Posted on April 22, 2015

California P.C. § 245(c): Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Police Officer

Contrary to popular belief, P.C. § 245(c) does not require one to actually commit any touching but merely to intent and opportunity to do so. Furthermore, this code section does not include the use of a firearm. Instead, a deadly weapon encompasses any instrument other than a firearm against a police officer capable of causing great bodily injury. Consequently however, a conviction carries substantial time in California state prison. Prosecutors treat all crimes against a police officer extremely seriously which is why one should retained a skilled defense attorney to argue on their behalf. Moreover, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office implemented a specialized unit consisting of seasoned veteran prosecutors to ensure a suspect pays for the crime they committed.

Often times, assaulting a police officer with the use of a deadly weapon can be built on a number of exaggerations. In addition, usually all other police officers will additionally support those exaggerations to make an example out of someone not to mess with law enforcement. It’s important for a skilled attorney to expose those exaggerations to prove the innocence of their client or get the case dismissed completely.

P.C. § 245(c) is a straight felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor. However, a tactful defense attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charge a misdemeanor making a defendant eligible to expunge their record in the future as well as avoid spending time in California state prison. Conversely, a conviction may also lead to a permanent “strike” on your criminal record applicable to California’s “Three Strike Laws.”

Los Angeles Assault Defense Lawyer

Just because you’ve been arrested does not mean you are guilty. There are a number of defenses available to someone who has been accused of assaulting a police officer. Most attorneys are not aware of the specifics of a case that must be analyzed when representing someone who has been accused of committing a crime against a police officer. Los Angeles Assault Lawyer John Rogers has extensive experience in handling cases against police officers and stands ready to aggressively defend his clients to effectively get the case dismissed. Mr. Rogers is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The best approach to defeating any claim against a police officer is early defense intervention. Call 877-888-9820 now!

Defined by California Statute

In California, Penal Code § 245(c) provides in pertinent part, “Any person who commits an assault with a deadly weapon or instrument, other than a firearm, or by any means likely to produce great bodily injury upon the person of a peace officer or firefighter, and who knows or reasonably should know what the victim is a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the peace officer or firefighter is engaged in the performance of his or her duties is guilty of assault with a deadly weapon upon a peace officer.”

Elements of the Crime

Pursuant to CALCRIM 860, in order for someone to be found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon upon a police officer, the prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant did an act with a weapon that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a police officer
  2. The force used was likely to produce great bodily injury
  3. When defendant acted, he or she knew or reasonably should have known that the act would probably result in the application of force to another
  4. Defendant had the present ability to apply force to a police officer
  5. When defendant acted, the police officer was lawfully performing their duties
  6. Defendant knew or reasonably should have known the person was a police officer

What are the Legal Defenses to Assaulting a Police Officer with a Deadly Weapon?

  • The public officer was not lawfully engaging in the performance of their duties at the time you allegedly committed the assault. Perhaps the officer was engaging in excessive force unlawfully outside the scope of their duties.
  • The individual whom you allegedly assault is not a public officer – i.e., a security guard.
  • Self-defense: You reacted against the police officers illegal performance. For instance, defending yourself against the police officers excessive force.
  • You were reasonably defending someone else to prevent the use of the officer unlawful act or excessive force.
  • You had no reasonable reason to know the person arresting you is a police officer. Instead, the police officer was working undercover and never identified themselves or give you any reason that they were law enforcement.
  • The police officer is exaggerating the circumstances or lying in their police report and/or perjured their testimony against you.
  • You did not purposefully or intend to bring harm to the police officer(s).
  • The instrument or object used was not an object capable of causing great bodily injury – e.g., a piece of bubble gum.
  • Mistaken Identity: This occurs often when the police officer(s) cannot identify the perpetrator or “thinks this looks like [them].” Factors to show misidentification fall within cross-racial identification, poor lighting, or a traumatic experience affecting the officer’s recollection of the assailant. Police officers are human being fully capable of misidentifying someone.

What is the Punishment for Assault with a Deadly Weapon upon a Police Officer?

As mentioned above, ADW against a police officer a straight felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor. The consequences if convicted are as follows:

  • 3, 4, or 5 years in California state prison
  • Up to 5 years of supervised probation or parole
  • Court Fines up to $10,000
  • Anger Management Counseling
  • Permanent Firearm Ban
  • Immigration Consequences
  • Temporary Loss of Search & Seizure Rights
  • Restitution to the Police Officer
  • Permanent “Strike” on your Record

What is a Deadly Weapon?

A deadly weapon can virtually be any instrument or object capable of causing great bodily harm. CALCRIM 875 defines a deadly weapon as “any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or dangerous or one that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury.” Typical instruments or objects include:

  • Baseball Bat
  • Baton
  • Knife
  • Brass Knuckles
  • Rings
  • Roll of Quarters
  • Bottles

Los Angeles Defense Investigation

investigationThe preservation of evidence is critical to defending against assault charges. One should not wait, but act quickly because evidence is susceptible to being deleted or lost over time. When physical injury occurs against a suspect, the police officers generally fabricate reasons to justify using such force. Consequently, all video and/or audio recording seems to disappear or “does not exist” according to the police officers. Therefore, the entire case rests on the police officers testimony versus any corroborating evidence. Below are some points critical to defending against assault charges:

  • Photograph all injuries as early as possible. It’s best to show the judge or prosecutor fresh injuries versus older injuries that have long been healed. For instance, handcuff marks, scratches, scraps, bruises, dislocated arms / legs, etc. More often than not, the police officer will not take pictures if the arrest resulted in an injury in fear of a potential excessive force claim or lawsuit.
  • Document all witnesses who were present at the location of the incident to allow a private investigator or attorney to contact those individuals to determine if they witnessed the incident and get their side of the story.
  • Submitting notices to all neighboring businesses to preserve any audio or video recording surveillance which may have captured the event. With technology today, most people record incidences with their mobile device.
  • Names and descriptions of any police officers involved in the incident. Sometimes police officers fabricate that they were alone or with a partner versus saying that there were 4 to 5 police officers effectuating your arrest or detention.

Checking the Police Officers Personnel File for Complaints

If the police officer, lied, fabricated evidence to justify your arrest, engaged in excessive force, perjured testimony, omitted collecting exculpatory evidence, etc., your attorney may be able to obtain all complaints made against the police officer via court order. In that instance, an attorney will file a motion alleging misconduct on part of the police officer. Thereafter, a judge will review the accusations alleging officer misconduct and order all complaints against the police officer to be turned over to the defense. If these complaints reveal witnesses who were victimized by the same police officer alleging you assault them, this will be extremely beneficial in impeaching the police officer or negotiating with the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss the case completely.

Assault Expungement

criminal-backgroundIf you suffered from a conviction for ADW on a police officer then you may be eligible to dismiss your conviction – i.e., expungement. Upon proper motion, court will reopen the case and dismiss the case pursuant to P.C. § 1203.4. For more information concerning your eligibility, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers.

What are Examples of P.C. § 245(c)?

Dan was walking down the street in Los Angeles when he approached and apprehended by an uncover police officer. In response, Dan grab his knife and swung it in the direction of the police officer. Dan was immediately assault for assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon. In this case, Dan is not guilty of this crime because the officer never identified himself as a police officer for Dan to know.

Dan was arrested for suspicion of DUI after driving on a Los Angeles highway. The officer hand cuffed Dan and began pushing him and aggressively pulling his arms. In response swung his hands towards the police officer to stop him from committing unreasonable force. The officer arrested Dan for assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer and DUI. In this case, Dan would not be guilty of ADW because he was acting in self-defense in response to the officer’s unlawful force when he was in hand cuffs. Furthermore, arguably hand cuffs are not sufficient to qualify as a deadly weapon for the purposes of this statute.

Related Offenses

Contact Us for a Free Confidential Consultation

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with assault with a deadly weapon upon a police officer, contact Los Angeles Assault Defense Attorney John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers located at 1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Call 877-888-9820 now for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.

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