The criminal charge for assault with a deadly weapon is a severe violent offense because it shows disregard for human health and life. Finding yourself in police custody for a serious criminal charge like an assault with a deadly weapon can be scary and confusing because you don’t know how the case might end.
Whether you have experience in the criminal justice system or not, you should contact a skilled defense attorney to represent your interests and fight for your legal rights throughout the prosecution process. Experienced defense attorneys at Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm understand how prosecutors and judges treat these kinds of crimes.
We will persistently defend your legal rights by utilizing every valuable resource available to prepare the best viable legal defense tactics to fight for a lesser severe charge or acquittal of the alleged charges against you.
Understanding Assault with a Deadly Weapon Offense
Also commonly known as aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon involves an attack or attempt to attack another person using a dangerous or deadly weapon that is likely to cause severe physical/bodily injury or death.
According to Penal Code PC 245 PC (a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon (ADW) is chargeable as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on your unique case situation and facts. For the sake of this specific statute, a deadly or dangerous weapon is an instrument/object that is inherently deadly or capable of causing a severe bodily injury or death when you use it in a particular manner.
Under PC 245 PC (a)(1), a dangerous weapon is not only a gun or knife, as many people assume. The following instruments or tools can qualify as a dangerous or deadly weapon under PC 245 PC (a)(1):
- Unloaded firearms
- Writing instruments
- A bottle
- A BB gun
- A vehicle
- A brick
On the other hand, a “great bodily injury” is any substantial physical injury that does not qualify as a minor injury, for example:
- Broken bones
- Gunshot wounds
- Dog bites
- Black eyes
Typically, you will rely on your defense attorney through every stage of the prosecution process because laws surrounding ADW charges are complex and confusing. Your defense attorney will be your right-hand man until your case is over to fight for your best interest and protect your legal rights.
What to Remember After an Arrest for Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge
Dealing with the police after an arrest for any criminal offense can be tricky because anything you disclose to the officers can act as incriminating evidence against you in court. Typically, the criminal justice system will start with an arrest when the police restrict your movement. At that point, proving your innocence should be your main priority to secure your freedom as soon as possible.
Here is what to remember following an arrest for an alleged violation of PC 245 PC (a)(1) to stay on the safe side of the law as your case continues:
Don’t assume that you can negotiate with the officers and talk your way out of the alleged criminal charge or prove your innocence. Apart from giving out your legal names, you don’t have to disclose any other information to the arresting officers, even if they cannot stop asking their tricky questions.
Remember, you have a legal right against self-incrimination any time you are in trouble with the law. That means you can legally remain silent or stop talking to the arresting police officers anytime you want, and they will do nothing about it.
Stay Away From Social Media
Like talking to the arresting officers, posting on social media about your alleged ADW charge is not a wise idea. Remember, anything you decide to post on social media about your alleged ADW charge is visible to the public and may have incriminating facts that law enforcement officers can use against you.
Retain the Services of a Defense Attorney
An encounter with the law can be confusing and stressful, but you can give yourself an easy time as the case continues by retaining the services of a defense attorney. Call an experienced and skilled defense attorney who will be available for your case.
Remember to disclose every crucial information relating to the alleged ADW charge to him/her to prepare appropriate legal defense tactics ahead of time.
Securing Your Deserved Freedom Following an Arrest for an Alleged Violation of PC 245 PC (a)(1)
When police arrest you for an alleged violation of PC 245 PC (a)(1) or any other criminal law, they will keep you in custody until your case first hearing, known as the arraignment. If you have a criminal defense attorney ready to represent you, your presence is unnecessary at the arraignment hearing unless the court requires you to be there.
Generally, at the arraignment, the court will read the alleged ADW charges against you, and you will have a chance to take a plea. You can either choose to admit that the allegations against you are true (guilty) or choose to fight them in a trial (not guilty). At the arraignment hearing, the court will also determine your eligibility to secure freedom before your case’s trial because you not guilty yet.
The court can choose to give you the freedom you deserve through Own Recognizance (O.R)or by posting bail. Unlike posting bail, where you have to use cash or property to act as security for your release, O.R release requires you to only give a promise in writing that you will avail yourself in court during the alleged ADW case hearing. However, the court will consider the following:
- Your community ties
- Your time of residence in the community
- Your criminal history
- Your likelihood of showing up in court
It is upon your defense attorney to raise convincing mitigating factors to convince the court that you deserve O.R release as your alleged ADW case continues. If that is impossible, you must be ready to post the required total bail amount for the alleged ADW charge. The bail amount for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1) is $30,000 as long as the weapon in question is not a firearm.
If your ADW offense involves a firearm, you will pay a higher bail amount of $50,000. If posting bail is the only way to secure your freedom after an arrest for an alleged ADW charge, you must pay the total required bail amount for your release. Since being under arrest is an unplanned event, paying the required cash bail for your release can be challenging or impossible.
However, luckily, a bail bond company or agency can help you secure a bail bond at a certain fee. A bail bond agency will agree to post the bail on your behalf in exchange for you paying a particular percentage of the total bail amount, usually 10%. One of the bail conditions is that you will avail yourself in court as required until your alleged ADW case is over.
When you avail yourself in all court hearings timely as required, the court will return the bail money. However, if you fail to show up, the court will forfeit your bail money and order a rearrest. If you have a criminal defense attorney in your corner, he/she will advise you on what to do and what not to do once you obtain your freedom to avoid a rearrest.
A rearrest also comes with a probability of staying in police custody without bail until your alleged ADW case’s final judgment or verdict.
What to Expect During Trial Phase for the Alleged Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge
During the trial phase in the criminal justice system, a jury or a judge will make the final verdict of your alleged ADW charge. In a jury trial, you should expect at least twelve members of the community ready to hear evidence against you and your legal defense to counter the charges.
Under PC 245 PC (a)(1), the prosecutor must demonstrate to the jury every aspect of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain or secure a conviction against you. Some of these aspects of the crime, also known as “elements of the crime” in ADW charge, include:
- You are responsible for committing or performing a dangerous act that is likely to cause a direct application of physical force to another person
- You did the act with a lethal weapon or physical force that is likely to cause significant/great bodily injury
- Your act was willful and intentional
- The other person “victim” was in fear of immediate severe bodily injury or death due to your dangerous acts or threats
- When you did the alleged dangerous act, you had the physical ability and capability to apply force using a lethal weapon
Remember, the prosecutor can secure a conviction against you even if the alleged victim didn’t suffer an injury due to your dangerous acts. The court will focus on whether your alleged dangerous acts could have led to the direct physical application of force to the other person or not.
Even the slightest application of physical force can count as a violation of PC 245 PC (a)(1). If the judgment of this case turns against you, you could be subject to very harsh penalties. Therefore, your defense attorney should be very attentive and keen during the trial to spot a weakness in the prosecutor’s case against you.
Applicable Legal Defenses for Countering Assault With a Deadly Weapon Charge
A reliable and skilled defense attorney can knowledgeably raise the following legal defense arguments to counter the alleged ADW charge against you to accomplish the best favorable outcome:
Self-defense laws allow you to use reasonable and honest force to protect yourself or another person if you believe they are at risk of severe imminent bodily injury or death.
A skilled defense attorney can convince the jury or the judge that you had to use reasonable and necessary force to protect yourself according to the situation and circumstances of the case, meaning you didn’t intend to cause injury.
Lack Of Intent
One of the main incriminating aspects of the ADW charge is that you intended to inflict injury or cause the death of another person. That means if your actions were accidental, you should not be guilty of violating PC 245 PC (a)(1).
Your defense attorney carries the burden of proof to convince the jury or the judge beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions were not willful for a dismissal of the alleged ADW charge or an alternative less severe charge.
It is not uncommon or unusual for people to be subject to the criminal justice system for crimes they didn’t commit. A person with jealous or revengeful thoughts can accuse you of a crime that you didn’t commit to satisfy his/her interests, and the law acknowledges that.
A credible defense attorney might be able to prove this defense argument using the following type of evidence:
- Eyewitnesses testimonies/statements
- Video surveillance videos
- Text messages and emails
No Deadly Weapon Involved
Another strategy an experienced defense attorney can use to seek a dismissal or an alternative less severe charge against you when facing ADW charges is arguing that the weapon in question was not harmful or deadly. For instance, throwing balloons at a person does not count as a deadly weapon under PC 245 PC (a)(1).
In that kind of situation, the prosecutor may find it reasonable to reduce your alleged ADW charge to a less severe charge like simple assault, which comes with less severe consequences in contrast to the original charge.
Potential Penalties Following a Conviction for Violating PC 245 PC (a)(1)
As mentioned earlier, depending on particular facts and circumstances inherent in your alleged case, the prosecutor can file it as either a misdemeanor or a felony. For instance, if the alleged victim had an actual injury like a broken finger, the prosecutor will file your case as a felony which attracts severe penalties. Here are possible penalties you could be subject to for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1):
A Misdemeanor Conviction
A conviction for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1) as a misdemeanor will attract the following possible consequences:
- A fine amounting up to $1,000
- An incarceration term of one year in the county jail
- Misdemeanor probation
A Felony Conviction
On the other hand, if you are guilty of violating PC 245 PC (a)(1) as a felony, you will be subject to the following potential consequences:
- A prison term of two, three, or four years in the state prison
- Formal probation
- A maximum fine of $10,000
Sentence Enhancements for Violating PC 245 PC (a)(1)
ADW is also punishable as a straight felony if the following aggravating factors exist in the context of your case:
The Weapon in Question Was a Firearm
Although using a pistol or a revolver to threaten someone is a wobbler, using particularly dangerous firearms like a machine gun, a semiautomatic firearm is a straight felony. A straight felony conviction for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1) will make you subject to a maximum of twelve years in the state prison.
The Alleged Victim of the Offense Was a Firefighter or Police Officer
If the alleged victim of the offense were a firefighter, peace officer, or police officer, your alleged ADW case would change to a straight felony. In this kind of situation, a conviction for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1) will attract a prison term of five years if the weapon in question was not a firearm.
If the deadly weapon in question was a firearm, you might face a longer prison term of twelve years, as mentioned above.
In addition to the above possible penalties for ADW conviction, the court might also order you to pay compensation to the victim, including any medical cost he/she had to incur in the incident’s aftermath.
Remember, if you are a non-citizen, a felony or straight felony conviction for ADW can also attract immigration consequences, meaning you could be subject to deportation. You should consider hiring a defense attorney to increase your chances of countering the alleged ADW charge for all these reasons.
If your criminal defense attorney cannot prove your innocence to the judge, maybe he/she might be able to convince him/her to reduce the alleged ADW charge to an alternative, less severe charge.
Other Offenses Related to Assault With Deadly Weapon (ADW)
If there is insufficient evidence to secure a conviction against you for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1), the prosecutor may decide to file the following related criminal offenses against you:
Brandishing a Weapon/Firearm
According to Penal Code 417 PC, it is unlawful to display or exhibit a weapon/firearm in the presence of another person in an angry, threatening, or rude way unless it was reasonable to do that to protect yourself or another person. For example, picking a knife in the kitchen and displaying it to your boyfriend or another person can count as a violation of PC 417.
Brandishing a weapon/firearm is chargeable and punishable as a misdemeanor under the law. A conviction for this offense will attract an incarceration term of one year and a fine not exceeding $1,000. Unlike the ADW charge, a conviction for violating PC 417 doesn’t need proof of an assault.
Typically, you commit a simple assault crime when you willfully and intentionally attempt to apply physical force or inflict a serious injury on another person. According to Penal Code 240 PC, this offense is chargeable and punishable as a misdemeanor. A conviction for violating PC 240 will make you subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 and six months in jail.
Most prosecutors will pursue these charges against a defendant if there is insufficient viable evidence to obtain a conviction against him/her for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1).
An experienced defense attorney knows this and will be ready with proper evidence to counter any possible related charge the prosecutor may file against you if it is impossible to secure a conviction against you for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1).
Expunging a Conviction Record for Assault With a Deadly Weapon
A conviction record for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1) can negatively affect many aspects of your life even after serving your sentence and paying all your dues. A conviction record for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1) or any other criminal law can make it challenging to secure a loan, employment, and even housing.
To avoid all these negative consequences of having a criminal record, you should consider seeking an expungement under Penal Code 1203.4 PC. According to PC 1203.4 PC, you will be eligible to obtain an expungement of your ADW conviction record if the following conditions are true:
- You didn’t violate any condition of your ADW offense’s probation
- You are not currently under arrest or charged with any crime
- You are not currently serving probation for any offense
If the court grants you an expungement of your criminal record, your defense attorney should focus on sealing your criminal record. Sealing your criminal record means your arrest record for ADW will no longer be visible to the public.
That means you can confidently and legally say that you have never had an arrest or conviction for any crime. Expunging and sealing your arrest and conviction record also gives you peace of mind knowing your criminal record is clean.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Apart from the hefty fines and lengthy prison terms, a conviction for violating PC 245 PC (a)(1) can affect your reputation and many other aspects of your life, as mentioned above. We invite you to contact credible and aggressive attorneys at Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm if you are in police custody for assault with a deadly weapon charge under PC 245 PC (a)(1).
Call us at 951-946-6366 for a free case evaluation as soon as you can for an outstanding legal representation from attorneys with significant experience in these types of criminal cases.
Once you contact us, our attorneys will immediately look into your alleged case to build a viable legal defense to counter the charge at every stage of the prosecution process to achieve the best results.