California Penal Code 245(a)(1) defines assault with a deadly weapon as an assault that is committed with any type of deadly weapon or by means of force that is likely to cause great bodily injury to another.

This type of charge is what's known as a wobbler. A "wobbler" is a crime that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This decision is usually based on three factors:

  1. the type of weapon or instrument used to commit the alleged ADW,
  2. whether the person whom you allegedly hurt sustained an injury, and if so, how severe.
  3. whether the alleged victim an officer, firefighter, or other "protected" person.

Many people in California get wrongfully accused of assault with a deadly weapon. Accusers sometimes exaggerate or even lie to the police. The Defendant may have acted in self defense, or didn't try to hurt the "victim".

PC 245a(1) describes offenses committed with a "deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm or by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury." Deadly weapons may be obvious – like guns – but may also consist of commonly used household items that can be used in harmful ways, like kitchen knives or scissors.

In addition, the "any means of force" is defined to include any sort of physical assault – even if something other than a deadly weapon, (like your hand) is used.

"Great bodily injury" is a broad category that is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the prosecutors, but can include relatively minor and nonpermanent wounds, like a broken nose. The maximum punishment allowable for ADW's under this section is imprisonment in a state prison for 2 to 4 years (or a county jail for 1 year if not a felony).