Charges are dependent on the circumstances
In California law, there are many charges that a prosecutor can choose to file as a felony or a misdemeanor. This flexibility afforded to prosecutors has led to calling charges of this type “wobblers”. On what level, either a misdemeanor or a felony, the offense will be charged is dependent on the circumstances.
Assault with a deadly weapon (ADW) is just such a charge; a wobbler. And, depending on the seriousness of the attack (or the nature of the weapon used), these acts can rise to the level of aggravated assault or even mayhem. In California, the decision to file a felony aggravated assault charge, is based primarily based on three factors:
– the type of weapon or instrument used to commit the alleged ADW
– whether the alleged victim sustained an injury (and if so, the severity of the injury), and
– if the alleged victim can be classified as an officer, firefighter, or other “protected” person
A felony ADW may be warranted
The case of soap opera star Crystal Hunt, involved in a West Hollywood bar altercation, provides insight into the circumstances under which the filing of a felony ADW may be warranted.
Hunt was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly smashing a pint glass into another woman’s face during a bar brawl. In this incident, the L.A. County D.A. filed the charge plus a special allegation that Hunt used a glass as a weapon. The alleged victim was injured and required medical attention.
This case clearly demonstrates two of the factors needed for the “wobbler” to be charged as a felony. The third factor, “protected person”, is used when a public servant, such as a firefighter or police officer, is assaulted while performing their duties.
Hunt, 29, pleaded not guilty to one count of felony assault with a deadly weapon according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The actress claimed she was acting in self-defense because victim was harassing her.
If convicted, Hunt faces up to 4 years in prison.
Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman