What Constitutes Assault In Orange County, CA?

These days, people are used to slinging insults and threats around as if there are no repercussions. While many people refrain from responding with violence, others have trouble letting jerks be rude to them, their spouse, or their children without responding in a threatening way.

In today’s legal landscape, those who respond in a threatening way are usually the ones that are subjected to legal consequences, the most common being a violation of Penal Code 240.

According to Penal Code Section 240, assault is described as a criminal offence that occurs when a person intentionally and unlawfully threatens or causes bodily harm to another person, by his actions or words. In addition, the person has to be capable of causing such harm at that time resulting in another person being afraid that they will be harmed imminently.

This leaves a lot of room for a-holes to be jerks and get away with it, but that is the world that we live in, and “knights in shining armor” are going to have to adjust to avoid jail.

What situations will get me arrested for assault?

Is the technical definition of assault leaving you confused? You’re not alone. The following is clarification to help better understand what constitutes assault and what constitutes battery:

  • Battery requires actual, harmful and intentional contact, while
  • Assault does not require contact.


  • If you are hanging out at a Newport Beach nightclub and unsuccessfully try to punch someone, you could easily be charged with assault. Even if you end up throwing a Champagne bottle or any other object and miss, you could still be charged with assault, however, it might become “aggravated assault”, which will be further explained below.

Your actions would have to actually come into contact and harm the intended target for it to be considered a battery offense.

Does threatening someone verbally mean I have assaulted the person?

Not unless your actions imply your threat is about to be carried out. For it to be an assault, there must be reasonable evidence that you were intending to act on that threat at the time in which you made it.


  • For example, say you are spending time with your girlfriend at an OC hot spot and someone offers up their best pick up lines to steal her away from you, telling them that they better back off before they get their face messed up, and pulling your fist up as if you are about to strike that person, could easily be considered an assault.
  • However, if, in that same situation, you said “you better back off” and you do not raise your fist, it would be much more difficult to prove that you were an immediate threat, which is a requirement for being convicted of assault.

Orange County Assault cases range from simple assault, which is less serious and often results in a relatively minor injury, to the more serious aggravated assault, which often includes the use of weapons and causes serious injury.

When injuries occur after an assault, the accused is almost always charged with assault as well as battery.

When does assault become aggravated?

Aggravated assaults are generally assaults that have the potential to inflict life-threatening injuries or are perpetrated against members of the so-called “protected class”.

The following actions will usually result in aggravated assault charges:

  • Hitting or pretending to hit someone with an object.
  • Threatening someone at gunpoint or actually discharging a firearm at someone.
  • Assaulting members of the protected class, such as cops, correctional officers, registered nurses or elderly persons.

Typically, an aggravated assault conviction is based on the following:

  • The exact degree or severity of the assault,
  • Occurrence of injury,
  • Presence or absence of a weapon,
  • Previous misdemeanor of the accused, and
  • Whether the assault was on a member of the protected class.

Assault Defense in Orange County and Southern California

If you have been charged with committing assault in Orange County, speaking with an Orange County assault attorney about your case is very important. A skilled assault defense attorney will be able to help determine whether the prosecution has enough evidence to convince a judge and/or jury that an assault was committed.

To obtain a free case evaluation from an attorney at the Law Offices of Randy Collins, call What Constitutes Assault In Orange County, CA?. The Law Offices of Randy Collins has extensive experience assisting assault defendants and has office locations in Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Fullerton, as well as Riverside, CA.