Assault on Police Officer or Firefighter
California Penal Code 245(c) & 245(d)
The laws on the crimes of assault on a police officer or a firefighter are found at California penal code sections 245(c) and 245(d).
To be found guilty of PC 245(c) or 245(d), the district attorney must prove that the defendant:
- willfully did an act that would directly and probably result in force against an officer or firefighter, such as physically attack, punch, kick, shoot at, etc., and
- when the defendant acted he or she was aware of the fact that his or her action would likely lead to great bodily injury to a police officer or a firefighter, and
- when the defendant acted, the law enforcement officer or firefighter was lawfully performing his or her job, and
- when the defendant acted, he reasonably should have known that the person he or she was attacking was a police officer or firefighter (usually the officer or firefighter is in uniform), and
- the defendant was not acting in self defense from police misconduct or clear false imprisonment.
To attempt to apply force against an officer or firefighter simply means that the attempted touching is harmful or offensive; the assault does not have to actually lead to great bodily harm so long as the defendant intended to commit great bodily harm to the officer or firefighter.
Remember, the defendant does not actually have to touch the officer or firefighter for the crime to be complete; it is enough evidence to charge a PC 245(c) or 245(d) when the defendant merely attempts to apply force to an officer or firefighter.
Great bodily injury (usually abbreviated to GBI in the charging document) means a substantial injury...more than moderate or minor.
A deadly weapon used in an assaultive manner can be just about any type of object that is either inherently dangerous (gun, knife, etc.), or one that is capable of causing death or GBI.
For purposes of PC 245(c) and 245(d), an officer is any person who is designated as such by their employer and is placed in charge with enforcing California law or city ordinances. A firefighter is any officer, employee, or member of a government established and operated fire department or firefighting agency, such as Cal Fire, San Bernardino County Fire, Redlands Fire Department, etc.
The crime of assault on a police officer or firefighter is classified as a felony. If found guilty of felony PC 245(c) or 245(d) the defendant could face up to five (5) years in prison. Both PC 245(c) and 245(d) are considered strike offenses under Caifornia's Three Strike law, which means that if the defendant is convicted of the PC 245(c) or 245(d) charges that a subsequent felony conviction will automatically double the defendant's prison exposure; also, PC 245(c) or 245(d) convictions must be served in prison (as opposed to county jail), unless the judge grants probation to the defendant.
In addition to any possible prison commitment, if found guilty of the crime of assault of an officer or firefighter, the defendant could face massive court fines, restitution, stringent probation or parole terms, stay-away orders, loss of professional license (or suspension), loss of immigration status (for non-United States citizens), loss of driving privileges (where the assault on an officer or firefighter is committed using a vehicle [See PC 245(c)], increased future punishment, civil lawsuits, family law consequences, mandatory anger management classes, and more.
Defenses to assault on an officer of firefighter charged under PC 245(c) or 245(d):
There are many possible defenses to a criminal charge of assault on an officer or firefighter charged under PC 245(c) or 245(d). The most common defense is probably insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Consider the following: an assault an officer often times looks like a resisting arrest case, where the defendant is simply using force to resist his or her arrest but not to affirmative assault the officer, or an evading case, where the defendant is simply trying to get away from the officer. Both resisting an officer and evading an officer charges are much preferred to the very serious crime of assault on an officer.
Defenses to crime in general are covered in another article (see Defenses to Crimes). However, the most popular defenses to an assaulting an officer or firefighter case charged under PC 245(c) or 245(d) include: insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, insanity, involuntary intoxication, false arrest, coerced confession, statute of limitations, self-defense, defense or others, suppressed evidence for police misconduct, and more.
In many cases of assault on an officer or firefighter charges it may be possible for the defendant's criminal defense attorney to have the criminal charges dismissed, or have the charge changed to a different charge, or to even have the punishment associated with the charge reduced.
Every PC 245(c) and 245(d) case is different; therefore, whether it is possible to have the criminal charges dismissed, have the criminal charges changed to less severe charges, or have the punishment associated with the criminal charges, lowered depends on the facts and evidence of the individual case.
If you or a loved one is charged with assaulting an officer or firefighter under PC 245(c) or 245(d), contact criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado today. Attorney Dorado has successfully defended against PC 245(c) charges and he has successfully defended and negotiated hundreds of misdemeanor and felony criminal charges.
Attorney Dorado and his team of dedicated criminal defense attorneys are available 24/7 to answer all of your criminal law and procedure questions and there is no charge for a consultation.
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