The answer is yes. Under California Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC, assault with a deadly weapon does not have to involve a firearm.
The jury instructions for PC 245(a)(1) assault with a deadly weapon (also known as “ADW” in California) make it clear that a deadly weapon doesn’t have to be a gun–or even something we usually think of as a “weapon.” It can be any object that is being used in a manner that makes it likely to cause great bodily injury.
This means that you can commit California assault with a deadly weapon with items like:
- A bottle;
- A pencil (used to stab someone);
- A dog that will attack on command;
- A screwdriver; or
- A car.
That said, the penalties for PC 245(a)(1) charges are harsher if you are accused of committing ADW with a firearm.
For starters, if you are charged with PC 245(a)(1) assault with a deadly weapon involving a firearm, you will face a minimum jail sentence of six (6) months–which isn’t true for ordinary ADW.
And if you are charged with ADW involving a semiautomatic firearm, a machine gun, an assault weapon or a .50 BMG rifle, then the offense will always be charged as a felony (even though ordinary ADW can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony). (See our article Five Things to Know About Assault in California.)