What is the test for sufficiency of evidence in an assault case?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Pompa, G050441 (Cal. App. 2015):

"When a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, '"[t]he court must review the whole record in the light most favorable to the judgment below to determine whether it discloses substantial evidencethat is, evidence which is reasonable, credible, and of solid valuesuch that a reasonable trier of fact could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."'" (People v. Clark (2011) 52 Cal.4th 856, 942-943.)

"An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another." (Pen. Code, 240.) The present ability element "is satisfied when 'a defendant has attained the means and location to strike immediately.' [Citations.] In this context, however, 'immediately' does not mean 'instantaneously.' It simply means that the defendant must have the ability to inflict injury on the present occasion. Numerous California cases establish that an assault may be committed even if the defendant is several steps away from actually inflicting injury, or if the victim is in a protected position so that injury would not be 'immediate,' in the strictest sense of that term." (People v. Chance (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1164, 1168, fn. omitted.)

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