Assaulting a police officer is not taken lightly in a court of law. Given the nature of their job, harming a police officer while they are performing their duty is considered a crime. In this article, we will define what an assault is, who is included under this category, as well as the penalties for assaulting a police officer.

What is an assault?

An assault is the intentional and unlawful touching of another person resulting in the injury of the victim. In addition, if the assailant made a threat to harm someone and it appeared that they would take action to make good on the threat, but didn’t follow through, the assailant can still be charged with an assault. For example, if Cain threatened to hit Able with a spike as he held up the spike, and a police officer stopped Cain from hitting Able, Cain can still be charged with assault even though he didn’t harm Able. This is because Cain struck fear in Able, making Able reasonably believe that he was going to be harmed.

If the assault does not have an aggravating factor (use of an object that can be used to inflict serious bodily harm), then the penalty for an assault is typically a short jail sentence in county jail and/or a fine. The crime is considered to be a misdemeanor.

What does assaulting a police officer include?

If an assailant assaults a police officer, the court will consider it to be a crime against justice. Therefore, an assault on a police officer has its own set of laws surrounding the crime. California law treats this more harshly when the officer receives a bodily injury from the assailant.

pc 148

The prosecution will show the court that the following conditions were met when the assault on the police officer was made.

  • The victim was a police officer engaged in performing their duty.
  • The assailant intentionally touched the officer in an unlawful and offensive manner.
  • The assailant reasonably knew that they were acting against an officer as opposed to a civilian.

Examples of Assaulting a Police Officer.

  • A person pushes a police officer away while attempting to resist arrest.
  • During a traffic stop, the driver yanks on the traffic officer’s arm when the officer hands back the driver’s license.
  • A person threatens an Animal Control Officer with a knife. 

Who is included under the term “police officer”?

California Penal Code Section 243 lays out who is included under the term “police officer’. The following are a few positions that are included under this umbrella term.

  • Peace Officer
  • Custodial Officer
  • Firefighter
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Lifeguard
  • Security Officer
  • Custody Assistant
  • Process Server
  • Traffic Officer
  • Code Enforcement Officer
  • Animal Control Officer
  • Search and Rescue Members engaged in the performance of their duties

Which related offenses can someone be expected to be charged with?

A person who assaults a police officer can reasonably expect to be charged with other related offenses. Each offense carries its own legal guidelines and penalties.

Resisting Arrest – If someone assaults a police officer while the officer is arresting the individual, under PC Section 148, the individual can be charged with resisting arrest. Resisting an arrest also includes obstruction of an officer from allowing them to perform their duty.

Public Intoxication – Under PC Section 647(f), it is illegal to be drunk in public. A person is considered to be drunk when they are not able to control themself. A police officer can detain an individual who is publicly intoxicated to allow them to become sober in a safe environment. If an individual assaulted a police officer while intoxicated in public, this offense can be added to the list of charges as well.

What are some defenses for an assault on a police officer?

  • Lack of knowledge that the victim was a police officer.
  • Self-defense if the officer used excessive force when arresting the assailant.
  • Non-intentional touching of the officer.
  • Violation of constitutional rights.

What is the minimum sentence for assaulting a police officer

The fine is up to $2,000.00 and/or a jail sentence of up to one year. This is if the assault is considered to be a misdemeanor. However, if the assault is considered to be a felony, the charges are up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.00.

Need Expert Advice?

Navigating the aftermath of an assault can be complicated as there is the added factor of the assault being caused to a police officer. If you or someone you love needs someone who can help you in court, contact David L. Faulkner.

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