Assault is a very broad criminal charge in California. To be guilty of assault, one needs to make an unlawful attempt to violently injure another person and they have to have the present ability to do so. An attempt at inflicting a violent injury can include anything from a fistfight, throwing an object at someone with the intent to harm them, hitting them with a bat, cutting them with a knife, or shoving someone down some stairs. Assault is a broad criminal charge in part because there are many ways in which you can harm another person. Because there are so many ways in which you can commit assault, the punishments for an assault charge vary based on how you assaulted the person, who that person was, with what device, if any, you made the attempt, where the assault took place, and your criminal record. Assault with a deadly weapon is one of the many different types of assault charges. As its name would suggest, assault with a deadly weapon must involve a weapon that has the potential to kill someone. Many objects, not always weapons in the classic sense of the word, can be considered deadly weapons for assault charge purposes. One such deadly weapon you can assault a person with is your vehicle. Not only can vehicles kill people, and often do, they can do so very easily and with little effort on the part of the perpetrator. Assault with a deadly weapon, whether a vehicle or a gun, is a serious charge. Vehicles have a great potential to harm and can easily kill someone. Even if the act was not entirely intentional, you can face assault charges if you were driving recklessly, while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, driving with a suspended license, or when you are otherwise driving with gross negligence or a wanton disregard for the safety of others.
A simple assault, not involving a deadly weapon, will result in a misdemeanor criminal charge, a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in a county jail. These punishments will increase as the severity of the assault goes up. Assault with a deadly weapon will come with more severe punishments. Assault with a vehicle falls under the category of assault with a deadly weapon, other than a firearm. The punishments for this charge vary. You can face up to one year in jail or two, three, or four years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. You may also have to pay punitive damages to the victim. Punitive damages vary quite a bit, as they are calculated by a jury, but could be substantial if the injury you caused was great. Assault with a deadly weapon when the weapon is a vehicle will also result in the immediate revocation of your California driving privileges, by the DMV.
It is important to point out that in addition to facing a charge of vehicular assault, you may also face additional driving crime charges, such as reckless driving or driving under the influence, if those elements were present. If, as a result of your reckless or otherwise unlawful driving, you kill someone, you may be charged with vehicular manslaughter, a much more serious charge, especially if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. On the other hand, it is also possible to harm someone with your vehicle and not be charged with assault. Accidents happen, and often both drivers are hurt. If you accidently injure someone in an auto accident, whether the injury is minor or severe, you cannot be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, unless you were driving recklessly, were under the influence, or otherwise were driving with disregard for others' safety. There are many facts that must be considered when facing assault with a deadly weapon charges for assault with a vehicle. If you did not intend to commit the assault, it must be proven you were acting recklessly in some way. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to assess your case and advise you on what you can be charged with and how you can approach your defense.
If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and are facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon where the weapon was a vehicle? The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. With over ten years of both general criminal and driving crime defense experience, attorney Christopher Martens knows the ins and outs of criminal law and can help you fight your charges. Attorney Martens will not be afraid to take your case to trial to defend your rights. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.