Last year, a Los Angeles road rage accident was caught on camera and went viral. The incident began when a motorcyclist and a driver of sedan got into an argument on the road. The motorcyclist sped up next to the car, yelled profanities, and then kicked the driver’s door. The car veered into the motorcyclist, pinned him against the road’s center divider, and then crashed into a truck. The truck flipped over and landed on its roof. The truck’s driver was seriously injured and transported to the hospital for care. Until earlier this week, the motorcyclist who caused the accident could not be found. After conducting a thorough investigation, Los Angeles police arrested the man they believe to be at fault. The motorcyclist is facing criminal charges, including a charge for assault with a deadly weapon.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon
We tend to think of guns and knives as instruments that are used to commit assault with a deadly weapon. However, the definition of what qualifies as a deadly weapon is fairly broad. Courts have explained that a deadly weapon should be defined to include “any object, instrument, or weapon which is used in such a manner as to be capable of producing and likely to produce, death or great bodily injury.” As a direct result of this broad interpretation, many different items can qualify as a deadly weapon.
How does a motorcycle qualify as a deadly weapon? In order to be a deadly weapon, an item must be:
- Capable of causing harm, and
- Used in a way that is likely to produce death or great bodily injury.
The average motorcycle on the road can weigh anywhere between 200-1,000 pounds. When driving at high speeds, a motorcycle can be incredibly dangerous and capable of causing harm.
When a motorcycle rider uses his bike in an effort to drive another person off of the roadway, that behavior is likely to cause great bodily harm or death. As a result, a motorcycle, at least in this situation, can be considered a dangerous weapon.
Penalties for Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Since the road rage motorcyclist caused such devastation with a dangerous weapon, he is facing criminal charges for assault with a deadly weapon. In California, assault with a deadly weapon can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The specific details of the crime will help the state to determine which type of charge should be filed. Factors that may influence the severity of the charge include:
- Whether victims sustained injuries or harm
- The degree of harm suffered by the victims
- The type of dangerous weapon used in the assault
- Whether the victim was a member of a protected class (e.g., elderly, police, disabled), and
- The defendant’s record of criminal behavior.
Misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon is punishable by up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail and $1,000 in fines.
Felony assault with a deadly weapon is punishable by 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.
The penalties can be aggravated if a firearm was involved or if victims were seriously injured or killed because of the assault.
Defending Assault With a Deadly Weapon Charges
Police investigated the Los Angeles road rage incident for seven months before making an arrest. During this time, they likely collected and analyzed a significant amount of evidence to support their case. The defendant will have the opportunity to contest the charges and defend himself. The following defenses may be helpful:
- The deadly weapon was not used in a way that was likely to produce harm
- Acting in self-defense, or
- The act was not done willfully.
Fighting Criminal Charges in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles road rage motorcyclist has the right to defend himself. His chances of securing the best possible outcome in his case will increase if he hires an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to handle his case. An attorney will understand the best strategy for a defense and make it more difficult for the state to satisfy their burden of proof.
If you are facing criminal charges for assault with a deadly weapon in Los Angeles, do not hesitate to contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center for help. Our experienced attorneys will review your case, explain your rights, and answer the questions you have.