California Penal Code Sec 240: The Crime of Assault in California

The crime of assault is committed when there is an unlawful attempt to commit a crime together with an ability to commit the crime. Under Sec 240 of the California Penal Code, this crime is committed with the following:

  • The individual attempted to commit a violent act;
  • The individual had the ability to commit the violent act;

There need not be any injury sustained by the victim. When there is no injury, the crime is categorized as a misdemeanor offense and is called simple assault. When the crime of assault is committed through the use of a deadly weapon or any instrument that can cause great bodily harm, then the crime is categorized as aggravated assault.

In order to understand the full aspect of the crime of assault, the following need to be considered:

  • There is the clear intent of committing the act but there is no intent to inflict injury upon the victim nor violate the law;
  • The crime is completed through the performance of any kind of physical contact, regardless of the degree that is done in an offensive manner. This completes the dual elements of intent together with the ability to commit the crime;
  • The individual is aware that the commission of the crime would result in harm or injury. The absence of this awareness would not make this a criminal act;


For a misdemeanor offense, summary probation of up to three (3) years, prison time of up to six (6) months in county penitentiary, payment of fines amounting to $1,000, required attendance in a rehabilitation program and community service.

For more information on charges for California Penal Code Sec 240 based on assault, contact our criminal defense attorneys for a consultation on the circumstances relating to your case.


For more information about our services and the options in your case, please call our office and schedule a free consultation.


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