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Assault with a Deadly Weapon

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What is Assault with a Deadly Weapon?

Assault with a deadly weapon is a very serious type of criminal offense. It’s basically an assault that’s committed with the use of a deadly weapon in the process. Assault with a deadly weapon is a form of aggravated assault.  

In an assault with a deadly weapon case, the victim doesn’t need to by physically harmed by the deadly weapon. Instead, the victim only needs to experience an “apprehension of imminent harm” in order for an assault to occur. It’s enough if the defendant purposely frightened the victim into thinking that they’d be harmed by the weapon. 

An example of this is where the defendant points a gun at the plaintiff in a menacing manner, making the plaintiff fear that they will be shot. Battery is the name for the crime if the victim is physically contacted. 

What is Considered to be a Deadly Weapon?

The definition of a deadly weapon is any instrument that is designed to seriously injure or kill a person. These types of weapons are considered to be deadly due to their basic design and nature. They are usually listed in criminal penal codes, and may include:

  • Guns (pistols, rifles, etc.)
  • Knives
  • Some martial arts weapons such as nunchaku, swords, etc.

Also, some normal, everyday objects can legally be considered deadly weapons depending on the way they’re used (such as threatening another person with injury). For example, these items are commonly used in cases involving assault with a deadly weapon:

  • Sticks or pipes
  • Wrenches
  • Hammers and other hand tools
  • Clothing (such as belts)
  • Sharp objects

In some cases, even certain animals can be considered deadly weapons. A common example of this is a pet dog that has been trained to be overly aggressive, or to attack upon command. 

What Are the Penalties for Assault With a Deadly Weapon?

Assault with a deadly weapon typically results in felony assault charges because it is considered to be a violent felony. A conviction for a felony carries some very serious legal consequences with them, including: heavy criminal fines (often in the thousands of dollars), and a sentence of greater than one year in a prison facility.

In addition, the convicted person may face other losses, including the loss of the right to carry a firearm. Being convicted of a felony may also make it more difficult to secure employment in the future.

Are There any Defenses to Assault With a Deadly Weapon?

There are some defenses that can be raised in relation to assault with a deadly weapon. A common defense is that of self-defense.  However, this usually only an effective argument if the victim actually started the conflict, and if the victim was also wielding a deadly weapon at the time. 

Another defense is “defense of others.” This is where the defendant argues that they used a deadly weapon in order to prevent a third person from being harmed. Again, however, the other parties must have used a deadly weapon as well in order to raise this defense. 

Other defenses may include insufficient evidence, intoxication, duress (the person was forced to wield the weapon), and some other defenses. Proof for each category of defense will depend on the various facts involved in the crime. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Assault With a Deadly Weapon charges?

Charges for assault with a deadly weapon can be very complicated. If you need assistance with criminal defense issues, you should contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. Your lawyer can help explain your legal options, and can determine which defenses to raise during trial. Criminal assault and battery laws can vary by state, but your lawyer can provide their expert advice for your case.

Photo of page author Peter Clarke

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 12-20-2016 11:01 AM PST

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