One of the most tragic types of fatal automobile accidents occurs when no ill will is involved, no road rage, no deliberate drinking and driving, and no reckless speeding. One example of this type of tragedy is when one drives while unaware of the potentially dangerous side effects of a prescription drug. The side effect can be from either taking the drug or from failing to take the drug as directed. Specifically, some drugs can cause drowsiness, audio-visual distortions, or even seizures. The same is true for failure to consistently take a medication that is intended to protect against drowsiness, audio-visual distortions, or seizures.  

When one of these side effects occurs while a driver is on the road, terrible tragedies can ensue.  The law does not withhold liability if you were unaware of the dangers of driving coupled with the potential side effects of a medication. As such, if you have been involved in a fatal car accident in which you experienced with side effects of a medication or its absence, you may still be convicted in spite of your lack of awareness. Vehicular manslaughter is one criminal charge applicable to the type of tragedy in question. If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter in the state of California, you need a skilled and experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney. With a conviction bringing serious penalties including fines and jail time, so you need a skilled attorney to fight to protect your legal rights.

Vehicular Manslaughter is Typically a Crime of Negligence

In addition to Assault and battery, theft, driving, drug, and sex crimes, fraud is among the most common criminal charges in the state of California. If you have been charges with any of these common yet very serious crimes, you need a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney to fight to protect your legal rights and mount the strongest possible defense against the state’s aggressive efforts to convict you. Besides the damage to your reputation, which has serious ramifications on educational, vocational, and professional aspirations, conviction may result in jail time, fines, fees, community service, probation, loss or restriction of driving privileges, and more.

Types of Fraud

California is tough on fraud of all kinds. Fraud charges point directly to one’s honesty or lack thereof, usually in regards to finances, whether those of an individual, business, or the state itself. One of the oldest types of fraud – check fraud – is the manufacture, possession, or attempted manufacture or use of a check with the intent to defraud the party being paid. The illicit intent in check fraud is revealed by a representation that the bad check is actually genuine.  If you have seen the film Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, then you know something about check fraud. While check fraud is on the wane in the debit card / smart phone / Internet era, it does still occur, and is still punished harshly by the state.  

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 are convicted of auto burglary in the state of California, you could be sentenced to up to three years in jail. With such serious consequences looming, you need an experienced California criminal defense attorney to protect your legal rights. To convict you, the state’s prosecutor must prove every element of the crime of auto theft beyond on a reasonable doubt. This is a significant challenge because auto theft is what is known as a “specific intent” crime. The purpose of this article is to explain the crime auto theft, the doctrine of specific intent, and the legal defenses potentially available to those charged with auto burglary. If you have been charged with auto burglary, contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney to mount the strongest possible legal defense against the state’s efforts to deprive you of your freedom.

Auto Burglary is a Specific Intent Crime

Every crime has a specific legal definition. For example, the common law crime of battery is a harmful or offensive touching of another person without consent. When you are charged with a crime, you become a defendant and the state, as plaintiff, must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  The words “beyond a reasonable” doubt represent the burden of proof – a burden that the state is responsible for meeting. The words comprising the definition of the crime can be separated out into elements, all of which the state must prove. So, in the battery example, the state must prove that you touched another person, that the touching was either harmful or offensive, and that the person did not consent to the touching.  

Indecent exposure is a crime that is both serious and embarrassing in nature. The crime is defined as willfully exposing your genitals to another person with a desire to either sexually gratify yourself or offend the other individual. You might think that such an act, especially in today’s society, might result in a mere legal slap on the wrist. Well, think again. If you are convicted of indecent exposure in California, you are looking at fines, potential jail time, and guaranteed compulsory registration as a sex offender.

Got your attention now? Any conviction of indecent exposure in the state will require that you register as a California sex offender. As you can see, an indecent exposure charge is no laughing matter. The penalties for conviction are severe, especially as concerns your reputation in the community. Just think of the ramifications of a conviction on your career, education, family, and ability to peacefully coexist in your community. For your freedom and your reputation, you need an experienced California criminal defense attorney to protect your legal rights and mount the strongest possible defense against the state prosecutor’s efforts to convict you.

Indecent Exposure is a Crime of Willfulness

Assault is one of the oldest crimes in the book. Often, as is evidenced by film and television, it is linked to the crime of battery. While it is true that is it possible to be charged with “assault and battery,” it is possible to be charged with one crime, but not the other. One thing is true with regard to conviction for either crime in the state of California – you will face serious consequences. As such, you need to rely on the skill of an experienced California criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney will fight to protect your legal rights, invoke any legitimate defenses (e.g. self-defense), and explore all avenues of reasonable doubt in challenging the state prosecutor’s efforts to convict you.

Distinguishing Assault from Battery

Sometimes the difference between assault and battery is simply the difference between a swing and a miss and a swing and a hit. In other words, the outcome of the swing matters. The swing is the attempt, and it is the crucial element of assault. Under California Penal Code 240, assault is an attempt to use force or violence on another person. So, even if you attempt to throw a punch or a swing baseball bat at another person and fail to make contact with them, you may be properly charged with assault for merely making the attempt to use force or violence on them.  

Arson is punished harshly in California. One reason for this is because arson is capable of creating state-declared emergencies. This is especially the case in a span of drought-ridden years when even a small spark can spiral into out-of-control blazes, endangering both the state’s natural resources and the lives of firefighters who bear the responsibility of combating wildfires. If you have been charged with arson in the state of California, you need a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your legal rights and mount the strongest possible defense against the state’s efforts to convict you. The purpose of this article is to explain the crime of arson and punishments for conviction.

There are Two Arson Laws in the State of California

In California, there are two laws against arson. The reason for this is the belief that different mental states contributing to the commission of a crime deserve different levels of punishment. Sometimes, when a crime is committed, a person specifically intends to commit the crime. Other times, however, a crime is committed as the result of recklessness or carelessness.

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.

Conviction for elder abuse in the state of California comes with serious penalties, including fines, jail time, and reputation damage. If you have been charged with an elder abuse crime, you need an experienced California criminal defense attorney to protect your legal rights and mount the strongest defense possible. The purpose of this article is to explain elder abuse charges, and the penalties for conviction.

Elder Abuse May Be Prosecuted as a Misdemeanor or a Felony

California is a large and fast-growing state, and with that comes a large population of senior citizens. With this large number and expanding percentages of seniors in the California population, there are thousands of retirement communities, nursing homes, and other care facilities. It is at these facilities, where elder abuse sometimes occurs. Family members and caregivers are the individuals most commonly charged with elder abuse, and the crime is reported to personally impact over 14% of America’s seniors. The word “elder” itself refers to seniors – specifically, anyone who is sixty-five (65) years or older. The word “abuse” has a wider meaning, and includes more than physical abuse or acts of violence. Under California law, elder abuse may also take the form of emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and endangerment, and financial abuse – all heinous crimes. Whether elder abuse is prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor depends on a number of factors, including the defendant’s criminal history and the nature of alleged abuse.

With much of the world’s financial activity transitioned from paper-based to online systems, cyber crimes like fraud often occur in the elder abuse context. California already punishes cyber crime and elder abuse harshly when independent from one another. When the two crimes combine into one enterprise, the penalties for conviction can be especially severe. If you have been charged with the internet-based financial exploitation of a California senior citizen, it is imperative that you contact a skilled California criminal defense attorney. With the state working to convict you, you need to mount the strongest legal defense possible.

Financial Abuse is a Type of Elder Abuse

Elders are a vulnerable and venerated part of our society. Having made it to the age of 65, these senior citizens command respect as they enjoy their golden years. When the happy times of this respected class of citizens are disturbed by criminal conduct, the law takes action. Elder abuse takes on several forms: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, endangerment, and, most relevant to our discussion here, financial abuse. Not every form of elder financial abuse is computer-based. Some forms include ordinary theft, such as taking money or property.  The same is true for the forging of an elder’s signature, or using force or duress to get an elder to sign a will, deed, or power of attorney. However, as more computer-literate generations reach the age of 65, more and more internet-based financial elder abuse occurs, whether through the inducement of elders into financial scams online, or illicitly obtaining an elder’s personal financial information to use for fraudulent online purchases. In other words, personal computers are becoming more and more prevalent in retirement communities every year as an effect of increased computer and online literacy. When internet fraud is perpetrated against an elder, the law is justified in dispensing enhanced punishments – penalties for both the act of fraud, and the perpetration of the act against an elder.