Given how many people confuse the crime of assault with that of battery, it’s no real surprise that many people also are confused about what it means to perform assault with a deadly weapon. But the crime isn’t too difficult to understand when you understand what assault is as well as the definition of a deadly weapon under the law in California.
The Definition of Assault in California
First off, it’s important to remember that assault does not mean performing a violent act -that is what battery is. Instead, assault is simply attempting to harm someone with violence, which means that assault with a deadly weapon occurs when someone threatens or tries to harm another person with a deadly weapon.
What are Deadly Weapons Under CA Law?
The California Penal Code section 245(a)(1) (PC) defines a deadly weapon as any weapon or object that is either inherently deadly or used in a way that makes it capable of producing force likely to produce great bodily injury or death. While obvious examples include a knife, brass knuckles, or a tazer, it could also include a vehicle, boots, a screwdriver, or even a toaster oven if it was used in a dangerous manner. Whenever a person attempts to hurt someone in a way likely to produce great bodily harm, they can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Even siccing a dog on someone can be considered assault with a deadly weapon.
Penalties for Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Assault with a deadly weapon is considered a form of aggravated assault in California. Other forms of aggravated assault covered by Penal Code section 245 (PC) may be filed if the victim is a peace officer or an intimate partner. These charges are very serious and can result in either misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the specific circumstances involved. If the charge is filed as a felony, you could face as many as four years in state prison depending on the severity of the crime. When charged as a misdemeanor, the sentence includes up to one year in county jail.
When it comes to sentencing, the law does distinguish between assaults where a deadly weapon is used and assaults that occur a weapon but where great bodily injury is likely. The distinction is particularly important to recognize as assault with use of a deadly weapon is a strike under California’s three strikes law, but assault without a weapon is not. Moreover, assault with a firearm will carry additional penalties requiring multiple years in state prison.
Defenses to Assault With a Deadly Weapon Charges
These types of violent crimes require a top criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can help you determine whether your best course of action will be to attempt to fight the criminal charges, often this is done by claiming you were acting in self defense. or if you should negotiate a plea bargain that will reduce the criminal charges down to simple assault, which has a sentence of no more than six months in county jail.
If you have been accused of assault with a deadly weapon or any similar crimes such as assault, battery, making criminal threats or other accusations related to criminal weapons possession, please contact criminal defense lawyer Peter M. Liss to discuss your case. You can schedule a free consultation to discuss the right defense for your situation and to get more information on the charges you are facing by calling (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024.