Assaulting a Police Officer

California Penal Code Section 241(c) – Assault on Police Officer

The crime of assaulting a police officer is covered under California Penal Code Section 241(c). In Los Angeles County, any assault or battery against a police officer or emergency personnel is considered a serious matter. If you willfully use or threaten violence against another person, it’s a crime in California under assault and battery laws. When you assault law enforcement or firefighters in violation of Penal Code 241(c), you will be facing more severe legal consequences than an assault against other people. In Los Angeles County, it’s not that uncommon for individuals to be falsely accused of assault on a police officer. In just a quick moment when you are in contact with a police officer, the situation escalates and the scene can become chaotic. Police officers may misunderstand your words or behavior and sometimes overact. If they believe you are not respecting their authority, you could find yourself facing false charges and wrongful prosecution for assault of a police officer under PC 241(c).

If you or a family member has been accused of assaulting a police officer, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense a lawyer at the Goldstein Law Group can help you understand the charges you are facing and start preparation of a strategy to defend you against the charges. Don’t take the situation lightly as among violent crime laws, offenses against law enforcement can result in a harsh sentence. You will need skilled legal representation to have the best chance at a favorable outcome. Assault and battery crimes against a police officer is typically a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony crime by the Los Angeles County prosecutor. Let’s examine below the specific statues dealing with assault on a police officer, legal penalties, and potential legal defenses.

California Assault Laws Against Police Officers

There are a variety of statutes under the California Penal Code that deal with assault, battery, or obstruction of a police officer. California Penal Code Section 241(c) specifically defines assault on a police officer as follows:

(c) When an assault is committed against a peace officer or emergency personnel engaged in the performance of their duties, and the person committing the offense knows or should have known the victim is a peace officer engaged in their duties, the assault is punishable by up to one year in the county jail, a fine up to $2,000, or both jail and a fine.

This legal definition above has key factors that must be proven for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to convict you of violating Penal Code Section 241(c). CALCRIM 900 Jury Instructions list what is commonly known as “elements of the crime” and include the following:

  • The victim was a police officer or emergency personnel performing their duties
  • You willfully and unlawfully touched the victim in an offensive manner
  • You knew, or should have reasonably known, the victim was a police officer or emergency personnel performing their duty

Let’s take a look at what is considered an “assault” under California law. Penal Code Section 240 describes as assault as an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury on another person. The act must be willful and likely to result in the use of force against someone, and you had the ability to apply force. It should be noted that PC 241(c) is typically used to prosecute assault cases against law enforcement officers, such as police officers, sheriff deputies. and California Highway Patrol officers. However, it can also include a long list of other professionals, such as firefighters, emergency medical technicians, traffic officers, security guards, animal control officers, among many others.

It should be noted that Penal Code Section 241(c) only applies if the assault occurred when the police officer was engaged in the performance of their duties. Unlawfully touching the police officer in an offensive manner can include the slightest touch if it is done in a rude or angry manner. The touching doesn’t have to cause any type of pain or injury.  The term “willfully” simply means it was on purpose.

Legal Penalties for PC 241(c) Assault on a Police Officer

If you are convicted of assault of a police officer in violation of California Penal Code Section 241(c), you could face up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail and a fine up to $1,000. However, if the police officer suffers and injury and you are charged with the more serious offense of battery on a police officer under California Penal Code Section 243(b), you could face more severe penalties.

Related Offenses for PC 241(c) Assault on a Police Officer

California Penal Code Section 240 – Assault
California Penal Code Section 242 – Battery
California Penal Code Section 243(b) – Battery on Peace Officer (misdemeanor)
California Penal Code Section 243(c) – Battery on Peace Officer (wobbler)
California Penal Code Section 243(d) – Battery on Peace Officer (serious injury)
California Penal Code Section 148(b) – Resisting Arrest
California Penal Code Section 417 – Brandishing a Weapon

Legal Defenses for PC 241(c) Assault on a Police Officer

In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to convict you for assaulting a police officer, they must be able to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, you “knew or reasonably should have known” the alleged victim was a police officer engaging in the performance of their duties. In some cases, this could be subjective and our experienced criminal defense lawyers may be able to cast some reasonable doubt.

We will closely examine the details that indicate the person was a police officer. For example, the common indicators of someone being a police officer include their identifiable and distinctive uniforms and their clearly marked squad cars. What about if they were an undercover officer not in uniform? Perhaps you didn’t know they were a police officer who was performing their duty.

Another potential legal defense includes a self-defense argument. In some cases, we may be able to show you reasonably believed you or someone else was in imminent danger of suffering a bodily injury or being touched unlawfully, and the force you used against the officer was necessary to defend yourself.

Finally, in certain cases, we might be able you were falsely accused of assaulting the police officer. Perhaps the officer became angry after you didn’t follow his commands to the letter or you were argumentative. An overzealous police officer may falsely accuse you of assault out of anger or revenge.

 Contact our Criminal Law Firm for Help

If you have been accused of assaulting a police officer, a conviction can result in serious penalties, a permanent criminal record, and life-altering impact on your personal and professional life. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at the Goldstein Law Group will thoroughly review the details of your case to develop a strategy to obtain the best possible outcome. We have a history of success defending clients against offenses against police officers. We might be able to get your charges reduced, dismissed, or obtain alternative sentencing instead of jail time. We serve clients throughout Los Angeles County from our Hollywood office located at 1645 Vine St #809 Los Angeles, CA 90028. Contact our law firm at 323-461-2000 to learn how we can help you.