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What’s the Difference Between ‘Simple’ and ‘Aggravated’ Assault in the State of California?


Before we go any further, it is important for you to understand that if you’ve been charged with assault, you need to respect that charge and speak with a criminal defense attorney. While there is a difference between simple and aggravated assault both under the law and in the public eye, both are extremely serious charges that should not be treated lightly.

The main difference between simple and aggravated assault in CA is the severity of the assault. While ‘simple’ assault can be a threat or the mere intent to cause harm, ‘aggravated’ assault is typically reserved for more serious acts of violence which result in significant injury or were conducted with the use of a deadly weapon. If an assault happens during another crime, such as rape or burglary, that assault is automatically termed an aggravated assault.

What Are Examples of Simple Assault?

Simple assault does not even have to result in actual harm befalling anybody else. Someone could be found guilty of simple assault for the spoken threat to cause harm or the failed attempt to hurt another person. Examples of simple assault include:

  • Any unwanted physical touching without the other person’s consent.
  • Attempting to punch or kick someone but the attack is avoided.
  • Threatening bodily harm with words or raised fists.
  • Throwing something at someone.

Those convicted of simple assault are believed to have posed a real threat, were acting willfully and were not acting in defense of themselves or another person.

What Are Examples of Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault is not a plainly stated law in the state of California. An assault is ‘aggravated’ when it rises above the severity, which can be applied to a ‘simple’ assault. Aggravated assault usually results in physical harm befalling another person.

Examples of aggravated assault include:

  • Assault on a police officer, firefighter, or school employee.
  • Assault on a pregnant person.
  • Assault with a deadly weapon, like a knife, baseball bat, or hammer.
  • Attacks on another person which cause significant physical harm, such as broken bones.
  • Attempts to disfigure another person with chemicals.
  • Purposefully hitting someone with your car.
  • Use of a firearm during an assault. The gun does not need to be fired.
  • Any action which includes the intent to murder, rape, kill, disfigure, or dismember another living person can be aggravated assault.

What Defenses Are Available to Those Accused of Assault?

If you’ve been charged with assault, it is important that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer ASAP so that you have a better hope of building a winning defense case.

Your attorney may be able to establish that you were falsely accused, that you did not act with violent intent or were mistakenly identified in the crime, or that you acted in self-defense or in defense of others. Contact our law firm at (949) 990-4195 for legal assistance today.

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