Penal Code 220 PC - Assault with Intent to Commit a Felony

The crime of assault with intent to commit another felony is defined under California Penal Code 220 PC, which is assaulting somebody with the intent to commit a sex crime, such as rape.

Assault with Intent to Commit a Felony - Penal Code 220 PC

Assault is described as applying force on someone when the contact is harmful or offensive and includes slight touch. Notably, it does not have to cause any pain. Common examples of assault include grabbing, pushing, shoving, or slapping someone.

Penal Code 220 PC covers situations where a perpetrator is committing or attempting various felony crimes, and while doing so, they commit a physical assault on another person.    

Notably, PC 220 is not usually filed by itself; prosecutors file it with another underlying charge. If convicted, it's punishable by up to six years in jail and a fine.

If the victim was a minor involving a felony sex crime, then the sentence can be increased to up to nine years in a California state prison. 

This is probably one of the more serious sex crimes that can be leveled against a person.  Penal Code 220 PC is talking about when somebody goes to another person's house, and the police can prove that they were trying to rape that person or do some other sex act to that person. So it's a more general Penal Code Section because it's about committing a felony when you enter someone's home.

But, usually, where we see it being utilized and where somebody is pretty much-acing life is when we have a situation where the individual is breaking into a house. They're raping someone inside the house.  What that person is facing is life in prison. 

The bottom line is, if you or a loved one is charged with burglary with intent to commit rape, you will need the best attorney you can find because, often, the prosecutors will not negotiate in these cases.  They will not even talk about a deal, and the person is facing 25 to life, which means they will have to serve 85% of 25 years before they're even eligible for parole, and there's a possibility that the parole board will not let them out.

What Does the Law Say?

As noted, California Penal Code 220 PC defines the crime of assault with intent to commit a felony, which says “(a)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who assaults another with intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, oral copulation, or any violation of Section 264.1, 288, or 289 shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years.”

Assault with intent to commit a felony sex crime in California

Subsection (2) says that if the assault is against someone under 18 years of age, a defendant shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for up to nine years.

Subsection (b) says, “Any person who, in the commission of a burglary of the first degree, as defined in Section 460, assaults another with intent to a felony sex crime…. shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole.”

California's definition of assault is unprivileged, nonconsensual touching, including a slight touch.  It is not required that the assault victim sustain an injury.

An assault can occur indirectly, such as by throwing something and hitting the victim or striking them with something. In other words, physical contact between both the victim's body and the aggressor is not required. The victim's clothes also count as a part of their body.

What Felony Crimes Are Covered Under PC 220?

The list of felony crimes in California that a defendant must intend to commit an assault under this statute includes the following:

What are the Penalties for PC 220?

If convicted of violating California Penal Code 220 PC, assault with intent to commit another felony, the penalties are severe.

It's always a felony that can't be reduced to a misdemeanor. Suppose the victim was an adult. In that case, the penalties include two, four, or six years in a California state prison. If the victim is under 18, the penalties increase to five, seven, or nine years in state prison. 

Further, Penal Code Section 220(b) imposes a special sentencing enhancement. If they committed first-degree residential burglary, they would face more severe penalties. This aggravating “home invasion” scenario could lead to a life sentence in prison with the possibility of parole.

What are the Defenses for PC 220?

The question becomes if you're charged with burglary with intent to commit rape, and you've got that Section 289 charge pending against you, what do you do?  What we have you do is have you come in and sit down with me.  We go over the whole case. 

If you're the loved one of the person, you'll be able to give whatever perspective you can give.  However, you won't be able to provide me with all the details.  I'm going to need your loved one.  I'll go out and visit them.  Once you've retained me on the case, I will get all of the paperwork on the case – videos, statements – whatever is available, and I will talk to your loved one and devise a plan to deal with the case.

That's either going to be fighting it through a preliminary hearing, a trial, motions – whatever is necessary- or that will involve negotiating with the prosecutors if they've got the evidence of your loved one. They're going to be able to convict them. 

Then we may want to get what's called a 288.1 report which has to do with evaluating them psychologically to see what's going on and coming up with a plan so they can get out of custody at some point and live an everyday life.

If you were accused of a Penal Code 220 offense, our California criminal defense lawyers could use different strategies to obtain the best possible outcome, such as the following:

  • accidental touching,
  • assault not committed for another felony.

To be convicted, the prosecutor has to prove you had the intent to commit an assault. So perhaps we can argue that the nonconsensual touching was accidental to create reasonable doubt.

You must commit the assault in furtherance of the attempt to commit one of the felonies listed above. Perhaps we can argue that your intent was not to commit one of the listed crimes when it occurred.  

If you or a family member was charged with violating Penal Code 220 PC, assault with intent to commit a felony, contact us to review the case details and legal options. Sometimes, we can negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or even get the case dismissed (DA reject).

What About Assault with Intent to Commit Rape?

Penal Code Section 220 technically has to do with assault to commit a felony, but I usually see it charged chiefly when someone is accused of assault to commit a Penal Code 261 PC rape.

Assault with Intent to Commit PC 261 Rape

That usually means that the person attacked is typically a female, and they tried to rape that person but did not effectuate the rape but instead injured the person somehow. The police got involved, and the alleged perpetrator was arrested. They had to post a high bail, and now they're looking for an attorney.

You'll notice some of the other definitions, including assault with intent to commit a felony and adding a bunch of felonies in there.  I don't see it charged as Penal Code Section 220 PC unless it involves some sex crime.

So, if you or a loved one is charged with assault with the intent to commit rape, you want to get the best attorney you can.  So, we have you come into the office, and you will give me all the facts and details about your case. Some of these cases we will defend.  If necessary, we do the preliminary hearing and even a trial to get that not-guilty verdict. 

In other cases, the prosecutors have evidence, such as video, eyewitness, and physical evidence. For example, perhaps you have a prior sex conviction on your record and are now charged with a new charge of assault with the intent to commit rape.

Prosecutors will use the other incidents to try to prove this incident because there may be difficulties because it's a he-said/she-said situation. 

So, to tip the scales in their favor, the prosecutors will use other witnesses from other incidences, maybe even incidences that were never charged against the person. You can contact our law firm for a free case evaluation by phone or using the contact form. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California.

Related Content: