When people talk about violent crimes they are usually talking about it with a negative connotation. Prosecutors and judges alike do not like violent felonies or misdemeanors and they will punish people in kind who commit these types of offenses. So, then you start to ask yourself, okay, so what is considered a violent crime? For purposes of the Three Strikes Law in California, there is a whole list of violent crimes. Examples would obviously be anything involving a person getting injured or some sort of force – whether it be physical or threats of force. For example, a robbery is a violent felony. Car-jacking and mayhem is a violent felony. They even consider a burglary with somebody present as a violent felony. The prosecutors have tortured some of these felonies into violent felonies for purposes of the Three Strikes Law to really start hammering and sentencing these people who commit these types of crimes.
What Are Some Strategies That Can Be Used To Defend Somebody In A Violent Crime Case In LA?
First, one of the biggest things that cause problems with violent felonies relates to people actually being harmed or injured in some way or threatened or seriously frightened. Anything you can do as a defense attorney to show that the person wasn't harmed or wasn't frightened – even might have provoked whatever happened – these are things that can counter-act some of the damages that violent felonies bring.
Another thing you can do, obviously, if you have a defense to the crime that would be something the prosecutors would consider when it comes to a violent felony in Los Angeles. So, if you can say yes, I did use violence, but I had to defend myself – you have a self-defense claim. Or, maybe you had to protect another person, or maybe the person threatened you and because they threatened you, you thought they were going to do something, so you preemptively acted to defend yourself. So, this type of a situation where you're talking about a defense to a violent felony or misdemeanor has to do with the facts of the case, the totality of the circumstances and what's really going on, and of course, it has to do with reasonableness. What is reasonable under the circumstances? When can you use violent or deadly force in order to defend yourself or act in your own best interest?
Are Violent Cases Always Charged As Felonies Or Can They Be Charged As Misdemeanors As Well?
There's both violent misdemeanors and felonies in Los Angeles, and in fact, a lot of crimes are wobblers – meaning they can be filed as felonies or misdemeanors. For example, assault with a deadly weapon is a violent felony and can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a felony, it is a strike. As a misdemeanor, it's not. As a misdemeanor, you're only looking at up to a year in the county jail for punishment, whereas, as a felony, you could be looking at up to 6 years in prison.
When it comes to violent crimes, the misdemeanor/felony distinction is very important and some of the factors that kind of drives prosecutors on this misdemeanor/felony consideration is a person's criminal record, whether they actually did violence to another person, whether they injured another person, whether they are a danger to the community. There's a whole host of factors that the prosecutors look at. As a good defense attorney, we have to come up with defenses and strategies to combat some of these harsh consequences that can flow from a violent felony in one of the Los Angeles courthouses.
What Are Some Penalties Related To A Violent Felony Or Misdemeanor Conviction In LA County?
One is, if you get convicted of a violent felony and it's a strike, then you'll have a strike on your record for the rest of your life. You won't be able to mitigate it down to a misdemeanor. You won't be able to expunge it and anytime anybody runs your criminal record they are going to see it. If, in the future, you pick up a new felony case, it can be charged as a second-strike case and you could be looking at double the sentence you normally would for the new offense.
Other punishments – depending again on what the crime is – they can put you on probation and there can be probation terms. They can send you to prison. Depending on how serious the crime is, that's going to dictate how long the prison sentence is.
Of course, having a good defense attorney by your side is going to make it much more likely that you're going to get a result that you can live with and kind of get the bare minimum when it comes to some of these felony violent convictions. Also, a lot of these cases – despite having very serious penalties – if the right resolution is worked out – if you can lead a law-abiding life moving forward and not have any other issues, then you can put yourself in the position to get your case reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed off your record after a certain period of time.
So, there are things that can be done. I get you in the office. We sit down and go over everything under the cloak of the attorney-client privilege, and then we set up our plan on exactly how we're going to deal with your violent felony or misdemeanor and get you out of the criminal justice system as soon as possible.