Penal Code 17500 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to possess a deadly weapon with the intent to assault another person. The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and fines of up to $1000.00.
The language of the code section reads:
17500. Every person having upon the person any deadly weapon, with intent to assault another, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
- After a heated argument, Jill grabs a baseball bat and states that she wants to hit her boyfriend.
- Following some pushing at a bar, Tom takes a beer bottle and throws it at Aaron.
- After realizing his neighbor scratched his new car, Jean grabs a knife from inside his home and vows payback.
Whether or not an object is a deadly weapon is based upon the facts of a given case.
Some examples may include:
- Bottles; and/or,
Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of this offense. These include showing that an accused party did not:
- know they had a deadly weapon;
- intend to assault another person; and/or,
- actually possess a deadly weapon.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will discuss the following in this article:
- 1. What is possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault?
- 2. Are there defenses to Penal Code 17500 PC?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Related Offenses
1. What is possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault?
California Penal Code 17500 states:
Every person having upon the person any deadly weapon, with intent to assault another, is guilty of a misdemeanor.1
A prosecutor has to prove three elements to prove the case in court. These are:
- The accused carried a deadly weapon, or had one on their person (for example, in a pocket or bag);
- The accused knew they had a deadly weapon; and,
- The accused had the intention of assaulting another person with a deadly weapon.2
Under California law, an assault is the attempt to commit a violent injury on someone else.3
With regards to “deadly weapons,” the law does not provide a concrete definition as to what these may include. California courts, rather, have stated that the determination as to whether an object is a deadly weapon is based upon the facts of a case.
Obvious deadly weapons include:
- Knives; and,
- Brass knuckles (see Penal Code 21810 PC)
Possible deadly weapons, depending on the facts of a case, may include:
- Baseball bats;
- Bottles – either intact or broken; and,
- Large rocks or stones,
2. Are there defenses to Penal Code 17500 PC?
A person accused under Penal Code 17500 can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge
- reduced or
- even dismissed.
Please note, however, that it is critical for an accused to hire an attorney for the best defense.
Three common defenses are that the accused had:
- No knowledge;
- No intent to assault; and/or,
- No deadly weapon.
2.1. No Knowledge
Recall that there can be no conviction unless the accused knew they had a deadly weapon. Thus, it is an acceptable defense for an accused to prove that they did not have this requisite knowledge. For example, it may be the case that someone hid a certain object in the defendant’s coat or bag.
2.2. No Intent to Assault
A person can only be charged with possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault if the person truly intended to assault another. Therefore, it is a valid defense for a defendant to show that they did not have this specific intent. For example, an accused might have held a knife in their hand, but they are not guilty if they were merely showing it to another person.
2.3. No Deadly Weapon
Whether or not an object is a deadly weapon is based upon the facts of a given case. Consider, for example, a water balloon. Even if a suspect wanted to throw it at a person to hurt him, there is little chance that it would kill the person.
3. What are the penalties?
Penal Code 17500 is charged as a misdemeanor.4 The crime is punishable by:
- Imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months; and/or,
- A fine of up to $1,000.5
Please note that, in lieu of a jail term, a judge may impose misdemeanor probation. This is sometimes referred to as
- “summary” or
- “informal” probation.
4. Related Offenses
There are three crimes related to possessing a deadly weapon with the intent to assault. These are:
- Carrying a concealed weapon – PC 25400;
- Criminal Threats – PC 422; and,
- Brandishing a Weapon – PC 417.
4.1. Carrying a Concealed Weapon – PC 25400
Penal Code 25400 PC, California’s carrying a concealed weapon law, makes it a crime for a person to carry a concealed firearm on their person or in their vehicle.6
This law applies to both loaded and unloaded firearms.
Further, a person must know that they are concealing a gun to be guilty under PC 25400.7
Absent aggravating circumstances, carrying a concealed firearm is a misdemeanor. If convicted of this misdemeanor, a person may be punished with:
- Up to one year in county jail; and/or,
- A maximum fine of $1,000.8
A PC 25400 violation can be charged as a felony if certain aggravating circumstances are present in a case (for example, the defendant has a prior conviction of a California firearm offense).
4.2. Criminal Threats – PC 422
Under California Penal Code 422 PC, criminal threats is the crime of putting someone in fear.
A “criminal threat” is when a person threatens to kill or physically harm someone, and all of the following are true:
- The threatened person is put in a state of reasonably sustained fear for their safety or for the safety of their immediate family,
- The threat is specific, and
- The accused communicates the threat verbally, in writing, or via an electronically transmitted device.9
Criminal threats can be charged whether or not the accused had the ability to carry out the threat…and even if they didn’t actually intend to execute the threat.10
If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by up to one year in county jail. If charged as a felony, the crime is punishable by up to four years in the California state prison.11
4.3. Brandishing a Weapon – PC 417
Penal Code 417 PC prohibits the brandishing of a weapon. Brandishing occurs when a person
- Exhibits, or
a firearm or deadly weapon.12
Brandishing a weapon is a wobbler offense. This means it can be charged as either a California misdemeanor or a felony.
The specific penalty a person receives under PC 417 depends on the facts of the case. Penalties may include:
- Imprisonment in a state or county jail; and/or,
For additional help…
If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime per Penal Code 17500, we invite you to contact us for a consultation. We can be reached 24/7.
- California Penal Code 17500 PC. See also: In re J.G. (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 2010), 188 Cal. App. 4th 1501; People v. Rivera (Cal. App. 6th Dist. 2003), 107 Cal. App. 4th 1374; People v. Myers (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 328; People v. Rocha (1971) 3 Cal.3d 893; People v. Wolfe (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 177.
- CALCRIM 875. See also People v. Rubalcava (2000) 23 Cal.4th 322; People v. Gaitan (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 540; People v. Ricardi (1992) 9 Cal.App.4th 1427; People v. Saille (1991) 54 Cal.3d 1103; People v. Stevenson (1978) 79 Cal.App.3d 976; People v. Stutelberg (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 314; People v. Aguilar (1997) 16 Cal.4th 1023; People v. Godwin (1996) 50 Cal.App.4th 1562; People v. Brown (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 1; People v. Perez (2018) 4 Cal.5th 1055; People v. Aledamat (2019) 8 Cal.5th 1; People v. McCoy (1944) 25 Cal.2d 177.
- California Penal Code 240 PC. See also People v. Williams (2001) 26 Cal.4th 779; People v. Medellin (2020) 45 Cal.App.5th 519; People v. Quinonez (2020) 46 Cal.App.5th 457.
- California Penal Code 17500 PC.
- California Penal Code 19 PC.
- California Penal Code 25400 PC.
- See same.
- California Penal Code 25400(c)(7).
- California Penal Code 422 PC.
- See same.
- See same.
- California Penal Code 417 PC.
- See same.