Penal Code 245.5 PC – Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a School Employee

Penal Code 245.5 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to assault a school employee with any of the following:

  • a deadly weapon,
  • a firearm, or
  • a stun gun or taser.

According to this statute:

“Every person who commits an assault with a deadly weapon or instrument…upon the person of a school employee, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a school employee engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when that school employee is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or five years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year.

Every person who commits an assault with a firearm upon the person of a school employee, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a school employee engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the school employee is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for four, six, or eight years, or in a county jail for not less than six months and not exceeding one year.

Every person who commits an assault upon the person of a school employee with a stun gun or taser, and who knows or reasonably should know that the person is a school employee engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the school employee is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a term not exceeding one year or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.

Examples of illegal acts under this code section include:

  • Raphael is enraged at his son's principal and swings a bat at him during school hours.
  • Nia waits in the school parking lot around lunch time, and when she sees her daughter's teacher getting into his car, she gets out and fires a gun at the auto's door.
  • Maurice walks into his son's school while in session and fires a stun gun at a school board member, but it misses.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise. These include showing that the:

  • alleged victim was not a school employee,
  • defendant acted under duress, and/or
  • defendant was arrested without probable cause.

Penalties

A violation of PC 245.5 is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Penalties for the crime can lead to imprisonment in a county jail or the state prison for up to eight years, depending on the facts of the case.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

Person holding gun ss

1. What is prohibited under California Penal Code 245.5 PC?

Penal Code 245.5 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to assault a “school employee” with any of the following:

  • a deadly weapon,
  • a firearm, or
  • a stun gun or taser.1

California law defines an “assault” as an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury on someone else, coupled with the present ability to do so.

Note that for an accused to be guilty under this statute, a prosecutor must prove that during the assault:

  1. the defendant knew, or should have known, that the alleged victim was a school employee engaged in his duties, and
  2. the employee was engaged in the performance of his duties.2

A “school employee” means any person employed as a permanent or probationary certificated or classified employee of a school district – on either a part-time or full-time basis.3

2. Are there legal defenses?

If a person is accused of a crime under this statute, then he can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed.

Three common defenses to PC 245.5 accusations are:

  1. no school employee,
  2. duress, and/or
  3. no probable cause.

2.1. No school employee

The language within California Penal Code 245.5 states that an accused is only guilty if he assaults a school employee. Therefore, it is always a perfect legal defense for a defendant to show that, while he may have assaulted someone, that person was not a school employee.

2.2. Duress

Duress is a legal defense in which an accused basically says: “He made me do it.” The defense applies to the very limited situation in which a person commits a crime (here, assaulting a school employee), because somebody threatened to kill him if the crime was not committed.

2.3. No probable cause

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that police must have probable cause before they can detain or arrest a suspect of a crime.

If a person was stopped or arrested for violating PC 245.5, and there was no probable cause, then any evidence obtained following the improper stop/arrest could get excluded from the case. This exclusion could result in the dismissal or reduction in charges.

prisoner being led by guard

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

A violation of PC 245.5 is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

The specific penalty imposed will depend on what type of object the accused used to commit the assault.

If the defendant used a deadly weapon, other than a firearm, then the offense is punishable by either:

  • imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or five years, or
  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year.4

If the accused used a firearm, then the offense is punishable by either:

  • imprisonment in the state prison for four, six, or eight years, or
  • imprisonment in the county jail for between six months and one year.5

If the defendant used a stun gun or taser, then the offense is punishable by either:

  • imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or
  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year.6

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to assaulting a school employee with a deadly weapon. These are:

  1. assault with a deadly weapon – PC 245a1,
  2. assault with a firearm – PC 245a2, and
  3. furnishing with a firearm during the commission of a felony – PC 12022.4.

4.1. Assault with a deadly weapon – PC 245a1

Penal Code 245a1 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to assault another party with a deadly weapon.7

A violation of PC 245a1 is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

The maximum jail sentence for assault with a deadly weapon as a misdemeanor is one year in county jail.8

The basic felony sentence is two, three, or four years in state prison.9

4.2. Assault with a firearm – PC 245a2

Penal Code 245a2 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to assault another party with a firearm.10

A violation of PC 245a2 is a “wobbler” under California law, meaning that it may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by six months to one year in county jail.

If charged as a felony, the offense carries a California state prison sentence of two, three, or four years.11

4.3. Furnishing with a firearm during the commission of a felony – PC 12022.4

Penal Code 12022.4 PC makes it a crime to furnish, or attempt to furnish, a firearm to someone else for use in a felony.12

Punishment under this enhancement is an additional term of one, two, or three years in prison.13

Were you accused of assaulting a school employee with a deadly weapon in California? Call us for help…

california gun rights attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Penal Code 245.5 PC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 245.5 PC. This code section states: “

    (a) Every person who commits an assault with a deadly weapon or instrument, other than a firearm, or by any means likely to produce great bodily injury upon the person of a school employee, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a school employee engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when that school employee is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or five years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year.

    (b) Every person who commits an assault with a firearm upon the person of a school employee, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a school employee engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the school employee is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for four, six, or eight years, or in a county jail for not less than six months and not exceeding one year.

    (c) Every person who commits an assault upon the person of a school employee with a stun gun or taser, and who knows or reasonably should know that the person is a school employee engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the school employee is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a term not exceeding one year or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.

    This subdivision shall not be construed to preclude or in any way limit the applicability of Section 245 in any criminal prosecution.

    (d) As used in the section, “school employee” means any person employed as a permanent or probationary certificated or classified employee of a school district on a part-time or full-time basis, including a substitute teacher. “School employee,” as used in this section, also includes a student teacher, or a school board member. “School,” as used in this section, has the same meaning as that term is defined in Section 626.”

  2. See same.

  3. California Penal Code 245.5d PC.

  4. California Penal Code 245.5a PC.

  5. California Penal Code 245.5b PC.

  6. California Penal Code 245.5c PC.

  7. California Penal Code 245a1 PC.

  8. See same.

  9. See same.

  10. California Penal Code 245a2 PC.

  11. See same.

  12. California Penal Code 12022.4 PC.

  13. See same.

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