Assault with a deadly weapon is a form of aggravated assault and is a serious criminal offense that is aggressively prosecuted and punished harshly under California law, even in cases where the alleged victim doesn’t suffer any pain or injury. Unfortunately, this means that even individuals who don’t actually inflict any physical harm or violence on the alleged victim can end up facing assault with a deadly weapon charges, punishable by substantial fines and a year or more in jail. If you have been arrested, charged or are currently under investigation for assault with a deadly weapon in Los Angeles, contact our knowledgeable lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles as soon as possible. By obtaining qualified legal representation, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and significantly improve your chances of obtaining a positive outcome in your case.
Affordable Assault with a Deadly Weapon Attorney in Los Angeles
If you have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon in Los Angeles, you need a criminal defense attorney on your side who has a proven track record in defending criminal assault cases in California. You can’t expect anyone else to do you any favors when it comes to advocating for you in court, nor can you rely on the officers tasked with investigating your case to do a thorough job of scrutinizing every detail on your behalf. For instance, police may take statements from witnesses who are lying or mistaken, which can result in an incorrect identification and false charges being brought against you. They may misplace or mishandle evidence, misunderstand the law, or fail to collect surveillance footage, any of which can result in the improper conclusion being reached.
Our attorneys, on the other hand, are committed to fighting for your rights and will conduct a thorough investigation of your case, running criminal background checks on both your accuser and the prosecutor’s witnesses, questioning eye witnesses, obtaining video surveillance footage, interviewing experts and creating a record of all communication between you and your accuser. Our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles has years of experience protecting the rights of clients accused of assault with a deadly weapon in California, and will work tirelessly to have your charges reduced, either to a misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon offense or to simple assault (California Penal Code § 240 PC) or brandishing a weapon (California Penal Code § 417 PC), or possibly have the charges dismissed altogether.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
The state of California defines an “assault” as an unlawful attempt to inflict injury upon another person, and therefore, assault with a deadly weapon is a criminal offense involving the intent to inflict harmful or offensive contact on another person, either with a so-called “deadly weapon,” or by means of force likely to produce serious bodily injury. Although the crime of assault with a deadly weapon conjures up images of brutal attacks and severe injuries or death, this crime does not actually require any physical contact with another person, only that the defendant harbored the intent to commit a harmful or offensive act against the other person while using a deadly weapon.
Under California law, a “deadly weapon” includes any tool, instrument or object capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death, such as a firearm, baseball bat, knife, screwdriver, bottle, brass knuckles or hammer. For example, if during an altercation with her boyfriend, a woman attempts to stab him with a screwdriver, the woman may be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The same is true for a man who instructs his ferocious German shepherd to attack his neighbor. Technically, assault with a firearm is a separate offense, covered under Penal Code § 245(a)(2) PC, and an example of this crime may include a driver firing his gun at the driver of another car, who cut him off in traffic, even if the bullet doesn’t actually strike the other driver.
Conviction for Assault with a Deadly Weapon Penal Code § 245(a)(1)
Assault with a deadly weapon is an extremely serious offense, and you can be convicted of this crime even if no one was actually injured by your behavior. In order to convict you of assault with a deadly weapon under California Penal Code § 245(a)(1) PC, the prosecutor in your case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the following:
- You committed an assault on another person;
- You acted willfully or with intent to cause that person harm;
- You did so while in possession of either a firearm or a deadly weapon, or with force likely to produce great bodily injury;
- When you acted, you were aware that your actions would directly and probably result in the application of force to that person;
- You had the present ability to use force likely to produce serious bodily injury or death against the other person; and
- You were not acting in self-defense.
If you have been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in California, you may be eligible to have your record expunged under Penal Code § 1203.4, which means the court will withdraw its finding of guilt, enter a plea of not guilty, and dismiss the criminal case.
Penalties for an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Conviction
Due to increasing rates of violent crimes in California, assault with a deadly weapon and other such offenses carry harsh penalties, and pressure to solve these crimes as soon as possible sometimes results in innocent people being wrongfully convicted. Under California Penal Code § 245(a)(1) PC, assault with a deadly weapon is a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of the case, including the type of weapon used and whether or not the alleged victim sustained an injury. A misdemeanor conviction of assault with a deadly weapon that is not a firearm carries a penalty of up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, and a felony conviction carries a penalty of up to four years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If the assault with a deadly weapon involves a semiautomatic firearm, the crime is always charged as a felony and is punishable by three, six or nine years in jail.
If you are convicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, you will likely be placed on probation and be required to perform community service, pay restitution to the victim, and attend anger management counseling. Other potential legal consequences of an assault with a deadly weapon conviction include a 10-year firearm restriction, suspension of your state-issued license, immigration consequences, and a temporary loss of your search and seizure right. A felony conviction for assault with a deadly weapon also falls under California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law, which imposes harsher penalties for repeat offenders convicted of multiple violent felonies. Under the “Three Strikes” statute, felons with two previous convictions who are convicted of another serious violent felony may automatically be sentenced to life in prison.
Defenses to Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charges
California law imposes harsh criminal penalties for behavior that may not have even caused anyone any harm, and the consequences of an assault with a deadly weapon conviction are wide-reaching and long-lasting. To beat assault with a deadly weapon charges in Los Angeles, it helps to have an experienced California criminal defense attorney on your side who can help you develop a strong defense in your case. Some possible legal defenses in an assault with a deadly weapon case include the following:
- You are being falsely accused by the alleged victim
- You were mistakenly identified by the alleged victim
- The tool or instrument you used was not capable of causing serious bodily harm or death
- You were acting in self-defense or in defense of another person
- Your actions were accidental, not intentional
Hiring a Qualified Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
An assault with a deadly weapon conviction can have a significant adverse impact on your personal freedoms for the rest of your life, possibly preventing you from voting, owning a firearm, obtaining certain employment, or having custody of your children. If you are convicted on felony assault with a deadly weapon charges, you will carry the stigma of being a convicted felon for the rest of your life, or at least until you can have your record expunged. Remember that it is your constitutional right to obtain qualified legal counsel and defend yourself against these charges in court. Even if you have been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon in California, that doesn’t mean you are automatically guilty of the crime. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can explain your rights to you as they pertain to your case and help you build a strong defense that will hold up in court. Contact our knowledgeable lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to discuss the best strategy for your assault with a deadly weapon defense.