Assault Against a Police Officer


An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.

Assault is a more serious crime under Penal Code § 241 when the victim is any of the following:

  • Police officer
  • Firefighter
  • Emergency medical technician 
  • Animal control officer
  • Lifeguard
  • Paramedic
  • Traffic officer
  • Search and rescue manner 
  • Nurse or physician 

To be convicted of assault under Penal Code § 241, the prosecution must prove all of the following: 

  1. The defendant did something that was likely to result in the use of force against someone else;
  2. The defendant acted willfully;
  3. The defendant was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that this act would directly and probably result in force being applied to the other person; 
  4. When the defendant acted, he or she had the ability to apply force to the other person; AND
  5. The victim was a police officer acting within the scope of his or her duties.

Penal Code § 245 defines the more serious crime of aggravated assault against a police officer. Aggravated assault is a “wobbler” meaning that it can be punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor. 


Assault against a police officer is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to one year in county jail.


There are many defenses to assault. For example, if you lacked the necessary intent to commit an assault, the prosecution may not be able to prove all of the elements. Similarly, a person who acts in self-defense may be able to defeat a charge under Penal Code § 241.