California always treats assault as a serious criminal act. However, some acts of assault are prosecuted more harshly than others in the court system. CA Penal Code Section 217.1(a): Assault on a Public Official provides an example of a more serious assault accusation.
You can broaden your understanding of the legal applications of PC 217.1(a) right here. Find out how this charge compares to basic assault and learn about the penalties for a conviction. The Simmrin Law Group can even help you go over possible legal defenses to an assault on a public official charge.
Defining Assault in the State of California
An individual can commit assault in California by willfully using force that they know will likely cause someone else a bodily injury. Individuals can be charged with simple assault even if they do not injure another person. Merely using force that could cause an injury is enough to lead to criminal charges.
There are a number of other common assault charges used in the state of California, including:
- California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1): Assault With A Deadly Weapon
- California Penal Code Section 245(a)(2): Assault With A Firearm
These charges, like an assault on a public official, are considered more serious than simple assault.
The Specific Definition of Assault on a Public Official
PC 217.1(a) charges apply if an individual assault is to either:
- A Public Official
- An Immediate Family Member of a Public Official
Note that there is a large number of figures who are considered public officials in the state of California. Individuals may be charged under PC 217.1(a) for assaulting:
- Current or Former Prosecutors or Public Defenders
- Judicial Officers, Commissioners, or Referees
- Judges, Jurors, or Justices
- Governors, Mayors, City Council Members, or Any Elected Official
- Peace Officers, Municipal Chiefs of Police, or Sheriffs
- The U.S. President, Vice President, or Director of Any Executive Agency
Under PC 217.1(a), immediate family members can include:
- Parents or Stepparents
- Children or Stepchildren
- Siblings or Stepsiblings
Finally, individuals must carry out the assault for specific reasons to be prosecuted under PC 217.1(a). Individuals should only face an assault on a public official charge if they commit assault to:
- Retaliate Against the Official Actions Taken by the Public Figure
- Prevent the Official from Performing an Official Duty
Meeting all of these conditions can allow prosecutors to file assault on a public official charge in the California court system.
Results for a PC 217.1(a) Conviction
The court system in California can prosecute a PC 217.1(a) charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. Depending on the severity of the assault, an individual could face:
Misdemeanor Assault on a Public Official Penalties:
- Fines: Up to $1,000
- Jail Time: Up to One Year
Felony Assault on a Public Official Penalties:
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- Jail Time: Up to Three Years
In some cases, individuals convicted under PC 217.1(a) may be sentenced to probation instead of jail time. A misdemeanor conviction can lead to summary probation; felony convictions can result in formal probation and stricter probationary requirements.
Focus on Legal Defenses for PC 217.1(a) Charges
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you build a defense if you are accused of assault on a public official. Some of the common defenses against PC 217.1(a) charges in California can include demonstrating that:
You Didn’t Intend to Stop the Official from Carrying Out Their Duties
PC 217.1(a) charges should only apply if you commit assault to stop a public official from carrying out an official duty or to retaliate against them for a duty they already carried out. Other reasons for assault can lead to simple assault charges, instead, which generally carry lessened penalties.
You Were Acting in Self-Defense
You are legally permitted to protect yourself, even from public officials. This means that you may be able to avoid a conviction under PC 217.1(a) if your lawyer can show that the public official posed a threat to you or to someone else.
You Were Falsely Accused of Assault
False accusations are unfortunately common in the legal system in California. You may be subjected to a false accusation for a number of reasons. Your lawyer can focus on building a case to show that you are innocent if you are facing an assault on a public official charge that has no basis in fact.
Build a Defense Against Assault on a Public Official Accusations
You don’t have to try to handle a CA Penal Code Section 217.1(a): Assault on a Public Official charge on your own. The Simmrin Law Group can offer you professional legal advice right now. You can speak with our criminal defense lawyers by completing our online contact form, or calling (310) 997-4688.
Get ready for the legal battle ahead by reaching out to us now for a FREE case evaluation.