What are the best practices for a California Penal Code 245(a)(1) assault with a deadly weapon case at the Criminal Courts Building (CCB) downtown Los Angeles court located at 210 West Temple, also known as the Clara Foltz Courthouse?
I've been handling assault with deadly weapon cases at the CCB courthouse downtown for 30 years, so I know what it takes to get a successful result.
First, we must evaluate whether they can prove that you've committed an assault with a deadly weapon (ADW) case. Did you use a weapon? Did you assault somebody with it or not? If you've got a defense, we can attack the case at the preliminary hearing or a trial and try to get you a not-guilty verdict.
If, on the other hand, the government and prosecutors in downtown LA have proof that you committed assault with a deadly weapon, we will take a different approach.
We're going to see what the weapon was – whether this amounts to an assault with a deadly weapon case or whether it amounts to something else – something not as severe as what the prosecutors are portraying.
Assault with a deadly weapon is a wobbler under Penal Code 245(a)(1), so it can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. So, suppose the prosecutors file it as a felony many times.
In that case, we can get them under the right circumstances with a mitigation package to either move the charge down to a misdemeanor or set up a resolution that allows you to earn a misdemeanor in your case.
Because assault with a deadly weapon is typically a strike per the California three strikes law, you'd have to serve 85% of any jail or prison time you'd get, and you would have that felony on your record forever. It never goes away for purposes of the three strikes law.
What Does the Law Say?
California Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC defines the crime of assault with a deadly weapon as assaulting or attempting to attack someone with the use of a deadly weapon.
This crime can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony and carries a maximum sentence of up to four years in jail. It's often called “ADW” or aggravated assault.
PC 245(a)(1) says, “anyone who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm will be punished by imprisonment for up to four years and a fine up to $10,000.”
Of note is that the victim of an ADW does not have to suffer an injury to get charged under this law.
The primary factor is whether the perpetrator's act could have resulted in the application of force, not whether force was applied.
Under this statute, a “deadly weapon” is any weapon or object that is capable of producing a great bodily injury or death and could include any of the following items:
- Brick or rock,
- Razor blade,
California law describes a great bodily injury as a significant physical injury, such as a laceration, black eye, gunshot wound, and broken bones. The related crimes include:
- Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon,
- Penal Code 217.1 PC – assault on a public official,
- Penal Code 240 PC – assault,
- Penal Code 242 PC – battery,
- Penal Code 664/187 PC – attempted murder.
Why You Need Experienced Legal Defense
So, it's essential to hire a lawyer who has much experience and has handled these cases and can get successful results.
Other things that prosecutors and judges look for and what we have to consider when we're looking at how to best defend an assault with a deadly weapon case in the downtown courthouse are:
- What does your criminal record look like?
- Have you had other acts of violence in your past on your criminal record?
That's going to be considered. If you have a clean record, that would be to your benefit. You'd be in a much better position than somebody with prior strikes or acts of violence.
Because then the prosecutor is going to feel like this person needs to take the full brunt of an assault with a deadly weapon – a strike on their record and send them to prison to make sure they're adequately punished for their activities.
Another thing is, you've got to look at the weapon. Is somebody using a gun, a knife, or something we don't usually think of as a deadly weapon – a bottle, your fist, your foot?
There are all sorts of things that the prosecutors can morph into deadly weapons to charge you with this grave crime.
So, step one is to determine whether we've got a defense. Step two is, if we don't have a defense, we've got to start to mitigate the case:
- Get character letters,
- Look at your prior criminal record,
- Get a letter from your job, a religious organization you're a part of or any volunteer work.
In other words, we're trying to paint a different picture of you than the police have with their investigation because the worst picture they have of you, the less likely the prosecutors will either mitigate the case down to a misdemeanor, change the charge, or keep you out of prison.
Depending on how the case is handled in the CCB courthouse, a host of bad and good things could happen to you.
I've been handling assault with deadly weapon cases for the past 30 years. I worked for the district attorney's office in the early 1990s and then as a superior court judge.
In 1994, I became a criminal defense attorney defending people just like you or your loved one who are charged with assault with a deadly weapon, strategizing angles to get the best result and to win the case depending on the circumstances.
So, if you need the best, you've got a case in downtown Los Angeles, and you or your loved one is charged with assault with a deadly weapon, pick up the phone now and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. We offer a free case evaluation via phone or use the contact form.