September 15, 2014
On August 28, officials say two white men assaulted an African American man in Santa Clarita Valley. According to a news report in The Santa Clarita Valley Signal, the incident took place in the parking lot of the Alamo Restaurant on McBean Parkway. Officials say both attackers fled the scene and are being sought by the authorities. The victim complained of dizziness but refused medical treatment. Investigators are looking into whether the assault was a hate crime because the attackers allegedly made racial statements during the incident.
Under California Law, a conviction for simple assault can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a sentence of up to six months in county jail. Simple assault under California Penal Code 240 can increase to battery charges under Penal Code 242 if the alleged attacker inflicted force or violence on someone else. A conviction for battery is much more likely to result in jail time and the potential fine will increase to $2,000.
If the victim of the assault suffered serious bodily injury, the prosecution could pursue aggravated battery charges. This is a much more serious offense that could result in misdemeanor penalties that include a year in a jail or felony penalties that could result in two, three or four years in state prison as well as a $10,000 fine. If a weapon was involved, the resulting charges may include assault with a deadly weapon, which can result in four years in state prison.
There are additional consequences for individuals charged with committing a crime because of the victim's race, color, ancestry, religion, political affiliation, sex, national origin, age, disability or sexual orientation. Under The Ralph Act, individuals who commit violence because of prejudice can face civil penalties of up to $25,000, three times the actual damages but no less than $1,000, punitive damages and injunctive relief. Under The Bane Act, perpetrators of hate crimes may have to pay three times the actual damages but no less than $1,000, and serve up to six months in jail.
Therefore, anyone facing assault related charges would be well advised to seek guidance from a Santa Clarita criminal defense attorney. What may have started as a simple assault can quickly escalate to much more serious charges. It is often necessary to fight the charges head-on with a comprehensive defense to avoid life-changing criminal penalties.