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Assault With A Deadly Weapon Vs Assault With A Firearm California


Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerWhen it comes to violent crimes, two charges stand out: “Assault With a Deadly Weapon” and “Assault With a Firearm.” While they may seem similar on the surface, these charges possess distinct elements, implications, and legal consequences. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the depths of California law to understand the nuances of these charges, exploring what sets them apart and what individuals need to know when facing them.


“Assault With a Deadly Weapon,” as defined by California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1), involves intentionally applying force upon another person, coupled with the use of a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm. The term “deadly weapon” encompasses an array of objects capable of causing significant harm or death, even if not inherently designed as weapons; these might include a gun, a knife, a stick, a metal pipe, a chair, or virtually any other object that is capable of causing significant harm or death if wielded in an aggressive manner.

To establish a case of assault with a deadly weapon, the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • Intentional Act: The accused intentionally engaged in an act that could potentially result in the use of force on another person.
  • Application of Force: The accused’s act resulted in the application of force on another person.
  • Deadly Weapon Use: The force was applied while using a deadly weapon.

If convicted of “Assault With a Deadly Weapon,” the defendant may face severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and a criminal record that can have lasting consequences.


Depending on the circumstances, the offense has the potential to be categorized as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In either case, the maximum penalty can reach up to four years of incarceration in either jail or prison.


Conversely, “Assault With a Firearm,” as outlined in California Penal Code Section 245(a)(2), entails intentionally using a firearm to apply force upon another person. These firearms include pistols, rifles, shotguns, semiautomatic firearms, machine guns, .50 BMG rifles, and assault weapons in a threatening manner, even if shots are not fired.

To establish a case of assault with a firearm, the prosecution must demonstrate the following elements:

  • Intentional Act: The accused intentionally engaged in an act that could lead to the application of force on another person.
  • Application of Force: The accused’s act resulted in the application of force on another person.
  • Firearm Use: The force was applied while using a firearm.

Similar to “Assault With a Deadly Weapon,” a conviction for “Assault With a Firearm” can lead to significant legal consequences, including incarceration and fines.

If the firearm involved happens to be a machine gun, assault weapon, or semiautomatic firearm, committing an assault using any of these objects can result in a sentencing of three to twelve years in a state prison. However, if the assault involves a “generic” firearm, the offender could face a punishment ranging from six months in county jail to a four-year term in prison.


While both charges involve the application of force on another person, the primary distinction lies in the weapon used during the commission of the offense. Understanding this difference is crucial for defendants, legal professionals, and those seeking insights into California’s legal landscape.

  • Weapon Factor: The central divergence between the charges is the nature of the weapon employed. In “Assault With a Deadly Weapon,” the weapon used need not be a firearm; it can encompass any object capable of causing grave harm. This broad definition can include objects like knives, baseball bats, or even vehicles used intentionally to harm another person.
  • On the other hand, “Assault With a Firearm” specifically requires the use of a firearm to apply force. Firearms possess unique implications due to their lethal potential and are subject to rigorous regulations under state and federal law.


The potential penalties for both charges reflect the severity of the weapon involved and the level of harm inflicted. “Assault With a Deadly Weapon” is generally prosecuted as a wobbler offense in California, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor crime or a felony, based on the circumstances and the defendant’s criminal history. Convictions can result in imprisonment, fines, probation, or a combination of these consequences.

Assault With a Firearm,” due to the inherent danger associated with firearms, is typically charged as a felony crime. If convicted, individuals may face substantial prison sentences, substantial fines, and other legal consequences.


When facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon or assault with a firearm, it’s essential to explore potential defenses and legal implications. Several defense strategies can be employed, such as self-defense, lack of intent, or mistaken identity. Consulting with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney is imperative to building a strong case and ensuring that defendants receive fair representation.


In the intricate tapestry of California’s criminal law, distinguishing between charges like “Assault With a Deadly Weapon” and “Assault With a Firearm” is essential. Understanding the nuances of these charges can make a significant difference when navigating the legal system, ensuring that justice is served with precision and fairness. If you find yourself facing gun crime charges, seeking legal counsel from a gun crime defense attorney is crucial to safeguarding your rights, building a robust defense, and securing the best possible outcome in your case. To learn more about what Tabibnia law firm can do for you, please call 866-713-2159 for a comprehensive consultation.

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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