An argument between a laundromat employee and a customer became heated on Saturday, San Diego police say, and escalated to the point where the customer was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. The deadly weapon? A skateboard, along with a chemical self-defense spray.

While details are relatively slim, the 26-year-old customer, a San Diego man, is accused of hitting an employee of a Rolando neighborhood laundromat with a skateboard during the argument. When another employee got the skateboard away from him, police claim, the angry customer sprayed the first employee with a chemical spray.

Police arrested the customer on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, misuse of tear gas and, apparently based on a search at the time of the arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia.

While the idea of “assault with a deadly skateboard” may be amusing at first, it is important to remember that a “deadly weapon” doesn’t have to be a gun for prosecutors to file this charge. Baseball bats, knives, cars — even fists — have been legally considered deadly weapons for the purposes of assault charges.

In felony cases in which the deadly weapon was something other than a firearm and the assault resulted in great bodily harm, the defendant could face a sentence of up to 4 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Felony assault with a deadly weapon may also count as a strike under California’s Three Strikes law.

You should also keep in mind that using a chemical spray such as mace or tear gas is illegal in California, except when used solely in self-defense. If the San Diego man is convicted of its misuse, he could face a sentence of up to 16 months in state prison or three years in a county jail, along with a fine of up to $1,000.

If you have been charged with an assault crime, whether during a bar fight, in the context of domestic violence, or due to a dispute that got out of hand, you are facing serious criminal charges. An experienced attorney may be able to help you reduce the charge against you from a felony to a misdemeanor, get your charges dismissed, or help you present a powerful defense at trial.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “San Diego man held on suspicion of using skateboard as weapon,” Tony Perry, Oct. 22, 2011