It could have happened to anyone. The weekend arrives and you decide to go out for a quiet beer with some friends. What you don’t expect is to be accosted for refusing to give someone a sip of that hard-earned beverage. Yet, this is exactly what happened in San Francisco Excelsior neighborhood this past weekend. A man, was standing outside of a local watering hole when he was approached by another individual, who wanted a taste. When the beer-drinker refused, the stranger took the bottle from him, hit him over the head, and stole his cell phone. The assailant may have been a bit inebriated, but what he did constitutes assault under California law.
CA Penal Code §240 covers assault and the exposure for this crime ranges anywhere from 6 months in county jail, community service, and a $1,000 fine up to 4 years in state prison, a $10,000 fine, and anger management classes. This is because assault is a “wobbler,” which means that it can be considered a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. The man who smashed a beer bottle over a stranger’s head may eventually be arrested for “battery” because he did more than simply threaten the beer-sipping stranger – he actually hit him with a bottle. He could also be charged with robbery. Whether a beer bottle is considered a “deadly weapon” will be something for the courts to consider if this case ever goes to trial.