Assault with a Deadly Weapon Dismissed the Morning of Trial

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingJul 23, 2020

Charges Reduced to Negligent Discharge of a Weapon. Years ago, I had a case that I tried in the San Fernando courthouse.  My client woke up and was hallucinating, probably because he had taken drugs — a combination of drugs — and he believed that there was somebody in his house and that they were going to get him, so he grabbed his shotgun and started firing throughout his home.  Reloaded and fired multiple shots.

The problem was that his house was attached to other townhouses, and so, obviously, that was a hazardous situation.  The bullets could have penetrated the wall and injured his neighbors. So, he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but the reality was that he didn't have the mind for it. 

In other words, he didn't even realize what he was doing.  He truly was hallucinating, and it didn't make sense why somebody would do something like that unless they were hallucinating. California Penal Code 245(a)(1) defines the crime of assault with a deadly weapon. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will explain further below.

Ultimately, the prosecutors were giving us problems with dismissing the case, so we were set to go to trial.  On the morning of practice, they finally capitulated.  We got the judge involved.  He got a negligent discharge of a weapon which was huge.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charges in California

Because I believe this case was before the three strikes law, it would have been a strike if you had to plead to an assault with a deadly weapon or if he was convicted of that charge.

However, because we were able to get him the negligent discharge, he doesn't have a strike on his record; he's in a much better position and didn't get any jail time.  We were able to get him some help for his obvious substance abuse problem, and fortunately, the case was resolved fairly.

But sometimes, you have to face the prosecutors down.  You have to be willing to go to trial if that's the right move.  That's one of the things I think I'm good at related to criminal defense in Los Angeles County, and that is helping my clients decide whether to fight a case or resolve it.

Seeking Fair Resolution to Criminal Charges

If we resolve it, what's a fair resolution and convince the prosecutors of that because the prosecutors in Los Angeles County are a massive bureaucracy with over 1,000 prosecutors solid and multiple levels of leadership.

So, you have to know how to maneuver yourself in general through the Los Angeles county judicial system. Still, you also have to realize which courthouse you're in, how that courthouse works, who the power we are, who's reasonable, and who's not reasonable.

So, fortunately, we were able to set things up the right way — face the prosecutors down in this assault with a deadly weapon case, avoid the client getting jail or prison time, and a strike on his record for the rest of his life. Hedding Law Firm is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles and provides a free case review by phone or fill out our contact form.