Articles Posted in Crime

Many of us believe that every criminal case ends up at trial. In reality, many cases end with a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution, which often provides a favorable outcome for the defendant. California continues to respect the boundaries of plea agreements in numerous ways. This article will explore the various laws and elements surrounding plea bargains.

Plea Bargains Explained

A plea bargain is a good option when attempting to lessen the risk involved with a trial. A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecution by which the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to criminal charges in exchange for reduced charges, dismissed charges, or the prevention of further charges being filed. Sometimes the defense attorney will recommend an even lower plea bargain sentence. Multiple offers and counteroffers can occur before a plea sentencing arrangement is reached. Plea bargains can occur at any moment during a criminal proceeding. Plea bargains are advantageous because they allow the prosecution and the defense to avoid the uncertainty of a jury. A plea bargain may involve restitution or reparation, the condition that the defendant provide information to the prosecution, or the condition that the defendant provide truthful testimony in another criminal proceeding.

While the Fourth of July is a time to celebrate our country’s independence, enjoy summer vacation, and watch as fireworks explode in the sky, it is also a time when many individuals take the opportunity to engage in crime. This article will look at some of the most common types of Fourth of July crimes and provide some tips for preventing these crimes from occurring.

Types of Crimes

Some of the most frequent crimes committed during the Fourth of July include the following:

Some minors have yet to gain full appreciation for the legal system. As a result, some minors this summer season will find themselves accused of crimes and in trouble with law enforcement. This article will examine some of the most common types of crimes that minors are accused of during the summer months.

The types of crimes that minors might find themselves getting into this summer include the following:

  • Assault and Battery: In an effort to crack down on bullying and rough-housing between minors, California law enforcement has begun to charge more minors with assault and battery. Under battery, a juvenile engages in physical contact, while for assault to exist an individual only need reasonably believe that there is the threat of real physical harm.

Have you been charged with a crime in the state of California? If so, you should regard the charges with the utmost seriousness regardless of your personal perception of their validity.  The state’s prosecutor will be making every effort to convict you – an outcome that could change your life for the worse in a drastic way. Depending on the crime you have been charged with, the penalties issued by the court upon conviction may include jail time, fines, fees, community service, loss or restriction of driving privileges, loss or suspension of driving privileges, and reputational damage. The purpose of this article is to explain the most common types of criminal charges in the state of California. If you have been charged with a crime in California, contact a skilled and experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney.

Assault and Battery Among the Most Common Criminal Charges in California

Assault and battery are common criminal charges in the state of California. Despite the relatively commonplace nature of these charges, confusion persists regarding the difference between the two. The dividing line between assault and battery is whether an actual use of unlawful force occurred. If so, then the proper umbrella charge is battery. If not, then the proper area of criminality is assault, which concerns an attempt at a use of unlawful force. Depending on whether a weapon – especially a deadly one – was used in either on assault or battery, the charge may be classified as a felony. Another important factor in determining whether to classify a battery as a serious felony is the extent to which serious bodily injury was inflicted on the victim.

If you have been charged with a crime in California and already have previous convictions in the state on your criminal record, it is imperative that you contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney.  California has a “Three Strikes” law that serves as a basis for enhanced punishments for repeat offenders.  While the law has been reformed to be less punitive than in the past, it still packs a punch and can be applied to dole out lengthy prison sentences to repeat offenders. What counts as a “strike” under the law is of great importance. An experienced attorney will work hard to either defeat the charges against you or argue that they should not rise to the level of a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” law. In other words, an experienced criminal defense attorney will work to either keep you out of jail altogether or minimize the length of the sentence. Your very freedom is at stake, so do not delay in securing the skilled legal representation you so dearly need.

A Skilled Attorney May File a Romero Motion to Lessen the Number of Strikes Against You

One of the potential tools in the arsenal of an experienced California criminal defense attorney is what is known as a Romero motion. The name comes from the 1996 case People v. Romero, and allows a judge to, when appropriate, cancel previous strike allegations and the reduce the duration of a prison sentence.  In the case itself, Romero – the defendant – was convicted of possession of cocaine. Ordinarily, conviction for this type of drug possession would result in incarceration of up to three years. However, because of California’s “Three Strikes” law, prior to its reform, Romero faced a much longer potential sentence – life in prison. This is because the law, in its original form, authorized life sentences even if an offender’s third “strike” was for mere drug possession. Romero already had strikes for separate burglary convictions – both classified as serious felonies under state law. The possibility of life in prison for a drug possession third strike did not sit well with the Romero judge, so he decided to take action to circumvent the harshness of the law. Using discretion granted to California judges to dismiss actions “in the furtherance of justice,” the Romero judge reclassified the defendant’s previous convictions as non-strike offenses. The effect was to make the possession offense a first strike rather than a third strike, and the defendant was sentenced to six years rather than life in prison.

If you have been charged with first degree murder in the state of California, your future, your freedom, your everything hangs in the balance. You need to mount the strongest possible defense, and this requires the dedication of a skilled California criminal defense attorney. In order to convict you, the state will have to prove every element of the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. The purpose of this article is to explain the elements of the charge of first degree murder in the state of California.

First Degree Murder is a Statutorily Created Crime

First degree murder is a criminal charge created by statute – a version of the more general charge of murder. The crime of murder dates back to the common law era in England and is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. First degree murder adds the elements of premeditation and deliberation to the longstanding definition of murder.  So then, first degree murder is a statutorily created crime in the state of California and is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought, premeditation, and deliberation.  Again, to convict, the state must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

While California’s “three strikes” law conjures images of America’s national pastime, it is anything but fun and games.  A “third strike” criminal conviction in the state of California can have serious long-term consequences in the form of a lengthy prison sentence. The purpose of this article is to explain how California’s “three strikes” law works. If you have been charged with a second, third, or subsequent felony in the state of California, it is imperative that you rely on a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney. Your future is at stake.

California’s Three Strikes Law was Reformed in 2012

There is some good news with regard to California’s Three Strikes Law. In 2012, the law was reformed to substantially limit the imposition of mandatory 25-years-to-life prison sentence for third-time offenders whose third offense does not rise to the level of a “violent” or “serious” felony. Think, for example, of the felony of possession of a controlled substance. Responding to public sentiment that the existing law was both unfair for treating non-violent offenders just as harshly as violent offenders, and costly for resulting in so many taxpayer-funded lengthy prison sentences, the reformed law makes important and effective distinctions. California’s three strikes law is still potent and bears much weight on an offender’s future freedom.

California Penal Code 422.55 PC defines hate crimes in the state of California. The purpose of this article is to explain the state’s hate crime law and the penalties for conviction. If you have been charged with a hate crime in California, contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney.

California Penal Code 422.55 PC Defines Hate Crimes in California

Under California Penal Code 422.55 PC, it is a hate crime to harm, threaten, or harass a person because of their disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.  Of course, it is already a crime to intentionally harm, threaten, or harass someone. In other words, you can already be charged and prosecuted for a crime even if hatred for disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation were not a motivating factor in the commission of the crime.  

In California, it is illegal to carry a concealed firearm on your person or in a vehicle. The law criminalizing the carrying of a concealed weapon is California Penal Code 24500 PC. Depending on the circumstances, such as an individual’s criminal history and whether the firearm was loaded in addition to being concealed, the punishments stemming from a conviction may be serious. Substantial fines and jail time are very real possibilities. As such, it is imperative that individuals charged with the crime of carrying a concealed weapon in the state of California consult with a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney.

Understanding Firearms and Concealment

Most everyone knows that the word “firearm” is synonymous with the word “gun.” California’s concealed firearms statute covers all terms for firearms and all types of firearms that are capable of being concealed on one’s person or in a vehicle. Specifically, California Penal Code 16520(a) defines “firearm” as a “device designed to be used as a weapon from which is expelled through a barrel a projectile by the force of an explosion of other form of combustion.” Among the two most common types of firearms are the pistol and the revolver.  

In the state of California, there is a crime termed “assault with a deadly weapon.” Codified by California Penal 245 PC, assault with a deadly weapon occurs when at least one of two criteria is met – a California assault that is committed with a “deadly weapon,” or a California assault that is committed with a level of force that is likely to produce great bodily injury. For individuals in the San Diego area who have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, it is imperative to understand the nature and potential consequences of a conviction and to retain the services of a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney.

What Makes a Weapon Deadly in the State of California?

The first question asked when contemplating the charge of assault with a deadly weapon in the state of California usually pertains to what distinguishes a “deadly” weapon from a non-deadly weapon.  California law, as one might expect, makes the differentiation. In California, a “deadly” weapon is any object, instrument, or weapon that is used a way that renders it capable of producing, and likely to produce, death or great bodily injury. Of course, the language here breeds further questions. What is “great bodily injury?” Used in what way? What objects, instruments, or weapons? Guns and knives come to mind quickly, but the list of deadly weapons contains many more items that just these two. For example, even a bottle or pencil, if used to attack someone, may rise to the level of deadly. This is because the law considers more than just the nature of the object in question; it also considers the purpose with which the object is used. Thus, an ordinary object such as a screwdriver, for instance, may be deemed a deadly weapon if used for the purpose of causing great bodily harm.