An 18-year-old (name withheld to protect the accused’s privacy) has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon after seemingly intentionally hitting a man with his car. The incident occurred in the Little Woods Mobile Home Park on Lakeville Highway in Petaluma, where witnesses claim that the young man was driving wildly through the park. Law enforcement officials also say that witnesses in that residential area claim that the driver nearly hit another person by accident. However, reports also seem to point to the second person being hit purposefully. Allegedly, the young man fled the scene and was only later found at his home.
In the state of California “Assault With a Deadly Weapon” (more commonly referred to as an “ADW”) is quite a serious offense indeed. In order for prosecutors to successfully argue that you have committed such a crime, they must prove that you not only intended to assault another person, but also that you did so with a ‘deadly’ weapon or that you used the type for force that was likely to cause grave injuries. Even something like a vehicle can be considered a deadly weapon. Technically, this crime is what is known as a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that prosecuting attorneys may choose to treat it as either a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the weapon and the extent of the injuries caused (CA Penal Code 245(a)(1)).
Penalties for an ADW can, as you can imagine, vary. If convicted of a misdemeanor related to this charge, you could face up to 1 year in county jail. On the other hand, if you are convicted of a felony ADW, the consequences become more severe. In fact, you could spend up to 4 years in state prison.