I. California Penal Code 245(c): Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Police Officer
Legal Definition: 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.
An assault here means to attempt to batter or harm the officer.
To be found guilty under PC 245(c), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- You did an act with a deadly weapon/a ﬁrearm/a semiautomatic ﬁrearm/a machine gun/an assault weapon/a .50BMG riﬂe/force likely to cause GBI that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person;
- You did that act willfully;
- When you acted, you were aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that your act by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to someone;
- When you acted, you had the present ability to apply force likely to produce great bodily injury/with a deadly weapon/with a ﬁrearm/with a semiautomatic ﬁrearm/with a machine gun/with an assault weapon/with a .50 BMG riﬂe to a person;
- When you acted, the person assaulted was lawfully performing their duties as a ﬁreﬁghter/peace officer;
- When you acted, you knew, or reasonably should have known, that the person assaulted was a ﬁreﬁghter/peace officer who was performing their duties; AND
- You did not act in self-defense/in defense of someone else.
When a firearm is a deadly weapon used to assault an officer or firefighter, the charge is filed under PC 245(d).
II. What does this mean?
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage. A ﬁreﬁghter includes anyone who is an officer, employee, or member of a governmentally operated ﬁre department/ﬁre protection or ﬁreﬁghting agency in this state/federal ﬁre department/federal ﬁre protection or ﬁreﬁghting agency, whether or not he or she is paid for his or her services.
An officer is any person who is designated by their employer and is placed in charge of enforcing California laws or city ordinances. Even if you do not use a weapon, you can be found guilty of you use means likely to cause GBI to an officer or firefighter. Because Assault is a Specific Intent crime, Voluntary Intoxication is not a defense against an assault charge.
An assault on a police officer or firefighter is a straight Felony in California. If you are convicted, you could face up to three, four, or five years in a State Prison. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence. Under PC 245(d)(1), you could face up to four, six, or eight years in State Prison.
Further, because this is a Felony only offense, you would lose your 2nd Amendment Right to have a Firearm for life. If you are sentenced to State Prison, you would also be unable to Expunge your case at a future date. Assault on an officer or firefighter with a deadly weapon is considered a serious offense and a strike offense under California’s Three Strikes Law. If found convicted of PC 245(c), you could face enhanced penalties for subsequent criminal convictions. Further, if you are shown to have used a vehicle during any assault, whether on a police officer or on another person, you lose your Driver’s License for life.
IV. Common Defenses
They always say knowing is half the battle, here that couldn’t be more accurate. If you are not aware that the person that you are assaulting is a police officer or firefighter, then you cannot be found guilty under this section. This generally happens when a person sees another person being attacked by an officer in plain clothes. Simply because that plainclothes person has handcuffs, does not necessarily mean that they are a police officer. However, playing dumb here will not win your case. The belief has to be reasonable to most people in assessing your situation.
The officer also has to be in the lawful performance of their duties. For example, a police officer falsely accused you of stealing from a store and decides to arrest you. They are now making an unlawful arrest of you for something you didn’t do. Because of this, resisting would not be an assault on a police officer, because you knew, as well as the cop, that they were not in the lawful performance of their duties as a police officer.
V. Call Today
An assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer charge can be devastating to you or your loved one’s life. Many times, if a fight occurred, you could suffer additional charges such as Criminal Threats, and if multiple officers are involved, then multiple charges in addition to what you did to cause the first assault. You are facing many years in prison, in addition to the stiff fines and fees, as well as losing your 2nd Amendment Rights. You need an experienced attorney to fight for you or your loved one. Our PC 245(c) Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases involving Assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer under PC 245(c). The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.
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