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What are some defenses to assault charges?

Dec 1, 2022 | Violent Crimes

California law treats any intentional act that results in applying force to another person as assault unless you can prove you were defending yourself or someone else. You can find the definition of assault in the California penal code §240.

What are some defenses to assault charges?

Requirements for an assault conviction

The prosecution must prove several things to obtain a conviction on assault charges:

  • You intentionally did something that by its nature would result in applying force to another person.
  • You knew that your actions would probably result in applying force on another person.
  • You were capable of applying force at the time you took the action.
  • You were not defending yourself or someone else.

Assault defenses

Self-defense is the most common defense to assault charges. This defense asserts that the defendant acted to defend themselves or another person against the person the defendant allegedly assaulted.

Lack of intent is another common defense. This defense asserts that you did not intend to apply force to the victim. As an example, if you knock someone down because someone else bumps into you on the sidewalk, your defense to assault could be that your action was the result of the push and you did not intend to knock anyone down.

A lack of ability to use force is another possible defense. This defense may apply if someone accuses you of assault because of a perceived threat, but you had no actual ability to carry out that threat.

There are multiple potential defenses to assault charges. The key to a successful defense is proving that at least one of the required elements of an assault charge is not valid.