Assault with a Deadly Weapon
California Penal Code Section 245 – Assault with a Deadly Weapon
The crime of “assault with a deadly weapon,” commonly known as “ADW”, is defined under California Penal Code Section 245. In basic terms, ADW occurs when you assault another person with a deadly weapon or using force that is likely to produce a great bodily injury. It’s important to note a loaded firearm is not covered under Penal Code 245 because it’s a separate offense with harsher legal penalties. So, what is considered a “deadly weapon” according to this statute? It can be almost anything if it has the potential to be deadly. Under California law, a deadly weapon is any object or weapon inherently deadly or used in manner that is capable of causing or likely to cause great bodily injury or death. This could include a baseball bat, knife, brass knuckles, unloaded firearm used as a club, vehicle, bottle, blunt object, among other items.
A common example of an assault with a deadly weapon charge in Los Angeles County includes a situation where a two men become engaged in a heated argument in a bar. They take their fight out to the parking lot where one man retrieves a baseball bat from the trunk of his car and uses it as a weapon against the other man. It’s important to note that physical contact against another person using your hands or feet is not typically sufficient to support a PC 245 assault with a deadly weapon charge, but it’s possible if it was done with force likely to produce great bodily injury. Police with normally make an ADW arrest as a felony crime, but the Los Angeles County prosecutor makes the final decision whether to formally charge you with a misdemeanor or felony offense, making a Penal Code 245 assault with a deadly weapon “wobbler” offense.
If you have been accused of Penal Code 245 assault with a deadly weapon, contact the experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at the Goldstein Law Group to review the details of your case. Let’s take a closer examination at the legal definition, penalties, related offense, and defenses below.
Legal Definition of Assault with a Deadly Weapon
California Penal Code Section 245 defines assault with a deadly weapon as follows:
(a) (1) Anyone who commits an assault on another person with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm will be punished by imprisonment in state prison for two, three, or four years, or a county jail for up to one year, or a fine up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and fine.
This legal definition of PC 245 primarily focuses on what is known as the “elements of the crime.” These main factors that the Los Angeles County prosecutor has to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, to secure a conviction are covered under CALCRIM 875 and include the following:
- You committed an act against someone that would probably result in the application of force
- Your act was with a deadly weapon or an act that would likely to produce great bodily injury
- You act was done willfully and purposeful
- You reasonably knew your act would lead a reasonable person to believe your act would result in the application of force on another person
- You had the ability to apply force with a deadly weapon likely to produce great bodily injury
- You were not acting in self-defense or defense of another person
It should be noted you don’t have to actually cause injury to the other person or even touch them to be convicted on Penal Code 245 assault with a deadly weapon. This means if you use a deadly weapon to frighten or intimidate another person, you can still be convicted. This means the common claim of “I didn’t even touch them” is not a valid defense as physical contact is not required.
What is a Deadly Weapon?
As stated above, a deadly weapon is described as any object, instrument, or weapon that is used in a manner capable of producing, or likely to produce, great bodily injury or death. The most common examples of a deadly weapon include the following:
- Baseball Bat
- Vicious Dog
- Unloaded weapon
- Blunt Object
Great bodily injury is described as a substantial physical injury, meaning an injury greater than minor harm. Your act with a deadly weapon must be willful, but you don’t need to have actually intended to use force against the victim.
Legal Penalties for Penal Code 245 Assault with a Deadly Weapon
As stated, California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon is known as a “wobbler.” This simply means the Los Angeles County prosecutor can file the case as either a misdemeanor or a felony crime, depending on the circumstances of your case and criminal history. Typically, the prosecutor will make use certain factors in their decision on whether to file the ADW case as a misdemeanor or felony. These factors include the type of weapon used and extent of injuries on the victim.
If you are convicted of Penal Code 245 assault with a deadly weapon as a misdemeanor, the legal penalties include the following:
- Up to one year in County jail
- A fine up to $1,000
- Misdemeanor summary probation
A felony conviction of PC 245 245 assault with a deadly weapon carries the following penalties:
- 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison
- A fine up to $10,000
- Formal felony probation
In addition, the court could order you to pay restitution to the victim to include any medical expenses incurred from the assault. Assault with a deadly weapon with use of a firearm or if your ADW was against law enforcement or a firefighter will carry more severe penalties. A felony conviction will count as strike under California’s three strike law.
Related Offenses to Penal Code 245 Assault with a Deadly Weapon
California Penal Code Section 240 – Assault
California Penal Code Section 242 – Battery
California Penal Code Section 417 – Brandishing a Weapon
California Penal Code Section 245(a)(2) – Assault with a Firearm
California Penal Code Section 399 – Failure to Control Dangerous Animal
California Vehicle Code Section 223110(b) – Throwing Dangerous Objects at Vehicles
Legal Defenses for Penal Code 245 Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers have a range of potential legal defenses against your charges of assault with a deadly weapon in violation California Penal Code Section 245. Of course, any defense would be based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. However, the most common defenses against ADW include the following:
Lack of Intent: One of the main elements of the crime for assault with a deadly weapon is that you acted willfully with intent to commit great bodily harm against the victim. Since ADW is a general intent crime, meaning the prosecutor doesn’t have to prove you had specific intent to cause force to another person, but only that you generally intended to commit the act itself. Perhaps, your act was accidental or misinterpreted by the victim. In other words, we might be able to argue you didn’t act “willfully.”
Self-Defense: The Los Angeles County prosecutor has to be able to show you weren’t acting in self-defense or the defense of another person. In some cases, our lawyers might be able to argue the only reason you used a deadly weapon was for your own protection. In order to use this defense, we would have to be able to show you had a reasonable belief you or another person was in imminent danger of suffering a bodily injury and you also had a reasonable belief the immediate use of force was necessary to defend yourself or another against the danger, and you didn’t use any more force than necessary. A common example includes a situation where you are being threatened by someone else in a heated argument and you felt you had to use a weapon for defense.
Weapon Used Not Deadly: In some cases, our criminal attorneys may be able to present an argument the instrument you used was not a deadly weapon. For example, if you look at the legal definition which states that a deadly weapon is “any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or dangerous or one that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury.” As you can see, the key words here are inherently dangerous. Perhaps we could make an argument the weapon you used should not be considered deadly.
False Allegation: It’s not that uncommon for someone to be falsely accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Perhaps the person filing the police report was motivated by anger, jealously, or revenge. It happens and our lawyers may be able to show you were an innocent person falsely accused of a crime. We might be able to prove a false accusation by collecting critical evidence, such as phone records, text messages, emails, and witness statements.
Contact our Criminal Defense Law Firm For Help
If you or a family member has been accused of assault with a deadly weapon that violated California Penal Code Section 245, you should contact the experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at our law firm to review the details of your case. We have a track record of success and will aggressively fight to obtain the best possible outcome. We serve clients throughout Los Angeles County from our Hollywood office located at 1645 Vine St #809 Los Angeles, CA 90028. Contact our law firm at 323-461-2000.
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