A San Diego man was recently taken into police custody after he was accused of threatening another man with a machete. When police arrived on the scene in at approximately 4 AM, they witnessed the man walking between El Cajon Blvd and Meade Ave in North Park. The man refused to drop the large knife when confronted by police, and was subdued with bean-bag pellets and a police dog.
What kind of criminal charges can be filed against a man who threatens another person with a machete? San Diego prosecutors may pursue charges for brandishing a deadly weapon and/or assault with a deadly weapon. The specific charges will depend on the seriousness of the man’s conduct.
Brandishing a Deadly Weapon
In California, it is illegal to draw, exhibit, or use a deadly weapon in a threatening manner. Brandishing a deadly weapon, as defined in Penal Code 417 PC, occurs when a person:
- Draws or exhibits any deadly weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or
- Unlawfully uses a deadly weapon in a fight or quarrel.
Let’s break down the required elements of the crime:
What is a deadly weapon? For the purposes of California law, a deadly weapon is defined to mean “any object, instrument, or weapon that is inherently deadly or dangerous or one that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury.
The definition is fairly broad and can be interpreted to include a variety of different items. Some items that have innocuous and innocent purposes – such as a pillow or high heel shoe – can be considered a deadly weapon when used for malicious purposes.
A machete, which is essentially a very long, sharp knife or sword, could very easily be considered a deadly weapon.
Rude, Angry, or Threatening Manner
In order to be charged with brandishing a deadly weapon a person must do more than simply display an item to another person. The weapon must be displayed in a “rude, angry, or threatening manner.” A jury will consider all relevant circumstances to determine if the method in which a weapon was displayed should be considered rude, angry, or threatening.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon
California law also prohibits assault with a deadly weapon. Assault, as defined in Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC, occurs when you engage in conduct that “by its very nature, would probably result directly in the application of force to someone else.”
There are few specific details about the behavior in which the San Diego man engaged. Reports indicate that the “threatened” another person. If this threat included behavior that would likely cause him to make contact with or harm that person, he could face charges for assault. For example, if he actively swung the machete at another person or charged at them while holding it in their direction, he may face charges for assault. If he simply displayed the weapon, but did not engage in conduct which would put the other person in harm’s way, he may only face charges for brandishing the weapon.
Penalties for Crimes Involving a Deadly Weapon
Displaying or using a deadly weapon to intimidate or harm another person are serious crimes in California. The penalties the San Diego man faces will depend on his specific behaviors and his criminal past.
Consequences for Brandishing a Deadly Weapon Other than a Firearm
Brandishing a deadly weapon can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony charges generally only apply when the deadly weapon used is a firearm. Brandishing a deadly weapon, other than a firearm, is generally a misdemeanor, punishable by no less than 30 days in jail.
Consequences for Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Assault with a deadly weapon can also be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The specific charge will depend on the:
- Type of weapon involved,
- Seriousness of the offense,
- Degree of harm to any victims, and
- Defendant’s criminal record.
Misdemeanor: Misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon is punishable by one year in a San Diego County jail.
Felony: Felony assault with a deadly weapon is punishable by 2-4 years in prison. The sentence can be extended if a victim suffers serious bodily injury.
Fighting Deadly Weapon Charges in San Diego
Displaying or using a deadly weapon in San Diego can have serious criminal consequences. If you have been arrested for a crime involving a deadly weapon, do not hesitate to contact the San Diego Criminal Law Center for help. Our attorneys will help you fight any criminal charges you may face. A strong defense can help you minimize the consequences of your arrest and avoid serious penalties. Call today to request a free consultation and learn more.