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Assault With a Deadly Weapon in 2024:
(Definition, Penalties, and More)

The crime of assault with a deadly weapon, or “ADW”, occurs when a person assaults another person with a deadly weapon or uses force that is likely to produce a great bodily injury.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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What is Assault?

Assault is the crime of causing physical harm or unwanted physical contact to another individual, or, in certain jurisdictions, the threat or attempt to do so. It is both a crime and a tort that may result in criminal prosecution, civil liability, or both.

What is a Deadly Weapon?

A deadly weapon is defined as any object, instrument, substance, or device which is intended to be used in a way that is likely to cause severe injury or death. This includes not only weapons that are designed to do harm like a gun or knife, but also blunt instruments like clubs, baseball bats, wrenches, a vehicle, or any object which has the potential to cause death.

What is the Difference Between a Dangerous Weapon and a Deadly Weapon?

A “dangerous weapon” is not necessarily always deadly. It is not ordinarily lethal, although, under the right circumstances, it may be used to kill. For example, an unloaded pistol, although not “deadly,” is “dangerous” because it can still be used to bludgeon someone.

What are the Elements of Assault With a Deadly Weapon?

The crime of assault with a deadly weapon consists of the following elements, all of which need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant committed an act with a deadly weapon that would result in the application of force on another person, OR the defendant did not use a weapon but used force likely to cause great bodily injury.
  2. The defendant acted willfully and of their own accord.
  3. When the defendant acted, they were aware that their actions would directly or probably result in the application of force to another.
  4. AND when the defendant acted, he or she had the present ability to use force on a person.

What is the Penalty for Assault With a Deadly Weapon?

In most states, assault with a deadly weapon can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony crime. If charged as a felony, the defendant could face a sentence of 2 to 4 years in state prison.

In order to convict on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant assaulted another person and used a deadly weapon or force that would likely result in great bodily injury. It is important to understand that an assault charge does not require that you actually make physical contact with or injure the victim.

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