Assault with a Deadly Weapon Definition
When you hear the term “deadly weapon,” you may assume that we are talking about firearms. Yet, there is a separate law for assault with a firearm because it is the one weapon that does not touch another person, the victim. Only its output, the bullet, does that.
Assault with a deadly weapon is covered by California Penal Code 245, which also addresses assault with a firearm under varied situations, such as using the grip of a handgun to beat a person.
A deadly weapon can be anything (not a firearm) that can be used to harm another person and cause extreme injuries, including death.
Items that might be used are baseball bats, iron rods, knives, bricks, and even ballpoint pens and sharp pencils, to name a few. Almost anything, that when used with enough force applied to the tool, can be called a dangerous weapon. Here are some examples.
Throwing Bricks at Vehicles – A Scenario
Jon Berger and Billy Waltzer (not their real names), both 16 years old, decided on a whim late one night, to get to the overpass of the highway close to their homes.
Along the way, they found three bricks loose on the ground by an abandoned home. They picked them up and put them in Jon’s backpack which he always wore everywhere he went.
When they got to the highway overpass, Billy dared Jon to throw one or two of them at cars passing underneath the overpass on their side. The target was to be the rooftops of the cars and the timing had to be just right to hit the roof exactly.
On the first try, Jon missed the car entirely as the brick fell behind the car onto the road. For the next try, Jon dropped the second brick sooner, but the brick hit the front window, crashing through the glass, and knocking out the driver.
The car bounced off the right-side wall just past the overpass, then careened over to the other side of the highway, headed straight into another car coming from the opposite direction. Jon and Billy looked on in horror as their prank escalated into a terrible disaster.
A mother, father, and two out of three children in the back seat died on impact in the second oncoming car. A baby, still in its seat, was pulled out with only minor scratches. The driver of the first car also died at the scene from his injuries.
The two boys were caught because someone had seen the boys earlier on the overpass and called police. While the police did not arrive in time to avert the accident, they caught the two boys sitting on the ground of the bridge crying. The backpack was found at the point where the bricks were thrown, and the third brick was found inside the pack.
What was a dangerous boys’ prank, was now a murder case, due to the number of deaths involved, and a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, was now a felony second-degree murder charge.
However, the intent of the two boys was not to commit physical harm against anyone. The defense attorney is also looking at a plea deal that might reduce the sentence further to manslaughter, along with other options.