Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Police Officer
PC 245(c) Law & Defense
Law on the crime of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer is found at California penal code section 245(c).
PC 245(c) Law (Abbr.)
Any person who commits an assault with a deadly weapon or instrument, other than a firearm, or by any means likely to produce great bodily injury upon the person of a peace officer or firefighter, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the peace officer or firefighter is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, is guilty of assault on an officer or firefighter (PC 245(c)).
To assault a police officer means to attempt to injure a police officer. It does not matter if the defendant actually caused injury to a police officer under PC 245(c) law. For example, if the defendant is fleeing from officers in a vehicle, and the defendant's vehicle hits an officer's vehicle during the police chase, it is not necessarily an assault on an officer with a deadly weapon (the vehicle) unless the defendant specifically intended to injure the officer inside the officer's vehicle.
An officer is any person who is designated as such by their employer and is placed in charge with enforcing California law or city ordinances. The defendant must know that the officer is an officer acting in his or her official capacity at the time of the assault.
A deadly weapon can be just about any type of object that is inherently deadly when used, including a vehicle, a knife, a bat, a pipe, etc. The weapon must be inherently deadly under PC 245(c) law. For example, throwing a lamp at an officer during an altercation is not an assault with a deadly weapon.
Note I: When a firearm is the deadly weapon used to assault an officer the charge is filed under PC 245(d).
Great bodily injury (GBI) means a substantial injury, more than moderate, ordinary, or minor. This is decided on a case by case basis but soft-tissue injuries such as bruises or back pain would not likely suffice to charge PC 245(c).
Note II: It is possible to be charged with PC 245(c) even when a weapon, deadly or otherwise, is not used against a police officer. This happens when the defendant uses force against an officer that is likely to produce great bodily injury against the officer. For example, pushing an officer down a flight a stairs.
To be found guilty of PC 245(c), assault with deadly weapon against a police officer, the district attorney must prove that the defendant:
- willfully did an act that would directly and probably result in force against an officer or firefighter, such as physically attack, punch, kick, drive vehicle at, etc.
- when the defendant acted he or she was aware of the fact that his or her action would likely lead to great bodily injury to a police officer or a firefighter, and
- when the defendant acted, the law enforcement officer or firefighter was lawfully performing his or her job, and
- when the defendant acted, he reasonably should have known that the person he or she was attacking was a police officer or firefighter (usually the officer or firefighter is in uniform), and
- the defendant was not acting in self defense from police misconduct or clear false imprisonment
Sentence for PC 245(c)
Prison Sentence: The crime of assault on a police officer is classified as a felony. If found guilty of PC 245(c), the defendant could face up to five years in prison. Prison sentences for PC 245(c) are served at fifty percent (50%) of the actual sentence ordered if the defendant serves his or her time with good behavior.
Probation Sentence: Probation is a period of supervision in lieu of prison. Terms of probation, which are monitored by a felony probation officer, must be followed, or the defendant will be in violation of probation and may thereafter suffer enhanced penalties or be committed to prison. A probation sentence is unusual in PC 245(c) cases and is only allowed if the judge finds unusual circumstance exist in the case. Also, split prison sentences and suspended prison sentences are not available in PC 245(c) cases (See PC 1170(h)).
Three Strikes Offense: Assault on an officer with a deadly weapon is considered a serious offense and a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law. If found guilty of PC 245(c), the defendant could face enhanced penalties for subsequent criminal convictions.
Crime of Moral Turpitude: An assault on an officer with a deadly weapon is considered a crime of moral turpitude. A crime of moral turpitude is a crime that is considered inherently or morally wrong. Crimes of moral turpitude carry special consequences for immigrants and licensed professionals. Non United States citizens may be deported or denied reentry into the United States, and licensed professional may suffer a loss or suspension of his or her professional license for violations of PC 245(c). See immigrants and professionals for more information.
Suspended Driving License: If found guilty of assault on an officer with a deadly weapon, and the deadly weapon is a vehicle, the defendant will lose his or her license to drive. Also, the vehicle used in the assault may impounded for evidence or forfeited and sold. A vehicle includes golf carts and off-road vehicles.
In addition to a possible prison sentence, if found guilty of assault with a a deadly weapon on a police officer or, the defendant could face any of the following: court fines and fees, restitution, probation or parole terms, restraining orders, loss of professional license, loss of immigration status, loss of driving privileges and/or loss of vehicle, increased future punishment for subsequent convictions or violations of probation or parole, civil lawsuits, loss of rights (including the right to own or possess a firearm), mandatory anger management classes, loss of vehicle insurance, and more.
Note III: Vehicle insurance does not cover damages associated with PC 245(c) crimes.
Defenses to PC 245(c)
Common defenses to PC 245(c) charges include: insufficient evidence to prove the defendant specifically intended to injure an officer, mistake of fact, coerced confession, illegal search and seizure, statute of limitations, intoxication, insanity, and more.
In some PC 245(c) it may be possible to have the criminal charges dismissed, or to have the criminal charges, or the sentenced associated with the criminal charges, lowered to less severe levels. This depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history.
For more information on the common defenses to PC 245(c) crimes, please visit defenses.
If you or a loved one is charged with assaulting an officer or firefighter with a deadly weapon, or PC 245(c), contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys have successfully defended hundreds of felony cases, including the crime of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer. We are available every day to explain your rights and review your defense options. Call today!
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Other Assault Crimes
- PC 243(b) Assault on officer (Misdemeanor)
- PC 243(c)(2) Battery on an officer (Felony or Misdemeanor)
- PC 245(c) Assault on a peace officer or firefighter with means likely to produce great bodily injury
- PC 245(c) Assault on a peace officer or firefighter with a deadly weapon
- PC 245(d) Assault on a peace officer with a firearm