the State Bar of California
the San Diego Union-Tribune
The Press-Enterprise

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.

Client Reviews
"This has been the first time in my life that I was ever in need of legal representation. Julie took my worries and was able to make me feel at ease with the process, knowing what to expect, and potential outcomes. She handled my legal matter with confidence, charisma, and tenacity. She is both highly driven, and a skillful negotiator. She took what would otherwise be an incredibly stressful experience, and made it palatable. Thank you, Julie Baldwin." R.
"In May of 2021, I was arrested for a domestic related crime and immediately contacted criminal defense attorney, Julie Baldwin, for help. Julie reviewed every aspect of my case and developed an aggressive defense strategy. Her years of experience as a deputy district attorney and assertiveness gave me confidence in facing my charge which was ultimately dismissed by the district attorney's office. I highly recommend Julie Baldwin to anyone facing criminal charges and in need of legal assistance." WC
"I was in a bad place when I contacted Julie to be my defense attorney. I had 4 felony charges on me because of what my ex-wife did. I had legal issues in the military and was going through a divorce. All at the same time. Julie was so positive and uplifting. Julie was extremely proactive with the steps she recommended I take to prepare for court. She was very involved with all aspects of my life. Julie was concerned with more than just my court case. Her first-hand knowledge of the legal system was top notch and very comforting..." ATI