Articles Posted in Violent 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:

In California, there are three different types of manslaughter: involuntary, voluntary, and vehicular. If you have been charged with any of the three crimes, it is imperative that you rely on a skilled California criminal defense attorney to mount the strongest possible defense.  Conviction for manslaughter comes with serious penalties. The purpose of this article is to differentiate between the three types of manslaughter charges in the state of California.

Involuntary Manslaughter Involves an Unintentional Killing

In California, involuntary manslaughter is the appropriate charge when one person kills another unintentionally. Specifically, the unintentional killing occurs during the commission of a separate crime that, while unlawful, is not considered an inherently dangerous California felony, or during the commission of an otherwise lawful act that is capable of producing death in the absence of adequate caution. Importantly, and unlike murder, involuntary manslaughter does not require the element of “malice aforethought,” a broad category that includes intent to kill.  Involuntary manslaughter is a felony under California law, and is punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

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.  

If you have been charged with a crime in the state of California, you may face doubly serious consequences if you already have a felony conviction on your record. This is because California has a Three Strikes sentencing law on its books. Enacted in 1994, the law was intended to deter repeat offenders by levying increased punishment on subsequent serious felonies. Specifically, at its inception, California’s Three Strikes law required that a defendant convicted of a second, third, or other felony to be sentenced to a prison term twice the length ordinarily provided for the crime. The “strikes” model is one of escalation – the more strikes on one’s criminal record, the greater the punishment. While a second felony strike doubles the stakes, a third may triple them or worse. Upon receipt of a third strike via conviction of a serious felony following two or more previous such convictions, a prison term of at least 25 years to life is to be doled out by the state.  Since 1994, California’s Three Strikes sentencing law has been subject to some important amendments. Now, as then, it must be said, the law is serious business. As such, individuals facing a potential second or third strike would do well to rely on the skill and expertise of California criminal defense attorney.

Understanding the Difference Between a Felony and a Serious Felony

Language matters in lawmaking. When the California legislature crafted the Three Strikes law in 1994, it was concerned with “serious” felonies. This may create some confusion, as it is common knowledge that a felony is already termed as such to designate a crime more serious than a misdemeanor. What, then, constitutes a serious felony? The following list makes clear the crimes that are regarded as serious, and thereby triggering the Three Strikes law, by the state:

At the law firm of Sean F. Leslie, Attorney at Law, our criminal defense attorneys are extremely knowledgeable and experienced in defending restraining order violations. Restraining orders can have a devastating effect on the person restrained. They may not be able to have contact with their loved ones and may even be forced to leave their home in order to comply. If you have been charged with violating a restraining order, we are committed to defending your case aggressively and protecting your rights.

What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order, also known as a protective order, is a court order designed to protect someone from continued abuse, harassment, threats, or stalking. Generally, the restrained party is prohibited from any type of contact with the individual requesting the restraining order. Contact includes all forms of communication, including social media contact.

California’s Three Strikes sentencing law was enacted in 1994. The law enacted a life sentence for essentially any offense, even an extremely minor one, if the offender has two previous convictions for “serious” or “violent” crimes (according to the California Penal Code). Under the law, if a defendant is convicted of any felony, and already has a prior conviction of a serious or violent felony, the defendant will be sentenced to twice the prison term originally provided for the felony. If a defendant is convicted of any felony with two or more prior felony convictions (or “strikes”), the sentence is a prison term of at least 25 years to life. The three strikes sentencing structure was enacted to ensure that violent offenders are kept off the streets. However, an unfortunate side effect of this law has sentenced over half of inmates convicted under it for nonviolent crimes.

How is a “Serious” or “Violent” Felony defined?

Serious and violent felonies are defined in California Penal Code sections 667.5(c) and 1192.7(c). These types of felonies include burglary, robbery, kidnapping, murder, sex crimes, any offense in which a weapon was used and/or serious bodily injury occurred, arson, crimes involving the use of explosives, or any attempt to commit the aforementioned crimes.

Unfortunately, there will always be people out there who are willing to sacrifice the life of someone else in order to obtain money; especially life insurance rewards. Toni Henthorn, a 50-year-old woman at the time, married to Harold Henthorn, 56, went on a vacation for their twelfth wedding anniversary to a scenic place called Deer Mountain, located in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Toni was excited and wanted to get as close to nature as possible for her photography, so the two went off the trail slightly and closer to the ledge in order to get the shot she was aiming for. The suddenly, Toni fell off of the ledge and tumbled face first down the side of the mountain; it took Harold fifteen minutes to find her body and remarkably she was still breathing. By the time the paramedics arrived, however, she was dead. The shocker? Toni was sitting on life insurance policies worth four and a half million dollars and the inheritor of all of her bank accounts was Harold. According to the coroner, homicide cannot be ruled out, which lead to the indictment of Harold Henthorn over two years after the incident occurred on September 29, 2012. He was taken into possession and charged with first degree murder for the death of his wife, Toni Henthorn. Eerily enough, Harold was married before he met Toni and his ex-wife died in what he called a “car accident”; the car crushing her to death during a tire change mishap. According to Toni’s relatives, Harold had always seemed like a shady, money obsessed guy who turned Toni into a shell of her former self in order to be with him.

Sources:
“Woman Killed In National Park Had 4.5 Million Life Insurance” – UT San Diego

The public will soon become aware of what exactly the authorities claim the motive the man allegedly responsible for the triple murder that happened around Christmas had. The suspect, Carlo Mercado, had a court date originally set for October 20th of this year but was moved forward 7 weeks for reasons not released. The triple murder occurred on December 24, 2013, and all three victims were essentially family; two brothers and one brother’s fiancee. The two brothers, Salvatore and Gianni Belvedere, were ages 22 and 24 respectively and Salvatore’s fiancee Ilona Flint was also 22. When the story first hit the news, it was during Christmas Eve day after the engaged couple was found shot dead in their vehicle in the mall parking lot; the mall where Ilona Flint worked at Macy’s. When Gianni Belvedere, Salvatore’s brother, was nowhere to be found throughout the coverage of the mall shootings, it was presumed there was a love triangle in effect between the three. These rumors were dispelled immediately when the body of Gianni Belvedere was found in the trunk of a car in Riverside, 90 miles from the place of the first two murders. All the public knows so far as to how Carlo Mercado was involved is his supposed employment at the Target in the same shopping center as the Macy’s where Ilona Flint worked – attached to the parking lot in which two of the murders took place.

Sources:
“San Diego Triple Murder: Motive May Finally Be Revealed As Suspect Faces Court Date” – Inquisitr

An interesting series of events leading up to a murder occurred last year around September 24, but the man at fault was just convicted of second degree murder on Friday. Jeret Thomas Needham, 43, started an altercation with a man he has just hired as a temporary assistant to help with wrestling coaching at Madison High School. The victim, Robert Colegrove, apparently refused to get out of a chair when Needham wanted him to and it drove him to ridiculous lengths; committing murder. After Colegrove wouldn’t get out of the chair, Needham exited the premises and on his way out was heard muttering over and over again “shouldn’t have done that.” Later in the day, he returned with a gun and camped out behind Colegrove’s backyard fence. According to Needham, Colegrove saw him behind the fence and was walking toward him with a knife saying “I’m going to kill you.” Needham fired his handgun and fatally shot Colegrove once in the heart. Needham, the former Madison High School wrestling coach, had his lawyers claiming it was self defense, but the jury didn’t quite buy it; they did, however, lower it to second degree murder verus first degree murder.

Sources:
“Wrestling Coach Convicted Of Second-Degree Murder” – San Diego 6, The CW