The state is notorious for having one of the highest violent crime rates in the country, and many have decried recent legislative changes that some claim to essentially decriminalize violent offenses. While it’s true that California law recommends lighter penalties for most assault charges compared to other states, a defendant can still face a host of negative repercussions if they are convicted of any assault charge. Unfortunately, many people arrested for assault-related offenses are not entirely aware of the constitutional rights that come into play once a police officer places them under arrest.
Under the Fifth Amendment, you are not required to act as a witness against yourself, and you are under no obligation to answer any questions from the police. Some people believe that remaining silent during an arrest is a tacit admission of guilt, but the reality is that the police have no incentive to help a defendant prove their innocence but plenty of motivation to seek a conviction as swiftly as possible. Do not assume you can explain your way out of an arrest. It’s more likely that the police will use your statements against you, and you will unintentionally make your situation worse.
Under the Sixth Amendment, you are guaranteed the right to legal counsel when you are accused of any crime. Common misconceptions surround the right to representation, as many people mistakenly assume that hiring an attorney is the same as admitting you committed the offense in question. Criminal defense representation you can trust is crucial regardless of your guilt or innocence. If you did not commit the offense in question, your Riverside assault defense attorney could help you establish an alibi or highlight the problems with the prosecution’s case to prove you were wrongfully charged. If you did commit some form of assault, you have the best chance of presenting a credible defense and minimizing your penalties with a defense attorney’s assistance.
Any defendant who cannot afford to hire private defense representation or any defendant who does not want to pay a private defense attorney’s fees can elect to have a public defender assigned to their case by the court at no cost. This may seem like a prudent option to avoid expensive legal fees, but if you are able to hire a private Riverside assault defense attorney, you can expect a more robust level of representation than even the best public defenders can offer. While most Riverside public defenders are hardworking, experienced, and capable attorneys, they are inherently unable to provide their clients with much individual attention due to the fact that they must handle several cases at a time. Therefore, it is always worth investing in the highest quality defense counsel you can if you want the best chance of reaching a favorable outcome in your case.
Understanding Assault Charges in Riverside
The California Penal Code defines assault as the intentional presentation of an imminent threat of harm to another party. Physical contact is not required for an incident to qualify as an assault. For example, if two people are arguing and one throws a punch at the other but misses and does not make any physical contact, they still have committed an assault since they presented a threat and attempted to follow through with it. This presentation of a threat of violence without making physical contact with the victim is a “simple assault.” A defendant could face a misdemeanor conviction that carries a penalty that can reach $1,000 in fines and up to six months in county jail.
“Battery” is the legal term to describe making physical contact with another party with a desire to inflict harm. “Assault and battery” is making a threat and then following through with that threat. So, for example, threatening to hit someone is an assault, but threatening to hit them and then actually hitting them would be assault and battery. Battery can be a misdemeanor or felony (that’s why it’s often called a wobbler offense); it depends on the details of the situation. When charged as a misdemeanor, penalties can include up to six months in county jail and a fine of $2,000. At the felony level, the defendant could face up to four years in state prison. Defendants will also face restitution to the victim and/or liability for the civil damages they caused.
“Assault with a deadly weapon” is any incident in which a defendant commits an assault or assault and battery using any implement capable of inflicting severe or fatal injuries. This implement could be a knife, bladed weapon, club or bludgeon, or firearm. The defendant could face either a misdemeanor or felony conviction for this offense. At the misdemeanor level, they may face up to one year in county jail and a fine that can reach $1,000. At the felony level, they could go to prison for four years and face a fine that can reach $10,000.
Many assault cases not only involve some form of assault charge, but these cases may also entail various other offenses. For example, if a person attempted to commit an armed robbery and threatened the victim with a deadly weapon through the course of events, they would face a charge of armed robbery and a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. This will dramatically increase the penalties they will face for a conviction. Other variables that may arise in an assault case include assault and/or battery of a public official or peace officer, terroristic or criminal threats, and disturbing the peace.
What to Do During and After an Arrest in Riverside County
An arrest can be a distressing and even traumatizing experience, especially if you have been wrongfully accused of an assault you did not commit. On the other hand, if you did commit a criminal offense, it is natural to worry about the possible penalties if you are convicted. In either situation, your actions during and after an arrest can have profound effects on the proceedings ahead of you.
The police in Riverside must read you your Miranda rights when they place you under arrest for any crime. An arrest will typically begin with the police officer informing the suspect they are under arrest for a specific offense, such as an assault or assault, and battery. They will then inform the suspect of their Miranda rights as they take them into custody, and the suspect will be booked at the officer’s precinct or a police station. It is vital to exercise your right to remain silent during this process. When the arresting officer reads your Miranda rights, they will inform you that you have the right to remain silent, and anything you say could be used against you in court. Take them at their word and remain silent until you are able to speak with a Riverside assault defense attorney.
After arrest and booking, a suspect may be remanded to police custody until they post bail, but recent legislative changes prevent the police from holding certain defendants charged with certain types of assault. If you are released from custody or post bail, you will be assigned a court date and must appear at the designated time or face a bench warrant and subsequent arrest. Missing a court date not only carries its own penalties but will also enhance the penalties assigned for the initial offense.
Defenses in Assault Charges Cases
When you are charged with a crime, the prosecutor filing the case has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors meet their burden of proof by leveraging physical evidence and witness testimony. Your Riverside assault defense attorney’s job is to prevent the prosecution from meeting their burden of proof.
There are several defenses that may come into play in an assault case, the most commonly asserted being self-defense. You are allowed to respond to violence in kind if another person attacks you. Self-defense is to prevent injury, not cause it, so you cannot be convicted of assault if you can prove that you only acted to protect yourself or another person from an imminent threat.
It is also possible to assert the defense that you were not capable of committing harm in the situation in question. For example, if you are charged with assault for making a threat but there was no way you could have followed through with the threat, the alleged “victim” could not assert that you presented an imminent threat of harm. It is also possible to show that you did not act willfully, meaning that the alleged victim misinterpreted your actions, and you had no real desire to harm.
Unfortunately, some people are falsely accused of assault for vindictive reasons. If another party has falsely accused you of any type of assault, it can be incredibly distressing to be arrested for a crime you know you did not commit. An experienced Riverside assault defense attorney is the best asset in this situation. They can help you determine the best way to establish your alibi and clear your name. If you can prove you were the victim of a malicious false accusation, you could have grounds for legal recourse against your accuser.
Preliminary Stages of an Assault Crime Case in Riverside
After arrest and booking for any assault charge, the suspect will either remain in police custody until their preliminary hearing, post bail to leave custody until their court date, or they could be released on their own recognizance. They will have a court date and must attend this preliminary hearing or arraignment. This is a formal reading of the charges against the defendant and an opportunity for the defendant to enter a plea. If the defendant pleads “guilty,” the case proceeds to sentencing. If they plead “no contest,” they are not admitting guilt but have no intention of fighting the charge in question.
A criminal trial will begin if the defendant enters a “not guilty” plea. The defense and the prosecution must share the evidence and case materials they plan to use through the discovery process. The early stages of a criminal case also commonly include depositions, and both parties have the right to file pretrial motions. A pretrial motion may aim to have certain evidence barred from admission, calling procedural errors into question or highlighting any justice system failures that have occurred since the defendant’s arrest.
In a criminal trial, the prosecution aims to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by effectively leveraging evidence and witness testimony. Prosecutors must follow strict rules when presenting their evidence and testimony, and your defense attorney will call out any failures or missteps in this regard. The US criminal justice system hinges on the concept of “innocent until proven guilty,” and a defendant’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, a defendant can only be convicted with a unanimous jury verdict.
What Is Plea Bargaining?
Every defendant has the right to present evidence and testimony to counteract a prosecutor’s case against them. However, if you know you committed the assault in question and the prosecution has all the evidence they need to convict you, enduring a protracted trial does not serve the defendant’s interests and typically amounts to a waste of court resources. As a result, prosecutors are sometimes willing to make plea deals with certain defendants, typically those charged with their first criminal offenses.
When a defendant is clearly guilty, and the prosecution is fully confident in its ability to secure a conviction, a plea bargain could provide benefits to both parties. If the defendant submits an immediate guilty plea, this removes the need for a protracted trial and conserves court resources. In exchange, the prosecution could be willing to reduce or drop certain charges or lower the defendant’s penalty. For example, if the defendant committed a “wobbler” that technically but barely qualifies for felony prosecution, the prosecution could offer to reduce the charge to the misdemeanor level in exchange for a guilty plea and swift proceedings.
For some defendants, plea bargaining is the best option available to them. You should consult your attorney closely if unsure whether you should consider a plea deal. When you choose My Socal Lawyers to handle your assault case defense, we will carefully examine the strength of the prosecution’s evidence. If any plea deals are offered, we can evaluate them to determine whether such an agreement would suit your best interests.
What to Expect From Your Riverside Assault Criminal Defense Attorney
When you have defense representation from a reliable attorney, it is easier to approach your case with confidence and peace of mind. Your situation may feel desperate due to the severe penalties typically issued for an assault conviction. Having experienced defense counsel means you have the best chance of avoiding conviction if possible. If a conviction is certain, you will have a much better chance of minimizing your sentence.
My Socal Lawyers offers years of experience in criminal defense. We have represented many clients in the Riverside area and are keenly familiar with how local prosecutors handle assault cases. Our team knows the tactics the prosecution will likely use in your impending case and how to reveal every defensive option available. We know you probably have lots of pressing legal questions after an arrest for assault, and we can provide the answers and support you need in this challenging situation.
Time is a crucial factor for any defendant charged with assault in Riverside. After you are arrested and booked, you should speak with a Riverside assault defense attorney as soon as possible so they can begin working on your defense. If you or a loved one is charged with assault, My Socal Lawyers is ready to provide your defense counsel. Contact us today and schedule your consultation with an experienced and responsive Riverside assault defense attorney.