You can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon even if you did not use a firearm during the offense. As long as you had the opportunity to use force likely to produce great bodily injury, this charge can apply.
Great bodily injury refers to any significant or substantial harm. However, the damage does not need to be permanent. Determining whether an injury falls into this category is generally left to the discretion of the jury. Common injuries that qualify as great bodily injury include broken bones, chipped teeth, severe bruising or swelling, and cuts that require stitches.
What Is Considered a Deadly Weapon in California?
Any object that is capable of inflicting serious harm to another person can be considered a deadly weapon. When people hear the words “deadly weapon,” they often think about things like guns, knives, and explosives. However, nearly any item can qualify as a deadly weapon when used with the intent to cause serious physical harm.
A baseball bat, motorcycle helmet, or even a spoon could be classified as a deadly weapon in the right context. Basically, any object used in a potentially lethal manner can result in an assault with a deadly weapon charge.
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Penalties for a Conviction of an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge
The consequences for an assault with a deadly weapon charge can be quite severe. Under California Penal Code (PC) §245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler offense. A wobbler means that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties may include:
- Up to one year in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Summary probation
The penalties for a felony conviction increase sharply and can include:
- Up to four years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Formal probation
Defenses Against an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge
Several common defenses can be used against a charge under California PC §245(a)(1): Assault With a Deadly Weapon. Some of the most often used arguments include:
- Self-defense or defense of others
- Not a deadly weapon
- Not a willful act
- False allegation
Self-Defense or Defense of Others
Self-defense is one of the most commonly used defenses in a number of violent crime cases. California law gives people the right to protect themselves or others from a real or perceived threat of imminent harm. This right to protection includes the use of a deadly weapon if deemed an appropriate response to the threat.
The rules that regulate self-defense can be confusing. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side to help make this argument will significantly increase your chances of avoiding a conviction.
Not a Deadly Weapon
Whether a normal everyday object is or is not considered a deadly weapon is determined by the damage caused by the item. You might be able to argue that the item in question was not used with deadly intent. Therefore it should not be considered a deadly weapon in your case.
Not a Willful Act
In order to be found guilty under Penal Code (PC) §245(a)(1), you must have acted with the willful intent of causing harm. The law does not intend to punish people for accidents. If you acted negligently, you could be found guilty of reckless endangerment. However, you will not be guilty of assault with a deadly weapon.
Whether the damage was caused through negligent behavior or an unavoidable accident, you can argue that it was not a willful act.
There are two primary causes for false allegations. Sometimes a false accusation is made because one person wants to punish another and feels that accusing them of a crime will be the perfect way to do so.
Other times a false allegation occurs because the accuser makes a mistake. The accused may look like the perpetrator, or they may have been in the area at the time of the assault, and the accuser simply got confused.
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Get Legal Help If You’re Facing an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge in California
At the Simmrin Law Group, we can help you fight an assault with a deadly weapon charge. We may be able to beat a charge outright or get an aggravated assault charge reduced to simple assault.
If you face a charge for assault with a deadly weapon under Penal Code Section 245 PC, contact our team of criminal defense lawyers today. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations to potential clients. We can review your case and answer any questions you may have.