According to reports, Adrian Vergara, 26, pleaded guilty to assaulting a 16-year-old Syrian refugee while using charged racial slurs during the attack. The incident took place on October 15th on board a San Diego trolley at approximately 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. The Syrian refugee was said to be on his way home from school and while he was talking on his phone in Arabic. Vergara pulled an earbud out of the victim’s ear and said, “What trash are you speaking?” The victim told him that he was speaking in the Arabic language and then Vergara verbally attacked him with Islamophobic slurs. He then physically assaulted the 16-year-old, violently striking him up to six times. After the attack, Vergara exited the trolley on 62nd Street in Encanto.
The police confirmed that the victim endured minor facial injuries as a result of the attack. San Diego Police Department Lt. Shawn Takeuchi indicated that through using video footage detectives were able to obtain visual information on Vergara’s appearance. About a week later, the Port of San Diego harbor police arrested Vergara for a misdemeanor narcotics violation. When the authorities had Vergara in custody, he was recognized as the individual who was connected to the San Diego Police Department’s investigation into the hate crime on the young Syrian refugee.
Vergara was charged with and pleaded guilty to assault and a hate crime for which he was sentenced to five years in state prison. Nine days before the assault took place on the trolley in San Diego, there was another hate crime arrest in Little Italy. A man, identified as Kyle Allen, 50, was shoving Muslim women who were wearing hijabs. He was also yelling at them to “go back to (their) country.” Allen is currently facing charges of battery as well as hate crimes.
What is Assault and Battery in California?
Assault and battery charges are commonly referred to as in conjunction with each other but they are not treated the same under the law in California. They are actually two different classifications under the state’s law. California assault law, Penal Code 240 PC, defines assault and battery.
- Assault is when there is an attempted act of using violence or force against another
- Battery is defined as the actual action where force or violence is used against another
Under California law, when a person attacks another and it is classified as a simple battery, it is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2 thousand alone or in combination with a maximum of six months in county jail.
However, the penalties are much higher when a battery inflicts significant injuries and it then becomes known as “aggravated battery.” A person convicted of an aggravated battery may either be facing a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Misdemeanors come with a maximum sentence in the county jail of up to one year while felonies can come with a four-year prison sentence. Continue reading