With its packed highways and interstates, California is notorious for weary daily drivers getting into unnecessary arguments that can lead to accidents, road rage and even deaths. With the tragic news of young Lilly Garcia’s death in New Mexico (http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/22/us/child-road-rage-killing/) due to a shooting related road rage it should be a lesson to all that a road rage car incident can lead to criminal charges for assault or even murder. If you are arrested for assault or other criminal charges after a road rage incident, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to determine any defenses you may have to what would be charges in a serious felony case.
- Assault with A Deadly Weapon in California
Whether you are driving on the highways of Los Angeles, Pasadena, Ontario, Huntington Beach or any other city in California you should be aware that if you use your car in a road dispute, you can be charged with a crime. Under California Penal Code section 245(a)(1) a person can be found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon if the arrestee did:
- An act with a “deadly weapon” that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person.
- Not act in self-defense or in defense of someone else.
It should be noted that a deadly weapon does not have to be a gun, assault rifle or other firearm but can also be a car or even someone’s fists. Moreover, assault with a deadly weapon is not necessarily a specific intent crime meaning that someone commits an act “willfully” when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, injure or hurt someone else. Moreover, the force necessary to constitute an assault just means to touch in a harmful or offense manner. The actually touching does not have to cause pain or injury. In addition, the Government does not actually have to prove that a person was even touched by an assault but a crime can occur by just waving your gun in someone’s face in a willful and threatening manner.
There are many defenses which can be asserted in a criminal assault case, including self-defense which may arise in many different scenarios including a road rage case. Such legal defenses should be explored and utilized when defending a criminal assault case in California.
- Second Degree Murder in California
When a person is killed in a road rage or other similar vehicle case, a person may face charges for murder in California. Under California Penal Code section 187, a person may be found guilty of second degree murder where malice aforethought is implied by the defendant’s reckless disregard for human life which leads to the death of another person. For example, firing a gun into a moving car in California even though you didn’t intend to kill another person, especially a child as with the Defendant in the Lilly Garcia death, can constitute conduct sufficient for a conviction of second degree murder.
In California, a conviction of second degree murder exposes a defendant to a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison. It is imperative when you are arrested for second degree murder, whether it is related to road rage or the death of another from such things as a bar fight, to consult with a qualified California criminal attorney to determine your rights including any potential defenses such as self-defense or defense of another who is facing imminent harm.