Assault With a Deadly Weapon PC 245(a)(1)

When you are accused of assault with a deadly weapon, you’re up against potentially severe penalties. That includes potential imprisonment, fines, and other repercussions that can impact your life for decades.

But you don’t have to sit back and accept that fate. It’s your right to fight any criminal charge, including assault with a deadly weapon.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight to overcome these charges and get your life back on track. Reach out to the team at Elite Criminal Defense if you have been accused of breaking California laws on assault with a deadly weapon.

What Is Assault With a Deadly Weapon?

Assault generally refers to the threat of bodily injury that a reasonable person would interpret as a threat. Assault with a deadly weapon, however, includes presenting a weapon that could cause great bodily harm to the person threatened.

For example, the victim may claim you threatened them with a baseball bat, which can be used as a deadly weapon and lead to you facing much harsher penalties. You may need guidance from a criminal defense lawyer to act on the specific charges you face.

California Penal Code Section PC 245(a)(1)

You may be charged with assault with a deadly weapon if you are accused of threatening another person with a deadly weapon. Penal Code 245 states that the presence and use of a deadly weapon can elevate your case from simple assault to a more serious offense.

What is a “deadly” weapon under California law? A deadly weapon in this context can include blunt weapons, knives, or even a motor vehicle.

But, according to California Penal Code Section PC 245(a)(1), firearms, from a pistol to a machine gun, are not included in this particular definition of “deadly weapon” because firearms are covered under related offenses.


What Is the Definition of Assault?

According to California law, the definition of assault is as follows:

“An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”

But what does that actually mean?

It means you’re accused of threatening to hurt someone. And you have the ability to actually do it.

Note that you don’t have to actually touch someone to be charged with assault in California. And your perceived ability to cause the alleged victim harm is based on what a reasonable person would think.

What Is the Definition of a Deadly Weapon?

In California, a deadly weapon includes virtually any item that could be used to cause bodily harm to another person. These objects typically must be inherently deadly or often used in a way that can cause significant bodily injury or even death.

Below are a few types of weapons that may be considered “deadly” in California:

  • A knife
  • An unloaded firearm used as a club
  • A motor vehicle
  • A broken bottle
  • Most any blunt object used as a club
  • A baseball bat

While loaded firearms are most certainly deadly, they are typically not included in discussions of deadly weapons as they relate to the criminal charge of assault with a deadly weapon. That’s because the use of firearms in the commission of an assault can trigger charges under different California statutes.

What Are the Penalties for Assault With a Deadly Weapon?

The penalties for assault with a deadly weapon in California can vary widely. That’s because this crime is a “wobbler” — or a charge that can be either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the unique details of your case.

Adding to that confusion, your potential penalties can be more severe if you’re charged with assaulting a police officer or firefighter with a deadly weapon. Meanwhile, you may be facing additional or completely separate penalties if you’re charged with separate but related offenses, such as battery.

An experienced defense attorney can help you understand all of the potential penalties you’re facing, but here are the basic penalties for assault with a deadly weapon in California:

  • Two, three, or four years of time in prison or one year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • A fine and incarceration

And if you’re convicted of assaulting a firefighter or police officer with a deadly weapon, you could be sent to state prison for three, four, or five years.

Note that the above penalties also include the seizure of the object allegedly used in the assault. And if a firearm is involved or the alleged victim is severely injured, the penalties are likely to be more severe.

That’s not to mention, of course, the non-criminal penalties of a criminal conviction, which can include damage to your reputation, strained family relationships, trouble getting a job, and even difficulty securing housing.

Defenses for Assault With a Deadly Weapon

When you are accused of assault with a deadly weapon, an attorney can help you determine your best defense strategy. Even if you are charged with a felony offense and the evidence feels stacked against you, there almost always is a defense option that can help you protect your future and potentially keep your criminal record clean.

One of the most common defense strategies for assault with a deadly weapon charges is self-defense. The other side may claim you threatened serious bodily injury, but you may have only done so because the so-called victim was trying to make dangerous physical contact with you or someone you were trying to protect.

You may also argue that you weren’t actually capable of hurting the alleged victim. For example, perhaps the type of weapon you used in the incident was not actually deadly. Or maybe you were restrained or otherwise physically incapable of causing bodily harm.

Lawyer and client negotiation in legal judgement consulting.

Charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon? Speak with a Trusted Defense Attorney

When facing assault with a deadly weapon charges, you may feel that your situation is hopeless — that there’s no way to fight the accusation against you.

But thanks to California’s legal system, truly hopeless situations are rare. You have a right to mount an aggressive defense, but you may not have the knowledge or experience necessary to pull it off. That’s where we come in; a criminal defense lawyer serving San Diego residents is just a phone call away.

If you have been accused of threatening physical injury to someone with a deadly weapon, the attorneys at Elite Criminal Defense are here to help. All you have to do is call 619-642-2310 or fill out our online contact form to learn more.

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Assault with a Deadly Weapon FAQ 


Assault with a deadly weapon can cover a wide variety of situations, meaning no one-size-fits-all answer fits every case. That is why it is so important to speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible when you are charged with assault with a deadly weapon in California.

One of the best first steps is a consultation with an attorney, but in the meantime, check out the general questions we often receive below.

Can assault with a deadly weapon charges be dropped?

With the proper defense, your assault with a deadly weapon charges can be dropped. However, convincing the prosecution to drop this serious criminal charge often takes skilled legal footwork.

With that said, it certainly is possible to get a charge of assault with a deadly weapon dropped in California; it has happened before and can happen again. A qualified defense lawyer can give you a better idea of whether it’s possible to have your charges dropped.

Is assault with a deadly weapon a felony?

In California, assault with a deadly weapon is a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor violation.

The specifics of your case will impact the severity of the charges. For example, the type of weapon, the specific victim, and the severity of any related injuries can all influence whether your specific charge is a felony or misdemeanor.

It’s also worth pointing out that misdemeanors can still carry serious legal repercussions. So, while you may be relieved to learn that you’re charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony, that’s not a good reason to sit back and accept the penalties. Fighting a misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon charge is often a worthwhile way to protect your future.

What is aggravated assault with a deadly weapon?

In criminal law, some factors involved in certain charges can upgrade the charge to “aggravated” status. This usually means the potential penalties are more severe.

In the case of assault with a deadly weapon in California, your case is already likely considered aggravated or bordering on it simply because of the presence of a deadly weapon. But an attorney can help you understand the specifics of your case, so reach out today.

Does the law consider other weapons as ‘deadly’?

Under California law, a deadly weapon includes anything inherently deadly, such as knives or anything that can be used to cause great bodily harm or death, such as a baseball bat. However, other weapons considered deadly are not included in this definition.

Specifically, firearms are a type of deadly weapon, but these weapons are included in a separate definition that can lead to a harsher type of charge. Because of this, if you are accused of using a firearm as a deadly weapon, you may face much more severe penalties.

Can body parts be deadly weapons?

In many states, body parts may be considered deadly weapons because they can do great bodily harm or cause death, even if no other deadly weapons are involved. However, California is not one of these states. While you may still face severe assault charges, cases involving assault with hands, feet, or other body parts are not typically considered assault with a deadly weapon.


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