Newport Beach Assault Against a Peace Officer
Penal Code Section 241(c) Assault Against a Peace Officer
The offense of assault against a peace officer is when the willful application of force is coupled with the present ability to carry out a threat of harm, injury or commit a violent injury against a special victim in a protected class who is engaged in the performance of his or her duties. A special victim is a person whose profession designates special protection under the law when they are engaged in the performance of his or her duty.
An assault against the following types of special victims carries enhanced sentencing to the simple assault charges one faces: police officer, public safety officer, firefighter, health care provider, teacher, government official, prison guard, or elderly person. In assault cases the prosecution has the burden to prove the assault was against a special victim.
The penalty if a person charged with this crime will be increased if they knowingly committed an assault against a person in a protected class. That means that the prosecutor must prove that you in fact assaulted one of these members of a protected class, at the time of the assault the person was engaged in the performance of his or her duties, you knew or reasonably should have known that the person was in a performance of his or her duties or engaged in emergency medical care and three you were not acting in self-defense. Should you assault a person who is a special victim under these types of circumstances, you face more severe penalties, instead of facing only six months in jail and a $2000 fine you are subjected to an enhancement of up to one year in jail and additional fines.
There are also considerations for assaults that occur on property that receive special consideration. 1) Assaults on public transportation locations occur under Penal Code section 241.3. They involve the willful application of force coupled with their present ability to carry out a threat of harm, injury, or commit a violent injury against any person on the vehicle or property of the public transportation provider. 2) Penal Code section 241.2 subdivision a includes school property or parks. When someone willfully applies force coupled with the ability to carry out a threat of harm, injury, or commit a violent injury against any person on school or park property this crime applies this crime does not apply when the facilities are used for a commercial event or professional sports. Again, the prosecution has the burden to prove that the property is one that receives special consideration. The prosecution must prove that you assaulted the victim, at the time of the assault the victim was on property receives special consideration by the law, and that you were not acting in self-defense. An assault that takes place in one of these special areas carries more severe penalties than a simple assault that occurs somewhere else. You could be subjected to an enhancement of up to one year in the county jail in additional fines. Ultimately these types of enhancement present risk to your liberty. That is why it's so important to have an attorney who is experienced in addressing these types of charges.
In our office we frequently see people who are under the influence of alcohol and are leaving a Newport Beach bar or restaurant and have an encounter with a police officer. They may not be cognizant of their behavior and may engage in some sort of conflict with that officer. Many times they do not intend to resist or arrest or assault a police officer but do not have all of their wits about them. In the event that a police officer is injured it is very likely that the charge of assault with a police officer will be filed. There is a fine line between resisting and insulting a police officer. One question we will ask as the defense is whether or not the police acted lawfully in detaining that individual and using any physical force that they used. If the force was not lawful the charge may not be applicable and could be raised at a jury trial period often we will need to see any video evidence that may be available to see how the encounter happened and who was at fault.