Imagine being accused of having the intent to harm a person and the only supportive evidence for your arrest is the person’s statement of what they believed you did. Every story has two sides, and in most cases, law enforcers are concerned with the side that puts you behind bars. Your side of the story matters and before any witness testifies against you, it is imperative to have the court listen to what you have to say. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you with your case is critical. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney will put you in the best position to work your way through the criminal justice system.
California has a low tolerance for crimes involving assault with a deadly. A conviction can have adverse effects on your life. However, just because you’ve been arrested for this crime does not mean that you should assume guilty. If you have been arrested for this crime, the next move you make can mean the difference between freedom and prison. This simply implies that you have the power to choose between living under the watchful eyes of the prison system and law enforcement and living on your own terms. It can also mean the difference between being an independent individual who can earn a living and a person who cannot even secure a job. The police and prosecutors are not on your side, but the great thing is, the attorneys at Pasadena Law Firm are on your side. Call us today at 626-689-2277 for a free, initial consultation.
What Does Assault with A Deadly Weapon Entail?
Assault with a deadly weapon, often referred to as an “ADW,” is one of the more serious types of assault crimes in California and is charged under California Penal Code section 245(a)(1). In this type of crime, one can be charged if they used a deadly weapon, an instrument other than a firearm or force likely to cause great bodily injury. This crime does not require any physical contact with the alleged victim. Instead, the factor that’s looked into involves the intent to commit a harmful or offensive touch with a deadly weapon. The sentencing and punishment for a charge of assault with a deadly weapon can be severe.
If you’ve been arrested for or charged with assaulting someone else with a deadly weapon, never assume that a police officer will investigate your case thoroughly. Law enforcement, often times collect documents evidence only indicating your guilt while leaving out pertinent evidence in your favor. The Law Offices of Pasadena Criminal Attorney has access to defense investigators that will conduct a comprehensive investigation to check whether the case against you is valid. A defense investigation may include questioning or searching for witnesses, running criminal background checks on the accuser and all the prosecutor’s case, obtaining video surveillance footage, obtaining text messages and all information between you and the accuser, photographing the scene, and photographing your injuries. The investigators will carry out a full defense investigation to counteract the serious allegations against you.
Elements of Assault with a Deadly Weapon
The elements of Penal Code 245(a)(1) are key facts that the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt for you to be found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon. These elements will be outlined in the jury instructions, and they include:
- You acted in a circumstance that would result in the application of force upon another person
As with simple assault, application of force is any offensive or harmful touch done rudely or aggressively. The prosecution will charge you with ADW even if the touching did not involve any did not or could not cause injury. It can either be direct or indirect for example by causing an object to touch the alleged accuser. In this case, however, there is no requirement for you to have applied force to the other person. The prosecutor only needs to prove that you took some action that would have resulted in the use of force. For instance, if you threw a screwdriver at someone but missed hitting him/her, that is enough for you to be charged with assault with a deadly weapon because you knew or should have reasonably known that your action would have resulted in great bodily injury upon the target.
- You performed an act with a deadly weapon that would probably result in the application of force against another person
In California assault with a deadly weapon law, a “deadly weapon” can be defined as any object, instrument, or weapon that by its nature is likely to result in death or great bodily injury depending on the manner in which it is used. Obvious examples of deadly weapons include guns and knives. However, other items that are not viewed as weapons can be used to cause substantial harm or death. Some examples include an unloaded gun, bottle, screwdriver, baseball bat, brass knuckle, ring, baton, car, roll of quarters, pencil, and a dog that will attack humans on command. Under Penal Code 245(a)(1), these objects can be deemed a deadly weapon if used in a way that’s likely going to result in application of deadly force likely to cause great bodily injury. To determine whether the used object is deadly factors that must be considered include the nature of the weapon, the manner in which it’s used, the location of the injuries, and the extent of the injuries. It is important to note that hands and feet are not considered to be deadly weapons but can be deemed as so if they are used in a manner likely to produce harm.
- Great bodily injury
There’s no clear definition of great bodily injury, leaving different types of interpretation by judges and prosecutors. In general, however, it can be referred as physical injury that’s significant or substantial. This kind of injury is greater than a minor harm. For instance, assault with bare hands can be considered an ADW if the great bodily injury is significant or substantial. An example of this would be a professional boxer who punches somebody with his bare hands. The boxer may be accused of assault with a deadly weapon because he is more skillful than an ordinary person, and he may have used his hands in a manner that’s likely to cause substantial harm upon the person of the target.
- You committed the act willfully
Acting willfully under Penal Code section 245(a)(1) means doing something willingly or on purpose. However, this does not mean that you had the intention hurting someone, breaking the law, or taking advantage of another. There is also no intent to cause injury. In this case, therefore, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you intended to commit the very act likely to produce substantial harm. For instance, you can pursue someone with your car in a manner that may make witnesses believe that you are trying to hit that person. That very act of pursuing someone with your car is likely to result in great bodily injury to that person, even if you had no intent to hit that person.
Penalties for Assault with a Deadly Weapon
The ADW offense is a wobbler, and this means that it is upon the prosecutor to charge you with either a misdemeanor or felony. The decision will depend on factors such as the type of weapon used, the extent of any injury, the defendant’s criminal history, whether there was any physical contact or injury, and any other factual situations.
If convicted of a misdemeanor offense, an individual could face:
- Up to 1 year in the county jail
- A fine amount not exceeding $10,000
- Victim restitution costs, where applicable
- Anger management classes or programs
- Community service
- Confiscation of weapon
- Misdemeanor probation for three years
Penalties for a felony offense can include:
- A state prison sentence of 2, 3, or 4 years
- A fine amount of up to $10,000
- A “strike” on your record under California’s Three Strikes Law
- Felony probation
- Weapon confiscation
- Victim restitution costs
Other consequences include suspension of your state issued license, adverse migration consequences, and temporary loss of your search and seizure right.
The consequences are even harsher if the alleged victim was a peace officer and the defendant knew that. In this case, therefore, assault with a deadly weapon is always a felony offense. The sentence is 3, 4, or 5 years in a state prison if there was no firearm involved. If the assault involved a firearm, the sentence will depend on the type of firearm used:
- Ordinary firearm- 4, 6, or 8 years
- Semiautomatic firearm- 5, 7, or 9 years
- Assault weapon, machinegun, or .50BMG rifle- 6, 9, or 12 years
What Are the Defenses to Assault with a Deadly Weapon?
California law imposes harsh penalties for behavior that may not even result in harm to anyone. Facing such charges is never easy. This is why it is always important to contact a seasoned defense lawyer at Pasadena Criminal Attorney. To contest the charges of assault with a deadly weapon, there are several defenses that your lawyer can raise on your behalf, and these include:
- There was no use of deadly weapon or force likely to produce great bodily injury
You are not guilty of assault with a deadly weapon if you did use a deadly weapon or force likely to hurt anyone. Determining what constitutes a deadly weapon is a matter of interpretation. For instance, a loaded gun is an obvious deadly weapon, but an unloaded one isn’t. Also, determining what force is likely to produce great bodily injury can be trickier than you think. These are gray areas that your defense attorney can exploit to fight PC 245 (a)(1) charges.
- You acted in self-defense or defense of another
Your defense attorney can argue that you were acting in self-defense or defense of another. This, however, is only applicable if you reasonably believed that there was an imminent danger of being touched unlawfully or suffering bodily injury. It should also be that you believed that you had to use force to defend against the danger immediately. Also, you used force that was only necessary to defend against that danger. For example, if another person was physically threatening you, and you defended yourself using a weapon, you may be able to fight against assault with deadly weapon charges by using the self-defense strategy.
- You did not act willfully or with intent
There are different reasons that would have caused the actions leading to ADW charges. It may have been that your actions were accidental or they may have been misunderstood by the alleged victim. Under this type of defense, it is imperative for you and your criminal defense attorney to give the entire facts to the prosecutor and the jury.
- You were falsely accused
Assault with a deadly weapon charge may be brought even when no assault occurred. It is possible and easy for one to falsely accuse another of committing ADW out of anger, revenge, or jealousy. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have seen similar situations before, and we know how to examine the background and motives of the alleged victim. Our attorneys will gather the relevant evidence and interview witnesses to make your story known and fight the charges.
If you’ve been arrested, charged, or under investigation for ADW, law enforcement will reach out to you in a bid to get information. The best thing you can do is to contact an attorney immediately and make sure you do not give a statement. When you speak with police, you may end up giving incriminating information that may be used against you. Keep in mind that you limit your options to defeat the charges against you when you give a statement to the police.
How Pasadena Criminal Attorney Can Help You
A conviction for assault with a deadly weapon can affect your employment, reputation, and educational opportunities. With this in mind, the last thing you need is a conviction on your record. You can increase your fighting chances by contacting the most aggressive, experienced, winning assault defense attorneys from Pasadena Criminal Attorney. Our main goal is to achieve the best results for our clients. If you’ve been arrested for this crime, our lawyers can work to stop police investigations before you’re charged with the crime. Remember that time is of the essence if you’ve been charged with ADW. Every minute matters, and if you’re in this situation, call Pasadena Criminal Attorney immediately for a free, confidential consultation at 626-689-2277. We are available 24/7 to help you or your loved ones.