Assault With a Deadly Weapon Mens Rea in California

In People v. Colantuono (1994) 7 Cal. 4th 206, the court deciphered the requisite intent for assault with a deadly weapon as follows: "From the foregoing we can distill the following principles concerning the mental state for assault: The mens rea is established upon proof the defendant willfully committed an act that by its nature will probably and directly result in injury to another, i.e., a battery. Although the defendant must intentionally engage in conduct that will likely produce injurious consequences, the prosecution need not prove a specific intent to inflict a particular harm. (Cf. Pen. Code, 7, subd. 1 '"willfully," when applied to the intent with which an act is done or omitted, implies simply a purpose or willingness to commit the act, or make the omission referred to'.) The evidence must only demonstrate that the defendant willfully or purposefully attempted a 'violent injury' or 'the least touching,' i.e., 'any wrongful act committed by means of physical force against the person of another.' In other words, 'the use of the described force is what counts, not the intent with which same is employed.' Because the offensive or dangerous character of the defendant's conduct, by virtue of its nature, contemplates such injury, a general criminal intent to commit the act suffices to establish the requisite mental state. " ( People v. Colantuono, supra, 7 Cal. 4th at pp. 214-215.)