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Possession of a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Assault - Penal Code 17500 PC

California Penal Code 17500 PC makes it a misdemeanor crime to have possession of a deadly weapon with the intent to assault someone. If convicted, you could face up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Notably, even if you can legally carry the weapon, this law still applies.

Possession of a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Assault - Penal Code 17500 PC
PC 17500 makes it a crime to possess a deadly weapon with the intent to assault someone.

The law covers various weapons, including guns, knives, brass knuckles, baseball bats, rocks, and bottles. In other words, this law makes it illegal to possess any deadly weapon with the intent to assault somebody. PC 17500 says, "Every person having upon the person any deadly weapon, with intent to assault another, is guilty of a misdemeanor."

It should be noted that Penal Code 17500 PC is not commonly charged as a crime by itself but rather an alternative for criminal defense lawyers in plea bargaining with the prosecutor. 

In other words, this law is used to avoid more serious felony crimes or when a specific misdemeanor offense requires a mandatory minimum jail term.  For example, it can be utilized for someone with immigration issues when a court considers punishment.

This law could also be crucial for some defendants with professional licenses who might be considering suspending or revoking their licenses, such as doctors and lawyers.

To convict you of PC 17500, the prosecutor must prove that you carried a deadly weapon on your person, that you knew you had it, and that you had the intent of assaulting another person with it.  An assault is an attempt to commit a violent injury to someone, even without physical contact. Perhaps you threw a big rock at someone to injure them but missed, which would be considered an assault. 

What is Considered a Deadly Weapon?

The term "deadly weapon" is not clearly defined under California law but includes any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or used to possibly cause serious bodily harm or death, such as the following:

  • guns,
  • knives,
  • brass knuckles,
  • switchblade,
  • dirk or dagger,
  • baseball bat,
  • crowbar,
  • broken bottle,
  • vehicle,
  • large rock,
  • bricks.

The courts must examine the facts of the case and the context to determine whether the object in question can count as a deadly weapon.

What Factors Must Be Proven for a Conviction?

To convict you under Penal Code 17500 PC, a prosecutor must establish the following element of the crime:

  • You carried a deadly object that could inflict significant physical harm or death,
  • You knew you had possession of a deadly weapon and
  • You were intending to assault someone with it.

Prosecutors will need to prove the lethality of the object and the intended use of the object, such as the inherent design or modification for use as a weapon.

They will also use the circumstances surrounding the object's use, whether you wielded the object as a weapon in a threatening manner and the proximity of the object to the alleged victim.

Penal Code 17500 PC – Quick Facts

There are some essential facts you should know about California Penal Code 17500 PC possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault law, such as the following:

  • Assault" refers to any attempt to cause bodily injury to another person, even if no physical contact is made.
  • Possession” for the purposes of PC 17500 means explicitly carrying the weapon on your person.  
  • "Intent to assault" means that the person carrying the weapon plans to use it to cause physical harm to someone.
  • Intent is often inferred by circumstances, such as threatening statements or actions that suggest violent intentions, but proving intent can be difficult for prosecutors unless an overt threat is made.
  • You can legally carry a weapon, such as a firearm, and still be charged for violating this law.  
  • Possessing the weapon is not a crime under this law; instead, it becomes a crime when combined with the intent to assault someone. 

What Are Related Crimes?

Several California crimes are related to Penal Code 17500 PC possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault, including the following:

  • Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC – assault with a deadly weapon,
  • Penal Code 245(a)(2) PC - assault with a firearm,
  • Penal Code 245(a)(4) PC – assault likely to cause great bodily injury,
  • Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon or firearm,
  • Penal Code 417.6 PC – brandish firearm with injury,
  • Penal Code 422 PC – criminal threats,
  • Penal Code 12022 PC - armed with a firearm to commit a felony,
  • Penal Code 12002.3 PC – use of a firearm in a sex crime,
  • Penal Code 12002.4 PC – aid and abet a felony with a firearm,
  • Penal Code 30210 PC - bullets with an explosive agent,
  • Penal Code 30600 PC – assault weapons,
  • Penal Code 30610 PC – possession of a .50 BMG rifle,
  • Penal Code 33215 PC – short-barreled rifles,
  • Penal Code 32310 PC – large-capacity magazines,
  • Penal Code 29800 PC - felon with a firearm,
  • Penal Code 30305(a)(1) – felon with ammunition,
  • Penal Code 25400 PC – carry a concealed firearm,
  • Penal Code 25850 PC – carry a loaded firearm.

What are the PC 17500 Penalties?

Possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault is a misdemeanor and carries the following penalties if you are convicted: 

  • A fine of up to $1,000,
  • Up to 6 months in county jail.

A judge can impose summary probation instead of jail time, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Plea Bargain

As noted, Penal Code 17500 PC can be used as a plea bargain. For example, suppose you are charged with a felony PC 245(a)(1) assault with a deadly weapon.

In that case, your defense lawyer might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor PC 17500 deadly weapon possession with intent to assault as part of a plea bargain. This means you could avoid prison time or “strike” under the three strikes law.

Notably, PC 17500 is often used as an alternative plea when you are charged with:

  • Penal Code 245(a)(2) PC assault with a firearm,
  • Penal Code 25400 PC carrying a concealed firearm,
  • Penal Code 245(a)(4) PC assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury.
  • Penal Code 422 PC felony criminal threats

What are the PC 17500 Defenses?

To convict you of violating this law, prosecutors must prove that you had a deadly weapon or any object that could be considered one and that you intended to assault someone with that object. Our California criminal defense attorneys might be able to challenge one or more of these factors, as discussed below.

Maybe we can argue there was a lack of intent to assault, as proving intent can be a significant challenge. Perhaps we can say that while you possess a weapon, you had no intention of using it in an assault.

Maybe we can argue that the weapon was not deadly. Defenses will frequently depend on the details of the object and how it was. Perhaps we can make an argument of self-defense or defense of others. 

Perhaps we can say you carried the weapon to protect yourself or others from imminent harm; this could serve as a valid defense. You can contact us for a free case review via phone or the contact form. Cron, Israels & Stark is in Los Angeles, CA.

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