Under PC 245(a)(1), anyone who commits an assault upon another person with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm can be found guilty of “assault with a deadly weapon.” These crimes are commonly referred to as “ADW.”
Death or serious bodily injury is not necessary to be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Even if the victim suffered no physical injury, the attempt to commit a violent injury is enough to trigger an assault charge.
Generally speaking, there are many factors that determine whether an assault with a deadly weapon (ADW) case will be filed by the prosecution and whether it will be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor. Some of these factors include
The definition of deadly weapons is very broad in ADW cases. A deadly weapon can include items such as a knife, ax, sharp stick, baseball bat, shovel, rock, an attack dog, pencil, or bottle. Kicking someone may even be considered assault with a deadly weapon if it is likely to produce great bodily injury.
A conviction for assault with a deadly weapon can also have a negative impact on any non-citizens in the U.S. Assault with a deadly weapon is considered a crime involving moral turpitude. A conviction may make some non-citizens inadmissible or deportable.
Under California law, a conviction for PC 245(a)(1) can be a strike.
Under PC 245(d)(1), if the victim of an assault with a firearm is a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of their duties, a conviction can result in up to eight years in state prison.
Under PC 245(d)(2), if the victim of an assault with a semiautomatic firearm is a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of their duties, a conviction can result in up to nine years in state prison.
When there is a firearm involved, the penalties increase in the assault with a deadly weapon case. For example:
Under PC 245(a)(2), an assault with a firearm carries a maximum of 4 years in state prison as a felony and a fine of up to $10,000. As a misdemeanor, it carries a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in county jail, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Under PC 245(b), an assault on another person while using a semiautomatic firearm carries a maximum of nine years in state prison.
Under PC 245(a)(3), an assault on another person while using a machine gun or assault rifle carries a maximum penalty of up to 12 years in state prison.
There are many legal defenses to charges of assault with a deadly weapon. If you reasonably believed that you, or another person, were in imminent danger of being harmed by another person, you may be able to use force to defend yourself. Self-defense and defense of others may be a complete defense to an assault with a deadly weapon charge.
Prosecutors may try and get you to plead guilty in order to get a reduced sentence, even if you did not do anything wrong. Before you plead guilty to an assault with a deadly weapon (ADW) charge, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will fight for you and fight to keep you out of jail and keep criminal charges off your record.