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Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charges in California
- Penal Code §245(a)(1) -

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Assault with a Deadly Weapon – PC 245(a)(1)

In California, assault with a deadly weapon is a serious criminal offense defined under Penal Code Section 245(a)(1). This charge encompasses a wide range of situations where an individual intentionally uses a deadly weapon or an object capable of causing great bodily harm to threaten or harm another person. 

Assault with a deadly weapon can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on factors such as the severity of injuries, the defendant's criminal history, and the circumstances of the incident. Convictions for this offense can result in significant penalties, including imprisonment, fines, probation, and a potential strike on one's record under California's Three Strikes Law.

 

Due to its gravity, it is essential to consult with a legal professional when facing a charge for assault with a deadly weapon. The following information is intended to provide a general understanding of the crime of assault with a deadly weapon in California. To discuss the particular facts of your case with an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer, contact JPLaw, P.C. and schedule your free consultation today!

1.  What are the elements of PC 245(a)(1)?

California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1) defines the crime of assault with a deadly weapon or other deadly instrument other than a firearm. To secure a conviction under this statute, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant did an act with a deadly weapon other than a firearm that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person.
     

  2. The defendant did that act willfully. Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that the defendant intend to break the law or hurt the other person.
     

  3. When the defendant acted, he or she was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that the act by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to the victim.
     

  4. When the defendant acted, he or she had the present ability to apply force with a deadly weapon other than a firearm.

The terms application of force and apply force mean to touch in a harmful or offensive manner. The slightest touching can be enough if done in a rude or angry way. Making contact with another person, including through his or her clothing, is enough. Moreover, the touching does not have to cause pain or injury of any kind.

 

A deadly weapon other than a firearm is any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury.

2.  What are the penalties for assault with a deadly weapon?

As indicated above, assault with a deadly weapon under PC 245(a)(1) is a “wobbler” offense, which means it can either be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

 

If charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty for a conviction of PC 245(a)(1) is 1-year imprisonment in county jail and a fine of $10,000. If charged as a felony, the maximum penalty for a conviction of PC 245(a)(1) is either 2-, 3-, or 4-years imprisonment in the state prison and a fine of $10,000.

Alternatively, a judge may place the defendant on probation for a violation of PC 245(a)(1). Probation is a form of clemency, though. A judge is not required to grant a defendant probation.

 

Probation allows the defendant to remain in the community under conditional supervision. Probation can be either formal or informal. A probationer on formal probation is supervised by the probation department. A probationer placed on informal probation is supervised by the Court.

 

A defendant granted probation is expected to comply with all the terms of his or her probation. Failure to comply with the terms of probation can lead to revocation of the defendant’s probation.

Inmate Handcuffed

A judge can also order that the defendant be imprisoned in jail as a condition of the defendant's probation. 

In addition to the penalties listed above, a felony conviction for assault with a deadly weapon under PC 245(a)(1) is considered a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law. California's Three Strikes Law is a sentencing enhancement statute that significantly increases the penalties for individuals convicted of multiple serious or violent felonies.

3.  Will a conviction of PC245(a)(1) affect the defendant's gun rights??

A conviction for assault with a deadly weapon MAY affect your right to own or possess a firearm in the state of California. The state’s law prohibits any person convicted of a felony from owning or possessing a firearm. Therefore, the effect of a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon on a person’s right to own a firearm is entirely dependent on the severity of the charge.

 

If the defendant was convicted of felony assault with a deadly weapon, then he or she will be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm in California.  If the defendant was only convicted of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, then his or her gun rights will be unaffected.

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Neither will an expungement restore a person's gun rights in California.  

4.  Is a person convicted of PC 245(a)(1) eligible for an expungement? 

Yes, a person found guilty or who pleads guilty to assault with a deadly weapon may be eligible for an expungement.  In California, an expungement is the process of petitioning the court to permit the defendant to withdraw their plea of guilty and have the case dismissed.

An expungement is a great way to clean up a past criminal record.  Expunging a conviction from your record allows you to legally say that you have never been convicted of a crime. This is particularly beneficial when applying for housing or employment. 

 

That said, not everyone is eligible to have their conviction expunged. For more information on the expungement process in California, please visit the dedicated Expungements page.

5.  Does a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon affect immigration status? 

Yes, a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon under PC 245(a)(1) will have serious negative immigration consequences. Pursuant to current immigration laws, a conviction of assault with a deadly weapon is a crime involving moral turpitude.

 

Additionally, if the defendant is sentenced to anything more than 364 days imprisonment, then the conviction is also considered an aggravated felony as a crime of violence.

 

Therefore, if the defendant is not a citizen of the United States, a conviction of assault with a deadly weapon will result in the defendant’s deportation, exclusion from the United States, and denial of naturalization pursuant to the laws of the United States. 

 

 To avoid these consequences, the defendant should avoid pleading guilty to PC 245(a)(1).  A good criminal defense lawyer will keep this in mind when negotiating the case with the prosecutor.

6.  What are some common defenses to PC 245(a)(1)? 

Defending against charges for violating California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1) is very complex and highly dependent on the facts and circumstances of the case. Here are some common defenses that may be used:

  • Self-Defense: If you can demonstrate that you acted in self-defense or defense of others, you may have a valid defense. You must show that you reasonably believed you were in imminent danger of suffering great bodily harm or that someone else was, and your use of force was necessary to protect yourself or others.
     

  • False Accusation: If you can show that you were falsely accused of the assault, perhaps due to a personal vendetta or bias, it may serve as a defense. Witness testimony and evidence of motive can be crucial when relying on this kind of defense. 
     

  • Mistaken Identity: If there is reasonable doubt about your identity as the perpetrator of the assault, you can use a mistaken identity defense. This could involve providing an alibi or demonstrating that there were other individuals who could have committed the assault.

It's essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assess the specific details of your case and develop a defense strategy tailored to your circumstances. Legal representation is crucial to protect your rights and build a strong defense against charges under Penal Code Section 245(a)(1).

Contact An Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer 

John-Patrick Mullen-Lujan is a trusted Orange County criminal defense lawyer that prides himself on his ability to communicate with clients as he helps them navigate our complex criminal justice system.

 

Attorney Mullen-Lujan was named one of the Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Orange and Newport Beach. Hire an attorney you can trust and who can provide the zealous advocacy you need.

 

Contact JPLaw, P.C. to schedule your FREE consultation with local Orange County criminal defense lawyer John-Patrick Mullen-Lujan. Together you will review your case and develop a legal defense strategy tailored just for you!

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JPLaw, P.C.

Orange County Law Office

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410 N Clark St.
Orange, CA 92868

Phone: (949) 991-7057

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