When facing criminal charges, it's important to understand what those
charges are as well as the penalties that may result from a conviction.
In many cases, the criminal charges brought against an individual are
based upon intent and the degree of harm inflicted. Consequently, there
are often significant differences in the degree of seriousness of criminal
charges as well as the associated penalties.
Take, for example, a criminal charge of assault versus aggravated assault.
Under California's Penal Code, an assault is defined as an "unlawful
attempt to cause a violent injury." In cases involving criminal charges
of assault, even if no harm or injury actually occurs, an individual's
intent to inflict injury may be sufficient to file the charge. However,
in these types of cases, the assault charge would most likely be considered
Criminal charges of aggravated assault are classified as felonies and are
therefore more serious in nature. In cases where an individual faces charges
of aggravated assault, the degree of injury inflicted and the intent of
the accused are taken into consideration. For example, if two individuals
are involved in a bar fight and one suffers permanent brain damage after
being punched and falling to the ground, the prosecution is likely to
file charges of aggravated assault.
However, there are cases where charges of
aggravated assault are filed even when no one is physically injured. In cases involving a
handgun or other deadly weapon, an individual will face aggravated assault
charges even if the weapon wasn’t fired or used to physically harm anyone.
Individuals in Alameda County who are facing assault or aggravated assault
charges would be wise to discuss their case with an attorney. A criminal
conviction of any kind can adversely impact an individual's life in
many ways. However, the penalties associated with a felony conviction
are much harsher and often result in a prison sentence. A criminal defense
attorney may be able to assist in getting criminal charges related to
assault dismissed or reduced to misdemeanor charges.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Aggravated Assault," 2014
FindLaw.com, "California Assault and Battery Laws," 2014