California always treats assault as a serious criminal act. However, the court prosecutes some acts of assault more harshly than others in the court system. California Penal Code Section 217.1(a): Assault on a Public Official provides an example of a more severe 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 team can even help you review possible legal defenses to an assault on a public official charge.
What Is a Public Officer or Official in California?
Under California Penal code Section 217.1(a): Assault on a Public Official, public officials include:
- 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
Individuals can face PC 217.1(a) charges for assaulting anyone who falls into the above categories. Generally, the prosecution has to show that an individual knew they were dealing with a public official. They may present proof that the alleged victim was:
- Wearing a uniform or distinctive clothing
- Driving some kind of official vehicle, such as a police car
- Carrying out duties associated with their position
A violent crimes lawyer in Los Angeles can help you learn more about this charge.
How does California Define Assault?
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.
You do not even have to touch another person to face assault allegations. Merely using force that could cause an injury is enough to lead to criminal charges.
What Makes Assault on a Public Official Unique?
Basic assault and assault on a public official represent two separate charges in California. PC 217.1(a) charges only apply if an individual assaults either:
- A public official
- An immediate family member of a public official
Under California Penal Code 217.1(a): Assault on a Public Official, immediate family members can include:
- Parents or stepparents
- Children or stepchildren
- Siblings or step siblings
Additionally, 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 these conditions can allow prosecutors to file assault on a public official charge in the California court system.
Is Assault on a Public Official the Same as Battery?
California uses different charges to prosecute assault and battery. Generally, individuals only face charges for battery if they physically touch or injure another person. However, in some situations, individuals can face both assault and battery charges.
What Happens After 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, the court sentences individuals convicted under PC 217.1(a) 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.
How Can a Lawyer Defend PC 217.1(a) Charges?
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you build a defense if you face charges for 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 retaliate against them for a duty they already carried out. Other reasons for assault can lead to simple assault charges, which generally carry lessened penalties.
You Were Acting in Self-Defense
You have a legal right to protect yourself, even from public officials, meaning 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 someone else.
Someone Falsely Accused You of Assault
False accusations are unfortunately common in the legal system in California. You may be subjected to a false allegation for several reasons. Your lawyer can focus on building a case to show that you are innocent if you face an assault on a public official charge that has no basis in fact.
Are There Other Assault Charges in California?
California Penal Code Section 217.1(a): Assault on a Public Official only represents one possible assault charge used in the state.
Depending upon the facts, individuals may also face charges for:
- California Penal Code Section 240: Assault
- California Penal Code Section 244: Assault with Caustic Chemicals
- 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 severe than simple assault.
Build a Defense Against Assault on a Public Official Accusations
You don’t have to try to handle a California 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 us. Get ready for the legal battle ahead by reaching out to us now for a FREE case evaluation.