According to California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon is an unlawful attempt to cause bodily harm to another person using a weapon or using force likely to cause great bodily harm.
California Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Prosecutor must establish the following elements to prove an allegation of assault with a deadly weapon.
- Defendant committed assault with a deadly weapon that by its nature would likely and directly result in the application of force on another one or the defendant didn’t use a weapon but used force likely to produce great bodily injury
- Defendant acted intentionally
- Defendant was aware of facts that would cause a reasonable person to understand that the act would directly and probably result in the use of force to another one
- Defendant had the present ability to use force on another person
What is a Deadly Weapon?
Deadly weapon is defined as any object or instrument that is inherently deadly or which can be used in such a way as to cause death or great bodily harm.
Legal Defenses to PC Section 245(a)(1) Charges
Some common defenses to an assault with a deadly weapon charge?
- Self Defense: Defendant can argue that he was acting in his own defense or the defense of another person.
- Consent: Defendant can argue that the victim agreed with his conduct
- False Facts: Defendant can argue that the allegations against him are inappropriate or false.
- Involuntary Act: Defendant can argue that the action which caused the assault was unintentional or involuntary.
Penalties for Violating California PC Section 245(a)(1)
In California assault with a deadly weapon is considered a “wobbler”, and can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor offense depending on the case facts and defendant’s criminal record. The prosecution will take into account different factors such as the type of weapon, the extent of the victim’s injuries and the manner in which the assault was conducted.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Assault with Deadly Weapon Conviction
Penalties for misdemeanor assault with deadly weapon conviction are the following:
- Up to one year in a county jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Misdemeanor probation
Penalties for Felony Assault with Deadly Weapon Conviction
Penalties for felony assault with deadly weapon conviction are the following:
- Up to 4 years in a county jail
- A fine of up to$10,000.
- Felony probation
There are some factors that can increase the penalties beyond this range.
- Use of a semiautomatic weapon
The defendant can be sentenced to up to 9 years in prison if he is convicted of assault using a semiautomatic firearm such as a rifle or handgun.
- Use of an automatic weapon
The defendant can be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison if he is convicted of an assault using an automatic weapon such as a .50 BMG rifle, machine-gun or an assault weapon.
- The victim was a firefighter or police officer
The defendant can be sentenced to up 12 years in prison if the victim was a police officer or firefighter on duty at the time the assault took place.
- Felony Strike
A felony conviction under PC Section 245 can also result in a “strike” for the purposes of California’s “Three-Strike” law. Three strikes on defendant’s criminal record mean that he can be sentenced to life in prison without parole.