Assault by Public Official; Assault on Public or Elected Official, Juror, Fireman or Peace Officer

Assault on Public

The following crimes involve public employees, or elective officials, as well as Jurors.

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Assault by a Public Official

An assault committed by a public officer who, under color of authority without lawful excuse, assaults or beats a person is punishable by a sentence of up to one year in county jail or by imprisonment in a imprisonment under P.C. 1170(h).

Assault on Public or Elected OfficialAssault on Elected Official

Assaults committed against certain elected or appointed official intended to prevent them from performing their governmental duties, or in retaliation against them for performing their governmental duties is punishable if filed as a misdemeanor with a county jail sentence not to exceed one year, or imprisonment under section 1170(h) if prosecuted as a felony.

The designated officers are:

  • The President or the Vice President.
  • The Governor of any state or territory.
  • Any federal, state, or local justice, present or former judge, or juror.
  • Any commissioner, referee, or other subordinate judicial officer.
  • The secretary or director of any federal, state, or territorial executive agency or department
  • Any other federal, state, or territorial elective official.
  • Any mayor, city council member, county supervisor, sheriff, district attorney, peace officer, or municipal chief of police.
  • A current or former prosecutor or assistant prosecutor of a local, state, or federal prosecutor's office.
  • A present or former public defender or assistant public defender of any local, state, or federal public defender's office.
  • The immediate family of any of these officials.
Assault on JurorsAssault on Juror

Any party to either a civil or criminal jury trial, either during the trial, or afterwards, commits an assault or a battery against a juror or alternate juror can be sentenced as followed if convicted of the crime.

ASSAULT: a county jail commitment not to exceed one year if filed as a misdemeanor; or if filed as a felony imprisonment under section 1170(h). 1

BATTERY: a county jail commitment not to exceed one year if filed as a misdemeanor; a prison sentence of 16 months, two years, or 3 years if filed as a felony. 2

Assault on Peace Officer or Firefighter.

A person convicted of assault with a deadly weapon or instrument, other than a firearm, or by any means likely to produce great bodily injury, on a peace officer or firefighter who is engaged in the performance of their duties and the person “knows or reasonably should know” that they are so engaged, the sentence is prison for 3, 4, or 5 years. 3

  • If the person commits the assault with a firearm, the sentence is prison for 4, 6, or 8 years.4
  • If committed with a semiautomatic firearm, the term is 5, 7, or 9 years.5
  • if committed with a machine gun, assault weapon, or .50 BMG rifle, the term is 6, 9, or 12 years 6

Section 245 of the Penal Code requires a showing that a person “reasonably should know” that the person assaulted was either a peace officer or firefighter.

Having actual knowledge of the identity isn’t necessary, and being drunk is no defense since if it had not been for consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol the perpetrator would have known the identity of the person assaulted. 7


1Section 241.7 of the California Penal Code

2Section 243.7 of the California Penal Code

3Section 245(c) of the California Penal Code

4Section 245(d)(1) of the California Penal Code

5Section 245(d)(2) of the California Penal Code

6Section 245(d)(3) of the California Penal Code

7People v. Finney (1980) 110 C.A.3d 705, 712, 168 C.R. 80.