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Can I Be Charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Santa Ana if I Did Not Use A Firearm?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Apr 04, 2016 | 0 Comments

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.)

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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