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California Assault FAQs

  1. If my lawyer's representation was bad, can I get a new trial?
  2. Can a piece of wood with a sharp end qualify as a 'deadly weapon'?

If my lawyer's representation was bad, can I get a new trial?

A new trial will only be granted when either the trial court or an appeals court decides that you received ineffective assistance of counsel from his lawyer. To win this argument, you must show that your lawyer's representation fell short (1) when measured against a reasonably competent lawyer and (2) when the poor performance resulted in prejudice (seriously contributed to his conviction). This prejudice must be so significant that the adversarial process of the trial could not be relied upon for producing a fair result.

When making this decision, courts are reluctant to second guess the tactical decisions made by a trial lawyer. The final question is whether or not the decisions that were made by the lawyer were so bad—considering all of the surrounding circumstances of the trial—that the trial did not produce a fair fight or just result. A trial is an adversarial process by nature and if one side's representation is so poor that it wasn't a fair fight, a new trial can be granted. You should contact an attorney who handles criminal appeals to determine whether your right to a competent attorney and a fair trial has been violated.

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Can a piece of wood with a sharp end qualify as a 'deadly weapon'?

Most likely. Certain items such as firearms have been held by the courts to be deadly weapons as a matter of law. Other objects, while not deadly in everyday use, may be used under certain circumstances in a manner that is likely to produce death or great bodily injury; as such, they can be considered to be deadly weapons.

Factors that are considered to determine whether an object is inherently dangerous include:

  • The nature of the object
  • The manner in which it is used in all of the surrounding circumstances of its use

In various cases, courts have considered deadly weapons to include:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Knives
  • Ice Picks
  • Three Pronged Forks
  • Bow & Arrow

In a recent southern California case, the Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's conviction for assault with a deadly weapon when his female accomplice, either before or after the robbery, held the victim's sharp pencil up to his neck and threatened him.

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Have more questions? Contact us now to speak to an experienced California assault lawyer!

Ronald Dinan & Associates, Attorneys & Lawyers, Santa Rosa, CA