Assault charges are very serious. Assault is defined as an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury upon another, when you have the ability to do so. Assault charges can vary based on the circumstances and facts of the case. Assault with a deadly weapon is a more serious assault charge as it involves the use of a deadly weapon, whereas assault alone does not have to involve a weapon at all. Assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler crime in California. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The consequences for assault with a deadly weapon will vary based on what the weapon was, who the victim was and how severe the assault was. Under California Penal Code 245, it is illegal to assault another person with a deadly weapon. This offense is punishable by up to a year in a county jail or two, three or four years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
The weapon you use may also affect the punishment. Anything that can be used to kill someone could potentially be found as a deadly weapon in a court of law. However, if your assault is committed with a firearm, you could face a different charge altogether; one that is much more serious. Assaulting someone with a firearm results in a minimum sentence of six months, but up to a year, in a county jail or two, three or four years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Even the kind of firearm you use can greatly affect your sentencing. Assault with a semi-automatic firearm is punishable by three, six or nine years in a state prison. For assault with machine guns, assault rifles and other assault weapons, you could face four, eight or 12 years in a state prison.
Additionally, if the person you assaulted was a protected citizen, you can face a potentially much harsher punishment. Protected people can include police officers, firefighters and other peace officers. If you assault one of these protected citizens, your punishments for assault with a deadly weapon or assault with a firearm increase substantially. Assaulting one of these protected citizens will result in a felony charge and a substantial prison sentence. If you assault one of these protected citizens with a firearm, you could face four, six or eight years in a state prison. If this firearm was a semi-automatic, the sentence bracket increases to five, seven or nine years in a state prison. If the firearm was a machine gun, assault gun or assault rifle, the sentence increases to six, nine or twelve years in a state prison. However, to face these aggravated sentences, it must be found that you knew or should have reasonably known who the victim was and what their role was and, they must have been engaged in their professional duties at the time you assaulted them.
As you can see, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with a firearm are serious charges with potentially substantial prison sentences. It is always important to note that acting reasonably in self-defense will not result in an assault with a deadly weapon charge. Similarly, if you did not knowingly and willingly attempt to commit a violent injury upon someone, you may have a strong defense in court. If you accidently harmed someone with what could be construed as a deadly weapon, you will not face an assault with a deadly weapon charge because you lacked intent to commit a crime. Furthermore, if the "weapon" could not have been construed as deadly in any way, you will not be charged with assault with a deadly weapon however you may still be charged with assault. Depending on the circumstances, you may have a defense available to you if you did not intentionally and willfully use a deadly weapon with the intent to inflict bodily injury upon another person. If you are facing assault with a deadly weapon or with a firearm charges, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
Are you facing a charge of assault with a deadly weapon or assault with a firearm? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can ensure you take the right steps towards having a strong defense against your assault charges. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.