California Penal Code 245(c) PC | Assault with a Deadly Weapon Upon Peace Officer

In California, assault with a deadly weapon upon a peace officer is charged under penal code 245(c) pc making it a crime to commit an assault with an instrument, other than a firearm, by means likely produce great bodily harm upon a police officer or firefighter.[1] The crime is a straight felony that cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor and is labeled as a “strike,” applicable to California’s Three Strike laws.

Elements of the Charge

The prosecution holds the burden of proving each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You 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. You knew or should have known that the act would probably result in the application of force;
  4. You had the present ability to apply force to an officer;
  5. The officer was lawfully performing their duties;
  6. You knew or reasonably should have known the person was an officer.

Legal Defenses to PC 245(c)

  • Lawful Performance: As a matter of public policy and department integrity, law enforcement personnel must be acting within the scope of their duty effectuating your detention or arrest. Issues of excessive force or illegal behavior on the officers part will remove their lawful duty and allow a suspect to assert a defense in that the officer was acting outside their allowable duties.
  • Self-Defense: The law permits a person to act in self-defense to prevent unreasonable risk of injury to themselves or another. This defense encompasses physical encounters with police officers who engage in acts of force that is more than necessary to satisfy their duty. Accordingly, if you responded by pushing or striking an officer as means to prevent further unlawful use of force, then the law will recognize your entitlement to respond with reasonable force.
  • Knowledge: A suspect must have knowledge that the person they are resisting from is a police officer. Lack of knowledge may be the product of undercover officer encounters or perhaps a uniform officer physically detaining you behind your back.
  • Mistaken Identity: A substantial number of cases rest solely on a purported victim or witnesses questionable identification of the perpetrator. This raises concerns especially if there’s no corroborating evidence to support the witnesses claim. Mistaken identification can be the product of several factors including, poor lighting, cross-racial identification, stress over the incident, memory recollection, and even improperly asking closed ended questions.

Punishment & Sentencing

Assault with a deadly weapon upon a public officer is a straight felony punishable in the state prison for 3, 4, or 5 years. Additionally, the court can impose a fine up to $10,000. Other consequences include, a permanent felony strike on your record, life-time ban on owning or possessing a firearm, and adverse immigration or licensing consequences.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been arrested or charged with PC 245(c), then contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Newport Beach criminal defense attorney. Our consultation are confidential and we can help explain your rights and defenses, and potential exposure. Give us a call today.

Related Offense


[1] Penal Code 245(c) (“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 that 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, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or five years.”)

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