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Home > Crimes We Defend > Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Accused of PC 245, Assault with a Deadly Weapon
in northern california?

  • False Accusations refuted and self-defense asserted
  • Strategies to avoid a "strike" offense
  • Felony "wobblers" reduced to misdemeanor


Assault with a Deadly Weapon: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the legal definition of Assault with a Deadly Weapon in California?

Assault with a deadly weapon or ADW is an offense under Penal Code 245 in California. This section criminalizes assault with a deadly weapon, including firearms, and assault using force likely to cause serious injury.


A ‘deadly weapon’ is any object that can be used to cause death or great bodily injury. So, the law covers obvious weapons such as knives and guns, but also objects such as screwdrivers, broken bottles, and even cars, if they are used in a way that could cause serious injury or death. Further, even if no object or weapon is used, you can still be charged with the offense of assault with a deadly weapon if you use physical force against another person that is likely to cause great bodily injury.


In the San Francisco Bay Area courts, assault with a deadly weapon is considered to be more serious than "simple" assault, which is reflected by the fact that the crime can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor - whereas simple assault is always a misdemeanor. An important thing to remember is that assault does not require proof that any injury was caused to the alleged victim. Rather, the crime of assault can be doing anything that merely might cause the alleged victim physical harm or unwanted touching. For example, threatening someone with a knife, even if they are not touched or harmed at all, would be an assault with a deadly weapon

Do I need a lawyer for this type of case?

Having a lawyer is not only your right, but your best chance of fighting the case against you. Summit Defense Attorneys have handled many assault cases where we have been able to influence the process by presenting mitigating evidence to the DA to have charges dismissed or reduced, and we can help you at any stage of the process.


You should seek legal representation because these cases can have very serious repercussions. A charge of assault with a deadly weapon exposes you to the risks of a criminal record, large fines, and jail time. Further, if you are a non-citizen, you face the additional risk of being deported if convicted – which is why we have an expert immigration attorney on our team.

Beating an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge

One recent Santa Clara County case that we defended demonstrates why it is so important to have an attorney involved in your matter as early as possible. Our client, a young man from San Jose, was involved in an ongoing dispute with one of his neighbors. There was a history of conflict between the two, and one night there was a particularly bad argument that resulted in the police being called. Our client was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, because the neighbor alleged that our client had threatened him while brandishing a pistol.


Once we were able to speak to him, our client explained that he had the gun because he was afraid of his neighbor. He told us about the long history of threats and abuse from the neighbor against himself and his wife. In fact, the neighbor had told our client that he owned several firearms, and wouldn’t hesitate to use them against our client. The neighbor often was in his backyard with his guns, cleaning them and playing around with them, in an effort to intimidate our client. Earlier on the day of this incident, our client had returned home to find what looked like bullet holes in the trash cans that had been left out the night before for collection. He assumed it was the neighbor, and when he confronted him about it, he laughed and did not deny it, but said, “you’re not much better than trash, you better watch out.” This argument then escalated, until the police were called and arrived on the scene.


It was apparent that this was a case of self-defense, so we immediately went to work on establishing that defense for our client.


  • spoke to our client’s wife, other family members who had visited the home, and other neighbors, to collect evidence that corroborated our client’s story about the history with the neighbor;
  • obtained copies of complaints filed in the past against the alleged victim at his previous address;
  • made contact with the Santa Clara County DA who was handling the matter;
  • presented mitigating and character evidence to the DA, to demonstrate that our client was not a violent person; and
  • told the DA about the problems they would have in their case – primarily, that we had compelling evidence of self-defense.


Due to our attorney’s work in presenting the evidence of a strong defense, and bringing the serious difficulties with the case to the attention of the DA, we were able to persuade them to drop the case before formal charges were filed against our client. This case demonstrates how much a skilled attorney can influence the process in your case, especially when involved at the pre-file stage.

What should I say to the police?

Nothing – you only have to tell them your name and address, and show some identification if requested. Other than that, it’s best to not say anything at all to the police – your lawyer will speak for you. If you are arrested, you or your family should contact Summit Defense Attorneys immediately – in an emergency, we’re available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


If any kind of allegation is being made against you, you should never answer any questions from the police without first getting legal advice, and you should always have an attorney present when speaking to the authorities.

If you are arrested, the police are then required to tell you about your rights. These include your right to silence, and your right to a lawyer. These rights are important and you should take full advantage of them.

Being charged and going through the arrest process can be scary and intimidating, and it’s natural for you to want to defend or explain yourself. Keep in mind, though, that nothing you say at that point is likely to stop the police from charging you. Your best chance of presenting a good defense is by remaining silent and consulting a lawyer as soon as you can.


Summit Defense Attorneys defend many cases and it is almost never a good idea for a suspect to talk to the police – in fact, many people have hurt their cases by doing so. Remember, anything that is said, even in an informal conversation with the police, can be used as evidence against you.


Call us day or night for a free and confidential case review to discuss your options.

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Summit Defense Attorneys

Criminal Defense Attorneys in San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento and Surrounding Communities

Summit Defense Attorneys – San Jose
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2570 N 1st Street, 2nd Floor
San Jose, CA 95131
Phone: 408-333-9622
Summit Defense Attorneys – San Francisco
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580 California Street, 12th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: 415-666-2316
Summit Defense Attorneys – Pleasanton
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6200 Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 300
Pleasanton, CA 94588
Phone: 925-218-4730
Summit Defense Attorneys – Burlingame
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533 Airport Blvd, Suite 400
Burlingame, CA 94010
Phone: 650-763-8766
Summit Defense Attorneys – Marin
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4040 Civic Center Drive, Suite 200
San Rafael, CA 94903
Phone: 415-524-7717
Summit Defense Attorneys – Oakland
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1970 Broadway, Suite 1145
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-352-1450
Summit Defense Attorneys – Richmond
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146 Washington Avenue, Suite D
Richmond, CA 94801
Phone: 510-412-8900
Summit Defense Attorneys – Sacramento
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770 L St #950
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-830-0061