Under Penal Code § 16590
A deadly weapon for the purposes of Assault is defined as any object that could be used to inflict serious bodily injury. This could be anything from a shoe, to a bottle, to a sword. Therefore the courts must be stricter for the purposes of Possession of a Deadly Weapon and thus the weapons defined under this section are far more dangerous than those recognized for Assault. Under PC § 16590, a deadly weapon includes firearms, knives, daggers, nunchucks, brass knuckles, grenades and other obvious deadly explosives.
The crime of possession is generally a strict liability crime, meaning all the prosecution must prove is that the contraband was on your person or under your control. It will not be a defense that you did not know of the illegal nature of the weapon or its criminal classification as a deadly weapon at the time of possession. If the police discover weapons upon a lawful entry into your home or search of your vehicle, whether or not you had actual knowledge of the contraband will not be a necessary element the prosecution must prove. Possession alone will be sufficient.
A skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge the legality of the search in which he weapon was seized. Law enforcement must follow strict guidelines set forth by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution with regards to searches, seizures, and arrests. If these guidelines are not followed because they failed to meet the warrant requirements necessary for a search, the search went beyond the scope of the warrant, or if they illegally searched your vehicle without a reasonable suspicion of finding contraband inside the car, all evidence obtained may not be used against you, including the weapon itself. Even if the weapon was properly seized, if the possession is charged in conjunction with other offenses, as is generally the case, an attorney experienced in defending such charges will likely also have valuable experience negotiation with the prosecution to drop charges of possession completely.
Possession of a Deadly Weapon is a “wobbler” offense, meaning the prosecution is afforded the discretion of charging the crime as a misdemeanor or a felony. How the prosecution chooses to charge the offense will be entirely dependent on the circumstances of the crime, the harm incurred by any victims, and the criminal history of the accused. A violation under this section carries up to 1 year in county jail or up to 3 years in state prison. A misdemeanor could range from 1 year in jail, some short term informal probation period, or possibly just a fine. If you are charged and arrested under this section, it is very important that you consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner they may contact the prosecution, articulate the facts of your unique disposition, and negotiate with them to drop the charge. If the prosecuting will not agree to dismiss the charges, in the alternative they may likely agree to charge the offense as a misdemeanor and stipulate to the minimum punishment allowable.
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