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Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon can lead to the worse possible outcome if you do not retain the right criminal defense attorney. Are you facing either misdemeanor or felony counts for California Penal Code 245(a)(1): assault with a deadly weapon and are located in the greater San Diego area, Los Angeles, or Orange County? If that is the case, then finding a San Diego criminal defense lawyer is imperative when trying to keep control of your rights and your freedom. 

To begin, how does California law define assault with a deadly weapon? Under California Penal Code 245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon also referred to as AWD, is when an assault is committed towards another person with either a deadly weapon, or other instrument that is not a fireman, or with force that is likely to result in great bodily injury.

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Some examples of AWD, PC 245(a)(1) are as follows:

  • Hitting another vehicle while road rage driving in an attempt to hurt the other person, or chasing after them with your vehicle while they are on foot, biking, or skating. 
  • Swinging a bat or large musical instrument at someone.
  • Chasing after someone with a hatchet, chainsaw, axe, or another hardware tool.
  • Attempting to stab someone with a long, sharp object, like a hunting knife, fire poker, or broken glass beer bottle. 

Here are some specific examples in which California assault with a deadly weapon, PC 245(a)(1) may be filed:

  • When a couple is having a very heated fight and in a passionate rage the girlfriend attempts to stab her boyfriend with a kitchen knife. 
  • Or when the boyfriend attacks his girlfriend during a verbal fight and punches her in the face or tackles her through a door. 
  • Although, in this case, California assault charges and parallel battery charges could be filed as well, under California Penal Codes 240 and 242. 
  • Two men get into a fight at a bar.  One of the men takes a beer bottle, breaks it, and uses the broken bottle as a weapon to beat the other man up. 

It is also very important to note the differences between California assault with a deadly weapon and California battery. California PC 245(a)(1), AWD and PC 245(a)(2), AWD with a firearm, can still be filed even if you did not actually cause injury towards another person by your behavior. In order for California battery charges to be filed against you, you would have had to actually cause harm and injury to the other person. 

An associated crime that carries different and harsher consequences is California Penal Code 245(a)(2), assault with a firearm as aforementioned. For this sort of crime, the penalties are significantly more grave and serious. Here are some examples:

  • Pointing a loaded gun at someone to shoot them, even if you do not shoot them, the action is still considered assault with a deadly weapon, to wit: a firearm. 
  • Instead of pointing a gun at someone you use it as a blunt object and attack someone with it, hitting them in the head. 

If California AWD charges are filed against you, it is the prosecutors' job to prove that you committed assault on another person both willfully and with intent. More specifically, the prosecutors have to prove whether misdemeanor or felony charges can be filed if:

  • The victim was actually harmed and the severity of their suffering/injury.
  • The type of weapon or instrument that was allegedly used to commit the crime.
  • Who the victim was can be very important, because harsher charges might be filed if the victim was a member of law enforcement or other protective agency. The penalties can vary as well depending on whether the victim was on or off duty. 

When facing charges for AWD, the best possible choice you can make is to find the right San Diego criminal defense lawyer. This is because under PC 245(a)(1), AWD, and PC 245(a)(2), AWD with a firearm, charges can be filed even though you technically did not cause actual injury to anyone by your violent or erratic behavior. So facing these types of charges are very serious, especially when considering the penalties that result from getting convicted.

In California, PC 245(a)(1) assault with a deadly weapon is also called a “wobbler” which means that this crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Each case can be dependent upon the specific circumstances of the situation and your actual criminal background history. The following is a list of possible penalties for California assault with a deadly weapon, PC 245(a)(1).

Misdemeanor Counts for AWD:

  • facing “summary probation” for up to 5 years
  • face up to 1-year maximum in a county jail
  • pay a maximum fine of up to one thousand($1,000) dollars
  • or you could face both jail time and a fine

For misdemeanor penalties under PC 245(a)(2), AWD with a firearm:

  • A misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon depends on the type of firearm used.  If it is a regular firearm, then you might face misdemeanor charges.  However, if you used a machine gun, semiautomatic firearm, or assault weapon, then you will face felony charges.
  • you could face “summary probation” for up to 5 years max
  • face a jail sentence with a minimum of 6 months or for a maximum of 1 year
  • a fine of one thousand($1,000) dollars
  • or you could face both jail time and the fine

Felony Penalties for PC 245(a)(1), AWD, depends upon what the type of weapon or instrument was used, or if you used force resulting in great bodily injury. These penalties are as follows:

  • Felony (formal) probation with a maximum sentence of 2 to 4 years in a California State Penitentiary
  • a fine of ten thousand($10,000) maximum
  • a “strike” on your permanent criminal record under the California “Three Strikes” Law if you personally used a weapon or inflicted great bodily injury upon another.

Penalties for PC 245(a)(2), AWD with a firearm:
Depending on the specific type of firearm, whether it was a semi-automatic, rifle, machine gun or other type of firearm:

  • you could face a maximum sentence of 4, 8, or 12 years in a state prison (machine guns or assault weapons)
  • or a maximum sentence of 3, 6, or 9 years in a state prison (semiautomatic firearm)
  • a ten thousand($10,000) maximum fine; and
  • Get a “strike” on your criminal record under California’s “Three Strikes” Law

If it is proven that you knew or had knowledge that the victim was a part of the category of protected persons, the consequences are severe. The penalties for committing AWD, with or without a deadly weapon, against someone that is part of the protective services, like, a peace officer or a firefighter are:

  • a maximum sentence of 5 years 
  • if a firearm was used in the assault, you could face increased sentences of 4 to 12 years in prison

Finding the right San Diego criminal defense attorney is the smartest move to make when facing any of the aforementioned charges for assault with a deadly weapon. They can help you find out what exact charges are being brought and how to go about defending yourself with every avenue of opportunity possible. A skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer can look into whether there were any potential police missteps, legal loop holes, or to help clearly define the differences between a misdemeanor and felony under the law in order to prevent the harsher convictions of California’s “Three Strikes” law. 

If you are facing charges for assault with a deadly weapon and need a San Diego criminal defense attorney, then consider the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum. Based out of San Diego, Attorney Yum can also take cases from Orange County and Los Angeles. As a highly recommended and trusted criminal defense lawyer and one of the top 40 under 40 attorneys by the National Trial Lawyers, you can be sure that every possible avenue will be taken to gain you the best possible results. As a winner of the 2015 Avvo Clients’ Choice award for criminal defense, the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum provide a legal defense that will surely exceed your expectations. 

For any questions or concerns about a great San Diego criminal defense lawyer, you can contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum at (619) 233-4433 or click here for a free no obligation legal consultation.

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