A deadly weapon can be virtually any object capable of producing great bodily injury, other than a firearm. Whether an instrument qualifies as a deadly weapon depends on (1) the object’s nature or (2) how the object was used. However, a deadly weapon must be extrinsic from the body. Therefore, your hands or feet cannot qualify as a deadly weapon.
Some common examples of a deadly weapon include:
- Brass Knuckles
- Attack Dog
What are the Elements of Assault with a Deadly Weapon?
The prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant willfully committed an act with a deadly weapon that would probably result in the application of force to another;
- The defendant was aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that their act would probably result in the application of force;
- The defendant had the present ability to apply force to another; and
The defendant was not acting in self-defense.
Asserting a Defense to PC 245(a)(1) Charges
To succeed on a claim of self-defense, you must prove:
- You reasonably believed you were in imminent danger of suffering great bodily harm or being unlawfully touched;
- You reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary;
- Your use of force was reasonable to defend against the danger.
Mistaken identification is not uncommon. You are permitted to introduce evidence in the form of expert testimony about mistaken identification. The factors associated with a witness wrongfully identifying someone are cross-racial identification, poor lighting, and even stress over witnessing an event.
An act committed on accident cannot be criminal. Accordingly, negligence, carelessness, or the act occurring by misfortune are via defenses.
The police may have obtained evidence against you by a constitutional violation. Indeed, suppose the police unlawfully searched your person, vehicle, or home and discovered evidence. In that case, you may file a motion to suppress. If the orders the suppression of the evidence, the prosecution will unlikely proceed with the case.
What is the Punishment for Assault with a Deadly Weapon?
A felony violation for PC 245(a) is punishable as follows:
- 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison
- A fine up to $10,000
A misdemeanor violation is carries:
- 1 year in the county jail
- A fine up to $1,000.
Other collateral consequences include:
- Adverse effects to someone holding a professional license
- Immigration consequences to non-U.S. citizens
- California law requires a 10-year firearm ban upon a conviction
- Indefinite driver’s license suspension if the deadly weapon was an automobile
Examples of Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- Dan grabbed his ex-girlfriend in a bear hug and pushed her towards the edge of a train platform into the yellow danger zone as the train was approaching.
- Cutting someone’s brake lines to their automobile will amount to using the alleged victim’s car as a deadly weapon.
- Making slashing motions with a butter knife across the victim’s blanket-covered legs will not amount to the use of a deadly weapon because it’s not likely that the act will produce great bodily injury.
Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you face penal code 245(a)(1) charges, you must protect yourself with an experienced Orange County criminal lawyer. Contact us to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your defenses and options.
John Rogers is a board-certified criminal law specialist. This rare distinction has only been achieved by a small group of California criminal defense attorneys. He has an unmatched understanding of California’s violent crime laws. He stands ready to intervene at any stage of your case.
 Penal Code 245(a)(1) defined – (“Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.”)
 See People v. Aguilar (1997) 16 Cal.4th 1023.
 See CALCRIM No. 875.
 See CALCRIM 3470.
 See CALCRIM No. 3404.
 See People v. Marsh (2019) 37 Cal.App.5th 474.
 See In re B.M. (2018) 6 Cal.5th 528, 531.