If you have been arrested on suspicion of committing a violent crime in California, there is no question that the consequences if you are convicted could be significant, devastating and life-changing in many ways. Cities, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in California vigorously go after individuals suspected of committing violent crimes to ensure that they are put behind bars so they are no longer threats to communities.
Violent crime cases can be high-profile cases that may become extensively covered by print and broadcast media. This ramps up the pressure on prosecutors to get a conviction. Media coverage often has an adverse effect on the reputation of the defendant. These are just some of the complex issues that may be involved in violent crime cases of which you should be aware.
If convicted of a violent crime, you may be looking at lengthy incarceration, restitution, probation and other consequences. The stakes are extremely high in these types of cases and that is why you need an experienced California violent crime defense lawyer who will fight for your rights every step of the way and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
What Constitutes a Violent Crime?
Violent crime charges stem from incidents where violent acts are involved. Here are some of the violent crime cases our California criminal defense lawyer might handle:
- Assault and battery
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Rape and sexual assault
- Murder and manslaughter
- Child abuse
Violent crimes are almost always charged as a felony, which is a more serious crime. The seriousness of the charges typically depends on the nature of the injuries sustained by the alleged victims. So, the more severe the injuries, the more serious the charges are likely to be. There are also other factors that might affect the severity of the charges including whether a firearm was used during the incident or whether the defendant had a prior history of violent crimes.
It is also important to remember that most violent crimes may be classified as a “strike” in California. The state’s Three Strikes Law requires a defendant who has been convicted of two prior felonies to serve a mandated state prison term of at least 25 years to life if convicted of a third felony or a “strike.” The 1994 law was amended in 2012 changing the requirements by stating that the third strike had to be a serious or violent felony to qualify for the 25 years to a life sentence.
Of all the violent crimes, murder or homicide is the most serious crime. Murder refers to the unlawful and intentional killing of another human being. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person without the intent to kill. Other violent crime charges such as assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, physical abuse causing great bodily injury, robbery, carjacking and sex crimes could all result in lengthy prison sentences.
What Can a Violent Crime Defense Lawyer Do for You?
If you have been arrested and charged with committing a violent crime, you need the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will be able to help you in the following ways:
Thorough investigation: Regardless of the nature of your charges, it is important that the facts of your case are thoroughly evaluated by a professional investigator. It is important to interview witnesses before the police or prosecutors have had an opportunity to speak to them and intimidate them. While the burden of proof in a criminal case is on the prosecution, when you have a thorough investigative process and when you have firmly established the facts of your case, the prosecution’s arguments are likely to appear weak. In order to obtain a conviction in your case, the prosecutor must be able to prove that the defendant is guilty “without a reasonable doubt.”
Presenting legal defenses: Your criminal defense lawyer will also be able to research potential legal defenses on your behalf. In any type of violent crime case, there are a number of possible legal defenses. For example, if the prosecution pins its armed robbery case on a grainy surveillance video where the perpetrator’s face is not clearly visible, then, your defense attorney may be able to argue that the evidence is not clear or sufficient to convict you.
Negotiating with prosecutors: Your criminal defense lawyer should also be a skilled negotiator who can speak with the prosecutor on your behalf. A knowledgeable attorney might be able to negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf. A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty or “no contest” in exchange for an agreement by the prosecutor to drop or reduce charges.
Access to experts and resources: A reputed defense lawyer will have access to skilled experts who can testify on your behalf during the trial. Sometimes, your attorney may be able to hire a psychiatrist to evaluate if the defendant is mentally competent to stand trial. For example, if the expert is able to show that the defendant acted violently because of a mental illness, that fact might help mitigate the violent conduct and help reduce the charges.
Alternative sentencing: This is an option that might be available to defendants, often first-time offenders. An experienced criminal defense lawyer might be able to retain the services of a psychologist to show why the crime may have been committed. Examples include addiction issues, family crisis, depression or an undiagnosed mental illness. Alternative sentencing might include drug court, participating in an alcohol or drug treatment program, anger management classes, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been charged with a violent crime, an experienced California violent crime defense attorney at the Law Office of Ashley Daniel can help you better understand your rights and options. You have the right to remain silent after your arrest. Be polite, but do not make any specific statements to the authorities without your lawyer present. What you tell the authorities can and will be used against you. Violent crime convictions could have significant consequences including spending the rest of your life in prison. Call us today to schedule your free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.