When Is a Car a Deadly Weapon?

When Is a Car a Deadly Weapon?

Road rage incidents occur frequently in the Los Angeles area as a combination of heavy traffic, frayed nerves and short tempers can often lead to violent outbursts on the road. Road rage incidents are almost always sudden, unplanned acts, however when these incidents go too far a driver may find themselves being charged with assault with a deadly weapon. In California, a car can be considered a deadly weapon under the law and can lead to felony charges.

Definition of Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Under California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon is a “strike” offense and those convicted can be sentenced to serve two, three or four years in State Prison.

To prove that a defendant is guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  • The defendant committed an act with a deadly weapon that resulted in the application of force on other person.
  • The defendant acted intentionally.
  • When the defendant acted, he or she was aware of facts that would cause a reasonable person to recognize that their act would directly and probably result in the application of force to someone else.
  • And the defendant had the present ability to use force on a person when he or she acted.

A deadly weapon is defined as an object, instrument or weapon that is inherently deadly, such as a knife, a sword or a club, as well as ordinary objects that are capable of causing death or great bodily injury.

Cars as Deadly Weapons

People in the Los Angeles area use cars in their everyday life. When people think about crimes that can be committed with cars or while driving, they usually think of DUI offenses, grand theft auto or carjacking. However, cars can be weapons capable of inflicting severe injuries and even death.

Cars weigh over two tons and can reach speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour. Driving intentionally towards someone is a dangerous and deadly act and can lead to felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

A driver can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon when they intentionally drive at a pedestrian or even when they drive intentionally at another vehicle, as both situations can cause serious injuries and death.

If a driver causes great bodily injury to another, the District Attorney can add the “great bodily injury” enhancement pursuant to California Penal Code Section 12022.7. This is an automatic strike and if convicted, the enhancement can add between three and six years consecutive to the underlying prison sentence received.

There are many defenses that may apply to a person accused of assault with a deadly weapon with a vehicle. In many cases, a person accused of assault with a deadly weapon may be driving away from the scene of an altercation because they feel their own life or safety is in danger. While driving away, they may hit or swerve towards someone else coming at them. In these cases, the driver may lack the intent to commit an intentional assault. In addition, the driver may be defending him or herself or another person. In these cases, the driver may be able to claim self-defense.

If you have been arrested for or charged with assault with a deadly weapon involving a vehicle, it is imperative that you speak with a knowledgeable attorney right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Attorney Michael Kraut understands how to effectively defend those charged with assault with a deadly weapon while in a vehicle.

For more information about assault with a deadly weapon and vehicle crimes, and to schedule your free consultation, contact attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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