If you or someone you know has been charged with ‘assault with a deadly weapon’, it’s crucial to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
This is because assault with a deadly weapon is a serious crime in California. If you are convicted, you could face up to 4 years in prison (12 if a firearm was used), so it is important to aggressively fight your charges and preserve your freedom.
What is Assault With a Deadly Weapon?
Let’s start with the definition of simple assault, which is an unlawful attempt to inflict violence on someone else. It doesn’t matter if your attempt produced an actual injury.
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This is the same with assault with a deadly weapon, which is an assault committed with either a “deadly weapon” or enough force to cause “great bodily injury.” Some examples of this are:
- A person pulls a knife on another person outside a nightclub and attempts to stab him.
- In a fit of road rage, a person fires a gun from his car at another person.
- A person spots a coworker walking through an office parking lot, and he attempts to hit the coworker with his car.
In short, a deadly weapon is any object that is capable of producing a “great bodily injury.” This means that objects like pencils, screwdrivers, rocks and cars could all be deadly weapons based on the situation.
Penalty for Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Assault with a deadly weapon (PC 245(a)(1)) is a “wobbler” under California law, meaning that prosecutors can charge it as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case.
You’ll see prosecutors push for tougher penalties in cases where:
- The victim sustained a serious injury.
- The weapon used was more capable of producing serious injury (a pencil vs. a gun).
- Whether the victim was a member of a protected group, such as a law enforcement officer or minority group.
As a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence for assault with a deadly weapon is one year in county jail. As a felony, penalties can rise as high as 4 years, with more years potentially added if a firearm was used or the victim was a protected person.
Defenses against Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Facing charges for assault with a deadly weapon can be a stressful and anxious time. Because the law is so vague, it can seem like there’s no possible way to successfully defend your charges.
However, a criminal defense attorney can examine the facts of your case and work to develop a defense to get your charges reduced or even dropped. Common defenses are:
- Self defense. Maybe you acted only because you felt threatened?
- Intent. Maybe you didn’t mean to inflict an injury on the other person?
- Force/weapon. It might just be that the level of force you used wasn’t enough to qualify as a “deadly weapon.”
Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney that knows California’s assault laws can help you build a defense like this.
About Robert M. Helfend
Robert M. Helfend has served the Los Angeles community for more than 30 years as a criminal defense attorney, successfully defending numerous assault and assault with a deadly weapon cases.
In more than three decades in the courtroom, he has developed winning tactics to fight charges like these. Call today for your free case review – 800-834-6434.