Driver Accused of Assault with a Deadly Weapon After Hitting Cyclist From Behind (CA Penal Code 245)

Rabin Nabizadeh
August 5, 2015

When people think of an assault with a deadly weapon (more commonly referred to as an “ADW”), the image of a motor vehicle rarely comes to mind. Yet, a man from Bolinas (62) has recently been arrested for just such a violation of the law, in a supposed instance of road rage. A bicyclist was apparently traveling down Point Reyes and Petaluma Road in Marin County when he encountered the 62-year-old man’s car. Evidently, the cyclist had moved into an improper lane in order to take a photograph and the driver was angered by this, yelling and making obscene gestures. The driver was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after having allegedly struck the cyclist from behind.

California law concerning assault with a deadly weapon is quite broad. Any time that one individual assaults another with a weapon that could be considered, subjectively, ‘deadly,’ or in a circumstance in which serious injury may occur, they may have committed an ADW (CA Penal Code 245). Normally, when it comes to an ADW, the weapon in question is a firearm, knife, or other such common weapon. However, the law also considers dogs and even cars ‘deadly’ when they are used to injure or attempt to injure another person.

ADWs in California are technically ‘wobblers,’ meaning that the prosecutors in charge of the case determine whether or not to treat the crime as a felony or as a misdemeanor, depending upon the weapon used, whether or not there was an injury, and other considerations specific to each case. If convicted, the Bolinas man in the case above could spend up to 1 year in county jail. However, a conviction on a felony charge of ADW could mean facing up to 4 years in state prison.

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