The Different Degrees Of Assault Charges In The State Of California

Interviewer: What does an assault mean as well like what determines the degree of an assault?

Paul Geller: There are various levels of both assault and domestic violence.  We have two most common charges for assault in domestic violence are domestic violence under Penal Code section 273.5 and then, we have a lesser charge that is covered under Penal Code section 243(e). There is also simple assault and battery under Penal Code section 242, and 240 and then there are also various subsections that involve assault and battery on either law enforcement or firefighters for instance etc.  But the majority of the cases that we see as criminal defense attorneys are Penal Code section 242, Penal Code section 243(e) and Penal Code section 273.5.

Assault With a Deadly Weapon is Classified as a Felony Charge under Penal Code Section 245

There is another code section that is a felony strike in California under Penal Code section 245 and that is assault with a deadly weapon or by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury.  So, those are all various code sections that can cover assault depending upon the nature of the contact between the parties.  They also vary by way of either being a misdemeanor or a felony, and the difference being that misdemeanors can carry up to one year in the county jail whereas felonies have the potential for sentencing somebody to state prison.  That’s the main difference between the misdemeanor and a felony.

Mostly the Person Arrested Will be Booked and Held at a Bail Consistent with a Felony

Some of those charges, for instance, 273.5, which is the most common type of domestic violence charge that one will see, can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony.  And it becomes really a decision by the prosecuting agency, the DA’s office, to determine how they want to charge it ultimately in court.  More often than not the person who’s arrested will be booked and held at a bail consistent with the bail schedule at a felony, then the DA’s office prior to the case finding its way in the court will make a determination whether they want to charge it as a felony or as a misdemeanor and that can be dependent upon the nature of the injuries, any repetitive conduct between the parties and more specifically the defendant etc. So, prosecutors have a lot of different tools to deal with and to consider in making a determination as to how they’re going to file that type of a charge.

The Terms Domestic Battery and Family Violence Denote the Same Charges as Those of Domestic Violence

Interviewer: I hear the terms domestic battery and family violence, is that all pretty much the same thing or are there like differences between them?

Paul Geller: No, they’re pretty much the same thing.  I think for the most part, we as a society tend to say domestic violence or domestic abuse.  That really is sort of an all-encompassing term of the various code sections that I described earlier and how cases can be charged. When you start talking about the domestic violence realm, you’re talking cohabitants, husband and wife, people that live together, that type of domestic environment but it can be all encompassing by way of the nature of the injury etc. There are other code sections that spill into “Domestic Violence” such as criminal threats and on definitely much more severe types of charges at the felony level, but it really is an all-encompassing term of all of the situations that we’ve previously described.

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