ASSAULT BY FORCE LIKELY TO PRODUCE GREAT BODILY INJURY
CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE SECTION 245(A)(4)
In California, there are many different kinds of criminal assault. There are assaults with specific types of weapons, i.e., semi-automatic firearms, firearms, or deadly weapons. Or, there are assaults committed on specified people, i.e., police officers, firefighters, or other emergency personnel. Additionally, there are felony assaults and misdemeanor assaults. This article will scratch the surface of the law regarding assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury. (Cal. Pen. Code section 245(a)(4).)
An example of a felony assault, is an assault committed with an amount of force likely to cause great bodily injury. (Cal. Pen. Code section 245(a)(4).) This type of assault is usually charged when there is no deadly weapon or firearm involved. Chuck Norris fans beware, fists are not deadly weapons under California law. In California, to "use" a "weapon" means to use or employ an object extrinsic to the body. Thus, one equipped only with his or her naked hands or fists does not "personally use a dangerous or deadly weapon" within the meaning of the law on California assault. (People v. Davis, (1996) 42 Cal App 4th 806.) An individual is usually charged with assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury when that individual pounds on the alleged victim by either hands, fists, knees or elbows.
So, as stated above, an individual can be charged with assault by force likely to cause great bodily injury when this individual repeatedly strikes another person with closed fists. Whether a fist used in striking person would be likely to produce great bodily injury is to be determined by force of impact, manner in which it was used, and circumstances under which force was applied. (People v. Kinman, (1955) 134 Cal.App.2s 419.) What kind of force is likely to produce great bodily injury is question of fact. (People v. Dewson, (1957) 150 Cal.App.2d 119.) Because reasonable minds can differ as to whether the amount of force used is likely to produce great bodily injury, a prosecutor may charge you with felony assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury when you should only be charged with misdemeanor assault. The difference between a felony and misdemeanor can be significant a prison or jail term and extensive Post Release Community Supervision (i.e., the new parole for non-Strike offenses) or probation conditions.
The punishment for assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury is as follows. Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment. Notice that assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury is not eligible for a local county jail sentence if the individual is sentence to prison under Assembly Bill 109 (Realignment), California Penal Code section 1170(h). This means, that an individual sent to prison for a felony assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury will serve his or her sentence in state prison.
There is a lot of information regarding the criminal law of assault that can fill a whole book. If you are charged with a crime of felony or misdemeanor assault, give Nafiz M. Ahmed of Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law, a call today to discuss your case and defenses.