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California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1) - Assault with a Deadly Weapon

An "assault with a deadly weapon" occurs when an assailant uses an object or weapon that is capable of inflicting grave bodily injury or death, by virtue of its design or construction. Assault with a deadly weapon is typically classified as a felony in California because such a crime usually involves a lethal weapon such as a knife or firearm, or, an object that can serve as a deadly weapon such as a baseball bat or even a vehicle. Even parts of the human body such as one's arms or feet can be considered "deadly weapons" under the law, depending on the manner in which they are used to execute the attack.

At the Kann California Defense Group our Los Angeles and Ventura County criminal defense attorneys work diligently to protect our clients' rights and ensure that their voices are heard. Every defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Every defendant has Constitutional rights that cannot be denied. If you have been arrested on suspicion of assaulting someone, please contact our law offices to find out how we can help you.

What is Assault with a Deadly Weapon?

Under California Penal Code Section 240, a "simple assault" is an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury on another person. California Penal Code Section 245 (a) (1) defines assault with a deadly weapon as an assault that is committed with any type of object that can prove lethal, or by means of force that is likely to cause great bodily injury to another. An assault with a deadly weapon charge could be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Prosecutors will most likely base their decision on factors such as the type of weapon or object used to commit the alleged assault; the nature and severity of the victim's injuries; and if the victim is a peace officer such as a police officer or firefighter.

Defining Deadly Weapons

California law allows for just about any object or instrument to be classified as a deadly weapon. Beer bottles, knives, guns, bats, power tools, cars and even pencils can be considered deadly weapons when used with the intent of causing bodily injury. An individual could face an assault with a deadly weapon charge for threatening someone with his or her dog, a cigarette lighter, a rock or even steel-toed boots.

Also, "great bodily injury" under California law, must be a significant or substantial injury. A minor or even moderate injury doesn't qualify as great bodily injury. It is common for overzealous prosecutors to allege great bodily injury even in cases were the injuries were obviously minor or insignificant. Some examples of great bodily injury include brain damage, paralysis, multiple broken bones or cuts that require stitches.

Burden of Proof

In order to obtain a conviction on an assault with a deadly weapon case, the prosecution must prove two important elements of the crime. First, they must have evidence to show that the defendant assaulted someone. Secondly, they must show that the defendant committed the assault with a deadly weapon or by other means of force that is likely to cause great bodily injury.

The prosecution does not have to prove that the defendant actually injured another person or that the defendant even made physical contact with the other person. All that the prosecution needs to prove is that the defendant had the intent and the ability to cause great bodily injury to the other person.

The Penalties of a Conviction

A misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon conviction could result in up to one year in county jail, up to five years of probation, a fine of up to $10,000, victim restitution, community service and mandatory anger management classes or counseling. If a firearm was used during the alleged assault, the jail sentence will increase by a minimum of six months.

If convicted of felony assault with a deadly weapon in Santa Clarita, a defendant could face between two to four years in a California state prison, a fine of up to $10,000, victim restitution and a strike toward the California Three Strikes Law. If the weapon used in the alleged attack was an assault weapon, the prison sentence may increase by up to 12 years.

Potential Defenses

There are a number of potential defenses for assault with a deadly weapon charges in Santa Clarita. For example, a person who was unable to carry out the threat of an assault cannot be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. For example, if an individual threatened to shoot someone with a toy gun, he or she cannot be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Self-defense or the defense of others is also a valid defense in such cases. Another common intent is lack of intent. For example, if you injured someone accidentally, that is not assault with a deadly weapon.

Call us

The experienced Ventura, Pasadena, Santa Clarita, Encino, and Los Angeles based criminal defense attorneys at the Kann California Defense Group will also look into whether law enforcement officials followed proper arrest and investigation procedures. We will thoroughly and independently investigate your case to help craft a solid defense strategy and help you achieve the best possible result in your case. If you have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, please contact us at (888) 744-7730 for a no-cost case evaluation.

 Related Charges:

False Imprisonment, California Penal Code Sections 236 and 237(a)