CALCRIM No. 915. Simple Assault (Pen. Code, § 240)
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2020 edition)Download PDF
(iv) Simple Assault
915.Simple Assault (Pen. Code, § 240)
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with assault [in violation of
Penal Code section 240].
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must
1. The defendant did an act that by its nature would directly and
probably result in the application of force to a person;
2. The defendant did that act willfully;
3. When the defendant acted, (he/she) was aware of facts that would
lead a reasonable person to realize that (his/her) act by its nature
would directly and probably result in the application of force to
4. When the defendant acted, (he/she) had the present ability to
apply force to a person(;/.)
<Give element 5 when instructing on self-defense or defense of another.>
5. The defendant did not act (in self-defense/ [or] in defense of
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on
purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt
someone else, or gain any advantage.
The terms application of force and apply force mean to touch in a
harmful or offensive manner. The slightest touching can be enough if it
is done in a rude or angry way. Making contact with another person,
including through his or her clothing, is enough. The touching does not
have to cause pain or injury of any kind.
[The touching can be done indirectly by causing an object [or someone
else] to touch the other person.]
[The People are not required to prove that the defendant actually
The People are not required to prove that the defendant actually
intended to use force against someone when (he/she) acted.
No one needs to actually have been injured by the defendant’s act. But if
someone was injured, you may consider that fact, along with all the
other evidence, in deciding whether the defendant committed an assault[,
and if so, what kind of assault it was].
[Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to assault.]
New January 2006; Revised February 2014
The court has a sua sponte duty to give an instruction defining the elements of the
If there is sufficient evidence of self-defense or defense of another, the court has a
sua sponte duty to instruct on the defense. Give bracketed element 5 and any
appropriate defense instructions. (See CALCRIM Nos. 3470-3477.)
Do not give an attempt instruction in conjunction with this instruction. There is no
crime of “attempted assault” in California. (In re James M. (1973) 9 Cal.3d 517,
519, 521-522 [108 Cal.Rptr. 89, 510 P.2d 33].)
• Elements. Pen. Code, § 240.
• Willful Defined. Pen. Code, § 7(1); People v. Lara (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102,
107 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402].
• Mental State for Assault. People v. Williams (2001) 26 Cal.4th 779, 790 [111
Cal.Rptr.2d 114, 29 P.3d 197]; People v. Wright (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 703,
706 [123 Cal.Rptr.2d 494].
• Least Touching. People v. Myers (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 328, 335 [71
Cal.Rptr.2d 518] [citing People v. Rocha (1971) 3 Cal.3d 893, 899-900, fn. 12
[92 Cal.Rptr. 172, 479 P.2d 372]].
• This Instruction Upheld. People v. Ibarra (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 1174,
1193-1195 [67 Cal.Rptr.3d 871].
The doctrine of transferred intent does not apply to general intent crimes such as
assault. (People v. Lee (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 1724, 1737 [34 Cal.Rptr.2d 723].)
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (4th ed. 2012) Crimes Against the
Person, §§ 6-12, 16.
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 142, Crimes
Against the Person, § 142.11 (Matthew Bender).
CALCRIM No. 915 ASSAULTIVE AND BATTERY CRIMES