Penal Code 17500 PC - Possession of a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Assault
In California, Penal Code 17500 PC makes it a crime to carry any deadly weapon intending to assault another.
This law applies even if you are legally authorized to carry the weapon; it becomes a crime if you intend to harm someone. The law covers various weapons, from the common to the unusual.
Simply put, this law makes it illegal to have in one's possession a deadly weapon with the intent to assault another person.
The text of PC 17500 is pretty straightforward: "Every person having upon the person any deadly weapon, with intent to assault another, is guilty of a misdemeanor."
Penal Code 17500 PC is a popular alternative for criminal defense attorneys to offer in a plea bargain to more serious felony crimes or when a specific misdemeanor will require a mandatory minimum jail term.
This could be an essential consideration for somebody with immigration issues when an immigration court considers punishment.
It could also be important in defendants holding professional licenses where there could be consideration of suspending or revoking their license, such as doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc.
To convict you of violating PC 17500, a prosecutor must prove all the elements of the crime. First, they must show that you carried a deadly weapon or had one on your person, such as in your pocket. Next, it must be shown that you knew you had a deadly weapon and that you had the intent of assaulting another person with it.
If you are convicted of a crime under this statute, you could face a fine and up to six months in jail. Let's look closer at how some of these terms are legally defined for the purposes of this law.
What Constitutes a Deadly Weapon?
The term "deadly weapon" is ambiguous. Still, according to California law, it includes any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or used so that it could potentially cause serious bodily harm or death. This category consists of the following:
- brass knuckles.
However, if used with harmful intent, it can also include objects that aren't designed to be weapons but can be deadly, such as a rock or a broken bottle.
The courts must look at the facts of the case and the context to determine whether the object in question can count as a deadly weapon.
What is an Assault?
For purposes of this law, assault refers to any attempt to cause bodily injury to someone else. Note that this definition applies even if no physical contact is made. If you attempt to make contact for the purpose of causing harm, it's considered assault.
What is Possession?
In most cases, when we refer to "possession" of a weapon under California law, it can mean actual or constructive possession—that is, physically holding the weapon or having control over where the weapon is located, respectively.
However, for purposes of PC 17500, possession of a deadly weapon refers explicitly to carrying the weapon on your person. You can't demonstrate intent to assault with a weapon that is locked away in your home, for example.
What is Intent to Assault?
"Intent to assault" means that the person carrying the weapon plans to use it to cause physical harm. This intent is often inferred from the circumstances, such as threatening statements or actions that suggest violent intentions. Proving intent can be difficult for prosecutors in these cases unless an overt threat is made.
Note that you can legally carry a weapon, such as a firearm, and still be charged under PC 17500.
Possessing the weapon isn't necessarily the crime here; it becomes a crime when combined with the intent to assault someone.
Thus, you can legally own a gun and even have a concealed carry permit, but if you carry the gun with the intention to hurt someone with it, you've committed a crime.
What Are the Related Crimes?
Several California laws are related to Penal Code 17500 PC possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault, such as the following:
- Penal Code 417 PC – brandishing a weapon or firearm;
- Penal Code 417.6 PC – brandish firearm with injury;
- Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC – assault with a deadly weapon;
- Penal Code 245(a)(2) PC - assault with a firearm;
- Penal Code 422 PC – criminal threats;
- Penal Code 12022,3 PC - use of a firearm in a sex crime;
- Penal Code 12022.4 PC - aiding or abetting a felony with a firearm;
- Penal Code 23900 PC - alter firearm identification number;
- 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) PC – felon with ammunition;
- Penal Code 25400 PC – carry a concealed firearm;
- Penal Code 25850 PC – carry a loaded firearm.
Penalties for Violating PC 17500?
Possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault is a misdemeanor offense in California. If you are convicted of this crime, you can face the following penalties:
- Up to $1000 in fines; and
- Up to 6 months in county jail.
The judge also has the discretion to impose summary probation instead of jail time, depending on the circumstances of your case.
What Are the Defenses for PC 17500?
To convict you of a crime under PC 17500, prosecutors must prove the following elements:
- You were in possession of a deadly weapon, or any object that in context could be considered a deadly weapon; and
- You intended to assault someone with that object/weapon.
Thus, if you're charged with violating PC 17500, a skilled California criminal defense attorney can employ one or more defense strategies to refute these elements. The most common defenses are discussed below.
Perhaps we can argue there was a lack of intent to assault. Proving intent is one of the prosecution's most significant challenges here. Your attorney can argue that you possessed the weapon, but you had no intention of using it in an assault.
Perhaps we can argue that the weapon was not deadly. Your attorney can argue that the object in question was not a deadly weapon.
This defense's success relies heavily on the specifics of the object and how it was (or was not) used. For example, you may have had a heavy rock in your bag while arguing with someone, but you never took the stone out or intended to throw it.
Perhaps we can argue self-defense or defense of others. For example, if you carried the weapon intending to protect yourself or others from imminent harm, this could serve as a viable defense. As noted, Penal Code 17500 PC is an excellent alternative plea for someone charged with 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 25400 PC - carrying a concealed firearm;
- Penal Code 245(a)(4) PC - assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury.
Further, it's also a good alternative to a plea of Penal Code 422 PC criminal threats, which can be a wobbler and, when charged as a felony, a strike offense. You can contact us for a case review by phone or through the contact form. Eisner Gorin LLP is located in Los Angeles, CA.