reasonable belief that they were under imminent threat of harm and then uses the car as necessary may be able to rely on this defense.
Vehicular assault under California Penal Code section 245(a)(1) is a wobbler offense. This means that the prosecution can charge the crime as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. A conviction for a felony violation of Penal Code section 245(a)(1) can lead to two, three, or four years in prison. If the victim is a police officer or firefighter, the length of time extends to five years. Fines can include up to $10,000 plus penalties. Defendants face formal probation, often based on their history.
A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to one year in county jail as well as fines. Probation may be possible and can include anger management classes and restitution to the victim.
California’s Three Strikes law may come into play if the defendant’s conduct led to great bodily injury. A strike can enhance future convictions. However, the conviction is not likely to be a strike if the victim did not suffer bodily injury.
A conviction for vehicular assault can lead to imprisonment and heavy fines. Learning more about your legal rights is the first step to understanding your options. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings we take pride in being upfront with clients, explaining the potential ramifications of their actions and providing information on how we work to seek a fair outcome on their behalf. Riverside assault lawyer Gregory H. Comings brings tenacity to his legal defense and remains available to clients 24/7. Our office provides a consultation and can be reached by calling (951) 686-3457 or fill out our online form.