Assault With a Firearm
“Assault with a firearm” is a generally a “wobbler” offense, meaning that it can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the specific circumstances involved in each case. This offense is typically charged by prosecuting agencies as a violation of Penal Code section 245, subdivision (a), subsection (2).
As a misdemeanor, a violation of Penal Code section 245 subdivision (a), subsection (2) can be punished by six months to one year in county jail. As a felony, this offense carries a maximum possible sentence of four years in state prison.
The decision to file felony versus misdemeanor charges depends largely on three things: (1) the type of weapon and circumstances involving the alleged assault; (2) the extent of the injury suffered by the alleged victim; and (3) the alleged perpetrator’s prior criminal history. These same three factors will also have a significant impact on what the precise criminal penalties will be in each case.
Under some circumstances, when the prosecuting agency elects to file felony assault with a firearm charges, they also elect to file a special allegation pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.7, et seq. as well. This is a serious enhancement that should not be taken lightly for many reasons. The allegation requires that the prosecution prove that the defendant “personally inflicted great bodily injury” upon another person. If convicted of this allegation, this adds an additional minimum of three years to your custody sentence, but it could be more, depending upon the circumstances and which subdivision is alleged under Penal Code section 12022.7. If admitted or found to be true, this allegation also has the effect of making the underlying conviction a strike pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law. This could have the collateral consequence of doubling any sentence you may receive in certain other felony convictions that may occur in the future.
Assault with a firearm may also be a strike pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law in felony cases where the perpetrator personally used a firearm in the commission of the crime, or if the assault with a deadly weapon was committed against a peace officer. It is significant to note that assault cases involving machine guns, assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles and/or semiautomatic firearms, are always charged as felonies in California. In such cases, the potential state prison exposure can range anywhere between three and twelve years, depending on the type of firearm involved. These crimes are also strike offenses pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law.
Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to fight “the system” alone by trying to take matters into your own hands. You need a skilled and experienced attorney who understands how to evaluate the evidence in your case and explore any potential defenses that may exist in the law.
If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges for assault with a firearm, contact your Temecula/Murrieta criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC for your free case consultation now. Your future and your freedom deserve to be taken seriously by an experienced attorney who is committed to quality representation and compassionate advocacy, every step of the way.