Oftentimes when individual citizens feel that they are under attack, they find it rational and reasonable to defend themselves the best way that they can, even if that means firing at one’s assailants. When the persons who are the target happen to be plainclothes policemen, however, the legal line between defending oneself and assault becomes blurry. This was exactly the case in a recent happening near 24th and Market streets. Local law enforcement agents suspected that a 33-year-old Castro Valley man was hiding a marijuana grow house in a West Oakland building. Walking near the building, and out of uniform and undercover, they seemed to the accused to be robbers, so he fired a few shots at them in an attempt to get them to vacate the premises. What the Castro Valley man didn’t know was that he would soon be arrested for assault with a deadly weapon (ADW – CA Penal Code 245) and weapon violations in conjunction with drugs. What you may not know is that a conviction for an ADW involving law enforcement comes with special, and more severe, penalties.
Violating CA PC 245 is a California ‘wobbler.’ This means that prosecutors may choose to treat it as either a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending upon how serious they view the violation to be. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor ADW, you can expect to spend a maximum of 1 year in county jail. However, if you are convicted of a felony ADW, with no special circumstances attached, you can expect a sentence of somewhere between 2 and 4 years in state prison. The penalties only multiply if the crime involved a ‘protected person’ like a firefighter or a policeperson. More importantly, an ADW with a firearm is always considered a felony and, depending upon the kind of firearm you used (a semiautomatic, machinegun, assault weapon, or a .50 BMG rifle mean the harshest penalties), you could spend up to 12 years in state prison if convicted.