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Vehicular Manslaughter: If you're involved in a car accident that results in a death you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter whether or not you're accused of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It can be a misdemeanor which involves you committing an infraction like running red light or sometimes mere negligence can be enough to get charged with a Penal Code Section 192(c)(2). Or it could be you're accused of being under the influence and someone is killed in the auto accident, a violation of 191.5(a). The consequences of either one are serious and could result in a long period of jail time.
Domestic Violence: Family disputes that result in the police being called almost always result in someone going to jail. It used to be the police would try to mediate the situation or remove one party from the environment until the situation calmed down. That has changed and many times one party will regret involving the police but it becomes too late when 911 is called and the police arrive since they don't do anything other than try to investigate if a possible crime has occurred and make an arrest. Penal Code section 273.5 is the most common charge but there are many defenses available to someone accused of this when every situation is so different and every family dynamic is always changing.
White Collar Crimes: Sometimes crimes involving theft by employees of companies or organizations from the CEO to the soccer treasurer are called "white collar" crimes. Anything that involves a violation of Penal Code 487 (the theft statute) can be called a white collar crime. Most commonly white collar crimes involve large thefts either by embezzlement or by fraud. A common example of a case I have handled like this is the executive of the company (CFO) who was accused of using company funds for his personal use like a salt water fish tank for his house, new cars, and extravagant trips abroad using money from the company.
Sex Crimes: Anytime sex is involved in a case it takes on special significance. Many sex crimes require sex registration upon conviction per Penal Code Section 290. Sex cases can range from rape, pimping and pandering, to indecent exposure. Just because the allegations involve sex it doesn't mean it is a mandatory sex registration. Obvious cases such as child molestation come with the requirement but misdemeanor child annoyance (Penal Code Section 647a) does not. If the charge is one involving sexual misconduct the prosecutor's office will assign it to a specific unit within the District Attorney's Office so the profile of the case is always raised, as are the potential consequences.
Internet Sex Crimes: Penal Code Section 311.11 is possession of child pornography. This is a very common charge that can result in uncommon pain to the accused. Mandatory sex registration, Penal Code section 290, is required. Oftentimes it results in publicity and loss of employment. Even if jail or prison isn't imposed internet restrictions can be ordered so that the offender is unable to complete school work or maintain employment. Child pornography is the intentional receipt and viewing of lewd images of children in sexually explicit positions. It can be prosecuted in Federal Court or State Court.
Juvenile Crime: Juvenile crime is any crime committed by a person who is under 18. The date of the crime and the age of the accused are what control. If someone commits a crime under the age of 18 but isn't accused until they are over 18, even years older, it is still controlled by the Juvenile Court. Some crimes can be tried as an adult but they are few and can be found in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 707. Juvenile law is so specialized that it requires lawyers who practice in Juvenile Court to be acknowledged as experts in Juvenile Law.
DUI: Being charged with a DUI (California Vehicle Code Section 23152) has consequences for a driver's license as well as criminal consequences in court. The DMV will try to suspend the license even before the accused gets to court. In order to stop the license suspension happening 30 days from the arrest, the driver has to demand a DMV hearing. The court case may not happen for months. For two or more DUI's jail time is a big risk and long term loss of license may occur.
Repeat DUI Crimes: Being arrested for DUI more than once has severe consequences to your license and to your personal liberty. You must go to jail if convicted (although I've been very successful in getting alternative sentences) and even if not convicted it can lead to a long term loss of your driver's license. A second DUI in 10 years requires the DMV to suspend the driver's license for one year. A third DUI in 10 years results in a 3 year revocation of the driver's license. Jail time is at least 4 days and can be up to a year. Felonies can result if you have had a felony DUI before or 4 or more DUI convictions in the last 10 years.
Veterans Court: If you've served our country and received either an Honorable Discharge or General Discharge you may be able have your case handled in Veteran's Court. No longer is it required that you be a combat veteran. Simply having your service being a cause of the crime being charged is enough. For example, a serviceman who suffered a traumatic episode while in a non-combat environment can have his case diverted into Veteran's Court where mental health, VA, and Probation officials assist in identifying the veteran's issues and try to resolve them. Simultaneously the veteran can earn a dismissal.
Theft: All kinds of unlawful taking come under this umbrella category. Petty theft, Penal Code 484-488, is commonly cited for shoplifting or theft of small items or amounts. Recently I had a young client accused of stealing a bottle of whiskey from a liquor store. He was charged with theft or shoplifting and even though the amount of the taking was small it resulted in a criminal case being filed in court. These cases are important because while small, no one wants a crime of moral turpitude or dishonesty on their record.
Assault: Assault is any type of attempted unlawful touching. A swing and a miss is an assault. It can also be more serious such as using a weapon against someone. Assault with a deadly weapon can be something that isn't normally thought of as a weapon such as a car. Or an assault with force likely to commit great bodily harm happens where it can be shown there was an attempt to commit great bodily harm but no harm actually occurred. The term assault can cover many variations of an alleged attack from the use of a key to try to tear at someone's face (a recent case) to trying to shoot someone. It's one of the most basic of crimes but one that has infinite variables.
Homicide: The killing of another human being is homicide. It can be justified and therefore legal. Self-defense or defense of others can make the killing legal but it still qualifies as a homicide. If it's the intentional and unjustified killing of another human it can be murder or Penal Code 187. There are crimes that come under the heading of homicide that aren't murder, such as voluntary manslaughter (PC 192(a)) or involuntary manslaughter (Penal Code 192(b)). These are serious but are lesser crimes than murder. Each has it's own very complex laws and rules governing their interpretation.
Kidnapping: Kidnapping is the movement of someone against their will by force or fear to a place that increases the danger to that person. The classic case is the one seen on television, where someone is forced at gunpoint into a car and driven off. But, a kidnapping can occur within the walls of a business as well. If a robbery occurs and employees of the store are forced into a confined space such as the freezer compartment of the store, away from sight where they could be assaulted, it can become a kidnapping as well as a robbery. Kidnapping (Penal Code 207-209) can carry up to a life sentence depending on the circumstances.
Prescription Drug Crimes: The opioid crisis has caused the number of fraudulent prescription drug cases to spike. People who are desperate for the controlled substances make people who would never think of committing a crime steal drug pads or forge the prescription issued by their doctors. Many pharmacies are only taking orders directly from the doctors to prevent this type of crime from occurring.
Drug crimes: California has radically changed it's drug laws so that many possession of controlled substances that used to be felonies are now misdemeanors. Many times drug charges can be dismissed or diversion can occur so that the accused doesn't end up with a criminal record. Rehabilitation has become more important than punishment and the courts are recognizing that with more alternative sentences. Possession for sale continues to be a felony and often it's handled more harshly than ever before due to the lack of an ability to reduce the charge to another charge that would still be acceptable to the prosecutor.
Gang Crimes: If one is a member of a group of three or more people who have a primary purpose to commit specified crimes it can equal a crime. Active participation in a gang (PC 182.22) is a crime. Surprisingly, simply being a member and not committing to the purposes of the criminal activities of the gang is not a crime. Usually, there isn't any question that the group is a gang and there isn't any question that the accused is a member of the gang. The question that is commonly at issue is whether the person actively participated in the particular crime charged. If not, even though the accused is a gang member he or she may not have committed a crime at all.
Vandalism: Destroying or damaging someone else's property is basically the definition of vandalism. It has to be done with a malicious or evil intent. If property is damaged or destroyed by accident that isn't a crime at all. Penal Code 594 sets out how vandalism is defined under the law. But, tagging for gang purposes or art is a prime example of a violation of PC 594. It can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the item(s) harmed.
Probation Violations: Conditional releases into the community is what happens when someone is put on probation. The judge is saying, "I could put you in jail right now, but I'm not. I'm putting you on probation with certain conditions." Anytime someone pleads guilty there are possible maximum punishments for the crimes they plead guilty to. But, almost no one gets the maximum sentence. When less than the maximum is given the person may be put on probation and released back into the community. Probation violations occur when the defendant promises to do what the judge ordered but it doesn't happen. Then the judge can give the person in violation of probation anything from another chance to the maximum sentence.
Arson: The burning of a structure or fields or the property of another can lead to an arson charge. Where fire is used to destroy or damage someone else's property it's commonly referred to as arson. Forest fires can be arson caused. Fires in homes or stores can lead to arson charges if the setting of the fire was intentional and meant to destroy the property. Accidentally starting a fire is not normally an arson case. Leaving a campfire without adequately extinguishing it will normally not result in an arson conviction even if it destroys thousands of acres and structures.
Elder Abuse: Senior citizens may be unable to care for their own finances or their own safety. Even when nothing malicious is going on things such as bed sores can lead to an investigation by health care officials who refer their investigation to law enforcement. Then areas such as failing to adequately care for the elderly can lead to charges of elder abuse. Or failure to clearly and accurately account for monies controlled by relatives or care takers can lead to elder abuse of a financial nature. Spending the senior's money without consent or depleting resources can lead to criminal charges against even well meaning relatives or care takers.
Expungements: When someone gets arrested and charged with a crime and they have been cleared of wrongdoing or have been convicted and the case is over, people want to clear their records. This is where expungements of crimes come into play. California has two statutes on this point. First of all, if you are put on probation and successfully complete it you can petition under PC 1203.4 to withdraw your guilty plea or finding and enter a not guilty plea and have the case dismissed. Not all crimes have this as an option but many do and it can be very effective. As of January 2018, PC 851.91 provides more relief and a sealing of arrest records when a case is rejected by the prosecutor or an acquittal is given after trial. If someone completes a diversion program arrest records can be sealed upon successful completion.
Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. We represent clients in Orange County and throughout Southern California.