Assault with a Deadly Weapon or Assault with a Firearm?

Posted by Neil Shouse | May 24, 2010 | 0 Comments

The answer to this question can be somewhat confusing under California law. Take for example, a situation where someone points a gun at someone else. While it would seem like this would be an obvious violation of California's “assault with a firearm” law, it isn't. And before we could say whether this qualifies as the California crime of assault with a deadly weapon (ADW) or an assault with a firearm, some other questions would have to be answered first.

Was the gun loaded? If not, these circumstances don't violate California's “assault with a firearm law” because there is no actual ability to shoot someone. But instead let's say that rather than pointing the unloaded gun at another person, the individual used the gun to “pistol whip” the victim. Under these circumstances, the offense could be either an assault with a firearm or an ADW.

And how the offense is classified is actually very important as well…especially if the firearm is a machine gun, assault weapon, or semiautomatic firearm. An assault with one of these firearms subjects an offender to three to twelve years in the state prison. An assault with a “generic” firearm subjects an offender to six months in a county jail to four years in prison. An ADW doesn't even carry a mandatory jail or prison sentence.

So while it may not seem like there's a significant difference between the phrases “assault with a deadly weapon” and “assault with a firearm”, they have very different legal definitions and very different penalties under California's gun laws. (On a related subject, see our articles "The consequences of staged accidents under California law" and "The connection between ADW, brandishing, and criminal threats in California.")

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Comments have been disabled.

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370