A common violation, possession of a weapon with intent to assault another person (Penal Code section 17500), is a misdemeanor. To prove that the defendant committed this offense, the prosecutor must establish that he/she:
- carried a deadly weapon (or, in immediate reach)
- had knowledge of the weapon
- intended to assault another person with it
A deadly weapon may include just about anything (knife, club, baton, bat, etc.) that may hurt/injure someone. “Assault” is defined as the attempt to commit a violent injury on another person. Please review the following examples:
- sister is having an argument with her brother and begins to chase her brother with a pair of scissors
- having been insulted by a fellow student, a student responds by driving to the insulting student’s house with a billy club in the center console
- an older neighbor, incensed when another neighbor takes the older neighbor’s newspaper, swings his cane at the neighbor
Punishment & Firearm Ban
The offense for possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault probation is a misdemeanor and is punishable up to 180 days of custody in the county jail. Also, the defendant will be unable to possess or purchase a gun for 10 years!
In all of the above scenarios, it can be argued that the defendant possessed a deadly weapon with intent to assault. However, after discussing the case with the client, it might turn out that in the above situations:
- the sister was already using the scissors while sewing and neglected to put them down before the argument with her brother began, thereby negating the intent to assault her brother with the scissors
- the student in the car was not aware that the billy club was in the car because it was not the student’s car, thereby negating the required element of knowledge
- the cane turns out to be made of a cheap, thin plastic material, negating a dangerous weapon.
As in all criminal cases, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney must discuss all the details of the case, no matter how irrelevant the details may seem to the client. Such details can be critical to show that one of the elements to the crime is missing or open to another interpretation. Of course, when presenting “the context” of how something occurred to the prosecutor, the details must ultimately appear to be reasonable in order to negate an element of the crime.
As in any case involving violence, there is much at stake. In addition to the criminal penalties, there are potential employment and immigration consequences, and not least of which, the loss of a person’s reputation. Given all of the ramifications of a possession of a deadly weapon with the intent to assault charge, it is extremely helpful to speak with an attorney to be well and properly advised, to make informed and intelligent decisions, and to develop an effective defense strategy.