Violent crimes are always an epidemic to society that changes the lives of both the victim and the defendant. California criminal law imposes harsh sentences for violent crime offenders. However, a high number of innocent individuals continue to get convicted for these offenses. If you or your loved one is arrested and charged for any violent crime, it will be wise to seek legal representation from the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm. Our team of competent attorneys will give you consultation and representation for your violent crime case. We serve clients charged in Orange County, to help you handle all aspects of the legal process and pursue the best possible outcome for your case.
Overview of Violent Crimes
A violent crime which is also known as a crime of violence occurs when the offender or perpetrator of the act uses force or threatens the victim. Violent crimes entail both intentional acts such as murder and rape, as well as crimes where the violence was not planned but ended up being a means to an end. A conviction for a violent crime will take place regardless of whether a weapon was used to commit a crime or not. The implications of a violent crime conviction are very severe; therefore, it is important to seek legal representation from a criminal defense attorney. The following are some of the most common violent crimes in California;
Penal Code 451-Arson
Under California Penal Code 451, it is a crime to set fire to a building land or other property both willfully and maliciously or recklessly, which is commonly known as reckless arson. You will get charged with willful arson if you act purposively by setting fire on a property with the intent to defraud, injure, or annoy someone else. On the other hand, reckless arson occurs in a situation where you were aware that your actions pose an unjustifiable risk of causing a fire and you deviated from how a reasonable person would act by ignoring the risk. Also, you can get charges for arson for setting fire to your property if:
- The property is a building or other real estate
- You set fire to your personal property to seek compensation from your insurer. In this case, you will get charged with arson as well as insurance fraud.
- The fire you set in your property causes injury to another person or damages other properties.
- Sentencing and the penalties for an arson charge vary greatly depending on:
- The nature and value of the property you burned
- Whether or not anyone was injured as a result of the fire, you started
- The nature of your charge. Penalties for reckless arson differ from those of intentional arson
- Your criminal history. You are likely to face higher penalties if you are a repeat offender.
If you get charged with arson, you may be required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to help determine the possible reasons for your actions. Willful arson is always charged as a felony, and the penalties will include;
- Sixteen months to three years in prison for burning personal property
- Two to four years for willful arson of forest land
- Five to ten years in prison for arson that causes substantial bodily injury to someone else
- Fines of up to$10,000
- Twice the amount of your actual anticipated gain. If you committed the crime intending to defraud.
On the other hand, basic reckless arson is a misdemeanor and the potential penalties up to six months in a county jail or a fine of up to $1,000.However, reckless arson can get charged as a felony if the property that burnt is forest land.
Penal Code 240 – Assault
Under California Penal Code 240 assault is an attempt to commit a violent injury to someone else and is charged as a misdemeanor. To be convicted of assault, the prosecutor has to prove;
- Your actions by their nature had the potential of resulting in the application of force on someone else. Application of force means any element of harmful or offensive touching ad the injury does not have to be direct.
- Your actions were willful
- When you acted, you were aware of a reasonable person’s point of view that the actual could lead to the application of force.
- You could apply force to the victim when you acted
- If you get convicted for assault in California, you are likely to face the following penalties:
- up to six months in a county jail
- A fine of up to $1000
- Since simple assault is a misdemeanor, you may face probation if your actions did not cause injury.
Penal Code 245(a) (1) – Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Assault with a deadly weapon involves assault that is committed with a deadly weapon or by an amount of force that is likely to produce great bodily injury. A deadly weapon in such an accident is any object or instrument which is used in a manner that is likely to produce great bodily injury or even death. This includes the apparent deadly objects such as guns and knives as well as other items that when used forcefully, can cause injury. Some examples are an unloaded gun used to hit someone, a pet that can attack other humans on command or a folk used to stab someone. However, arms and legs are not considered deadly weapons unless they cause serious injury to the victim.
Under California Penal Code 245(a) (1) assault with a deadly weapon is treated as a wobbler. This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case, the amount of injury sustained by the victim and the defendant’s criminal history. The factors a prosecutor considers before deciding your fate in an assault with a deadly weapon case are:
- The type of weapon or equipment that was used to commit the alleged crime
- Who the victim of the crime was. An assault on a protected person or a law enforcement officer is considered a severe offense
- The extent of the injury suffered by the victim of the alleged crime. Penalties might be more severe if assault with a deadly weapon resulted in death.
For a misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon the potential consequences after a conviction are;
- A misdemeanor probation
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Up to 1 year in a county jail
- On the other had felony penalties under California Penal Code 245(a)(1) include
- Felony probation
- Two to four years in a state prison
- $10,000 in fines
- up to six years of a jail sentence if the weapon used was an ordinary firearm
- up to ten years in state prison when the crime was carried out with a semiautomatic firearm
Penal Code – Grand Theft
Under California Penal Code 487, grand theft is unlawful possession of another person’s property, which is valued at $950.00 or more. A conviction for grand theft will have all sorts of professional and other repercussions. The elements of the offense in a grand theft case will depend on the type of grand theft charge you are facing.
- Grand theft by larceny- This occurs when you physically take away another person’s material possessions. The prosecutor must prove that you took something belonging to someone else without permission and kept it away from the owner. It is important to note that even a simple act of shoplifting can be charged as grand theft if the value of the item met the grand theft criteria.
- Grand theft by pretense – If you made a pretense of persuading another person to let you have their property, you would get charged for grand theft. The prosecutor must prove that the other person relied solely on your false information to give you their wealth.
- Grand theft by trick – it is considered a crime of grand theft by a trick if you used fraud or deceit to take possession of another personal property to take it away from the owner for a short time or permanently.
- Theft by embezzlement – you can get charged for grand theft if you commit a crime of fraud. Embezzlement occurs if someone entrusted you with their property, and you took the property and used it for your benefit without the owner’s knowledge.
Grand theft is a wobbler crime and can get charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the nature of your case. A misdemeanor grand theft charge carries up to one year in county jail. A felony on the other had carried up to three years in county jail. Under California Penal Code 1192.7, if you get charged with grand theft with the use of a weapon the potential sentence is up to three years in state prison. This is because the grand theft firearm is considered a serious felony.
Penal Code 187 –Murder
Under California Penal Code 187, murder is unlawfully killing another person or fetus with malice afterthought. Malice is implied when the natural consequences of your actions are likely to be dangerous to human life. Also, you must have acted deliberately ignoring the danger you were posing to another human being. There are different categories of murder, and the penalties differ for each.
- First-Degree Murder
There are three ways in which you can get convicted for murder in California. By using a destructive device or weapon to inflict torture and death to another person, killing in a deliberate way and by way of a felony. If you are convicted for first-degree murder, you will face a jail term not less than twenty-five years in state prison. However, if your conviction was based on hate crime, you risk facing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole
- Second-Degree Murder
Second-Degree murder is an act of killing another human being willfully but not premeditated. For example, if you shoot a gun in a crowd and end up killing someone. A second-degree murder conviction carries a minimum penalty of fifteen years in state prison. The following circumstances can potentially increase the severity of your penalties.
- A history of conviction for a murder charge .in this case, your sentence could increase from fifteen years to a life imprisonment
- Use of a firearm to commit a second-degree murder enhances the sentence to twenty years
- The sentence would increase to twenty-five to life imprisonment if the victim were a peace officer
- Capital Murder
Under California law, is first-degree murder with special circumstances. Factors that elevate the first-degree murder to a capital murder include:
- A crime committed for financial gain
- Murdering a firefighter, a police officer or other elected officials
- If the victim was a witness and the murder was committed to preventing them from testifying
- If there is more than one victim of the incident
- A crime committed as a result of racism and other forms of discrimination
- Murdering for a gang benefit Under California Penal Code 186.22
Capital murder is a serious charge and is punishable by a death penalty or life imprisonment without a possibility of parole. However, a hold was put regarding death sentence executions. A conviction for a murder charge can be life-changing. If you or your loved one is facing these charges, it would be wise to proceed with help from a criminal defense attorney.
Penal Code 211 – Robbery
As defined as California robbery law, Penal Code 211 robbery is taking away another personal property from someone through the use of fear or force on them. The following are the elements of theft:
- You took possession of something that did not belong to you
- You took away the property in the presence of the owner
- Fear and force was used to take away the property against the owner’s will
- When power was used, you intended to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner access
There are different classes or robbery, and the punishment is different for each category. The first-degree robbery occurs when the victim was a driver or passenger or occurs in an inhabited house. First-degree theft is punished as a felony; the potential sentence includes felony probation up to six years in prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000. A second-degree robbery is punishable with two to five years in state prison, probation and fines of up to ten thousand dollars. The penalties of theft will be determined by the number of victims who suffered from your actions. Multiple victims will equal robbery charges against you.
If robbery is committed using a firearm, a conviction will result in additional penalties with up to 20 years for personally and intentionally using a gun. Also, if the use of the gun led to significant bodily injury or death, the sentence could be enhanced to 25years to life imprisonment. Robbery is a strike offense, and a conviction for this crime will enter your criminal record, and subsequent offenses will get twice the penalties. Fortunately, there are a variety of defenses you can use to fight these charges.
Penal Code 215 – Carjacking
Carjacking is a criminal act of taking a vehicle from the possession of another person to deprive the owner of access and property. To be convicted of carjacking, the prosecutor must prove that force was used to carry out the act, and the vehicle was acquired against the will of the owner. Penal Code 215 is a felony that carries a sentence of up to ten years in state prison, probation and fines not exceeding $10,000.
If during the carjacking, a significant bodily injury was suffered by an occupant of the vehicle, you will get an additional six years in prison, consecutive to the initial sentence. If the prosecutor can show that you carjacked to benefit a street gags the law automatically imposes a further fifteen years in prison. Carjacking using a gun is considered to be a severe crime. A conviction will see you get an addition of 10 years for having a firearm, 20 years for firing and 25 years for causing serious bodily injury or causing death since carjacking is treated as an aggravated felony conviction may lead to deportation if you are a legal immigrant.
Penal Code 273.5 – Domestic Violence
Under California Penal Code 273.5, domestic violence is an infliction of injury on a spouse, former spouse, children, or other family members. Domestic violence is a wobbler and will be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, it carries a punishment of up to one year in county jail. If serious injury is inflicted on the victim, the crime will be charged as a felony that carries up to four years in state prison.
You could get charged with domestic violence if you acted in a manner that puts a child in danger. It could either be by willfully allowing the child to suffer physical or mental injury or placing the child in custody with the potential risk of harm.
Penal Code 207 – Kidnapping
Kidnapping takes place to use fear or force to move someone else. To be convicted of kidnapping, the prosecutor must prove that you moved the victim to a location that would cause them to harm or facilitate another crime such as rape. Also, it must be shown with no reasonable doubt that the victim did not consent and you took them against their own will.
Kidnapping is considered a violent crime since in most instances, force or fear is used to take away the victim. Sometimes the victim may be threatened into accepting to go. Violating California Penal Code 207 is considered a continual crime as long as you continue to retain the victim in your custody. If you get charged with simple kidnapping, your penalties will include Three to eight years in a state prison or a maximum fine of $10,000.
Aggravated kidnapping occurs when the victim is a minor below the age of 14 years. An individual convicted for aggravated kidnapping will face:
- Five to eleven years in state prison
- Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if the abduction was committed for a ransom, reward for committing extortion.
Penal Code 192 – Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter
Voluntary Manslaughter is killing another person which occurs during a quarrel, in the heat of passion or through genuine self-defense. This offense is a lesser charge to murder and often comes up when a defendant tries to explain their reasons for committing a murder.
Voluntary Manslaughter is a penalty in California which is punishable with:
- A potential strike on your criminal record is under California three strikes law.
- Fines not exceeding $10,000
- Losing your right to possess a firearm
- A significant amount of community service
- Counseling and compulsory anger management classes
You will get charged with Involuntary Manslaughter when you kill someone else while committing a crime that does not pose a danger to someone else. However, the intent to kill is not required in Involuntary Manslaughter. The penalty for Involuntary Manslaughter is four years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Besides the fines and jail sentence, a conviction for a violent crime will affect your professional and social life. This is because most violent crimes will be a strike on your criminal record. This information will show up during background checks and limit your chances of decent employment. Also, most people avoid associating with convicted felons; thus, a violent criminal record can affect your relationships. Therefore, it is essential to consult an attorney as soon as you are aware of the charges against you.
Find a Orange County Criminal Attorney Near Me
Battling a violent crime charge can be very difficult for you especially if you were falsely accused. Some of the reasons behind false accusations include untruthful witnesses, mistaken identity, overzealous prosecutors, shoddy police investigations as well as legitimate self-defense. If you have any questions about the violent crimes, or you would like to discuss the charges facing you or your loved one contact the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law firm. If you are in Orange County, you will need us in our corner. Call us today at 714-740-7848 and allow us to guide you through the case.