An In-Depth Guide to California Criminal Law

 

If you have been accused of violating California criminal laws, you need a skilled and experienced Van Nuys criminal defense attorney to fight aggressively for your freedom.

Our Experienced Van Nuys Criminal Attorneys Can Help

Violating California criminal laws can have significant consequences, including jail time, fines, and a criminal record. Facing criminal charges may leave you feeling frightened or uncertain about how your future might be impacted.

Here at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we will examine your case’s facts and devise a strategy to get you back on your feet. You don’t have to face charges of breaking CA criminal laws alone — we will handle your matter as if it were our own.

 

Understanding the California Criminal Code

How are California crimes defined? According to California Penal Code section 15, a crime is any act that violates the law. These are divided into the three following categories:

  • Infractions
  • Misdemeanors
  • Felonies

Infractions are less serious crimes, generally punishable by fines. Individuals charged with these offenses don’t have a right to court-appointed counsel or a right to a jury trial as a misdemeanor of felony defendants.

A crime that is more serious than an infraction but less serious than a felony is a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor can be punishable by jail time, but those convicted are taken to a city or county jail or detention facility. However, a misdemeanor can also be punishable by a fine and probation.

Felonies are the most severe California crimes. Those convicted may be sentenced to imprisonment in a county jail or a state prison. Some felony crimes have mandatory minimum sentences. That means defendants must spend some time in prison if convicted.

However, judges can punish a defendant more harshly if aggravating factors exist, just as they can give a lighter sentence if mitigating factors exist. For example, using a weapon while committing a crime can be an aggravating factor. On the other hand, committing a crime while trying to save someone’s life can be considered a mitigating factor.

Some crimes in California are referred to as ‘wobbler’ crimes. It means the crime can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on its circumstances.

When deciding how to treat a crime, a prosecutor also considers the defendant’s criminal history. Domestic violence, sexual battery, forgery, and assault with a deadly weapon are CA wobbler crimes.

Depending on the detail surrounding the incident and the history of the accused, you may face more substantial charges than someone charged with a first offense of breaking California criminal laws.

Our experienced Van Nuys criminal attorneys will help you understand the specific charges against you and develop a tailored defense strategy to give you the best outcome possible. We will work hard to reduce the charge and ensure you receive a fair trial under California criminal laws. Contact us today for more information.

California Code of Criminal Procedure

If you are arrested, a reputable attorney will advise you of the California Code of criminal procedure. In some cases, those charged with a crime must post a bond to be released from jail. But, when an individual is charged with committing a violent crime, they may not be released from prison.

The charges must be filed within 48 hours after the arrest by the prosecutor. At the arraignment, the person charged can hear the nature of the charges and pleads guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Being convicted of a criminal charge may result in harsh penalties, such as jail time, that have life-long consequences. Even after serving time, you may still face the collateral consequences of the conviction, such as difficulties finding a job, furthering your education, or securing adequate housing.

 

California Statute of Limitations

When it comes to California criminal procedures, there is also a statute of limitations. That is the time limit a prosecutor has to charge a defendant. If that doesn’t occur, the judge has to dismiss the criminal charge.

The statute of limitations usually starts when the crime was committed. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes, the statute of limitations begins when the district attorney learns of the crime. If the victim is younger than 18, the statute of limitations can also be temporarily stopped.

According to California criminal laws, some crimes have no statute of limitations. A charge for a crime for which a punishment includes life imprisonment or death can be filed at any time.

As a private citizen dealing with California criminal procedures. Even if you have nothing to hide and desire to cooperate, you should speak with your lawyer before talking to the authorities or making legal choices.

California Criminal Law section

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California Crime Codes

California penal code sections are divided into the following six parts:

  1. Codifies crimes against the state and crimes against public health and safety
  2. Codifies CA’s criminal procedure system
  3. Codifies statutes governing the corrections system and provides provisions governing the county jails, state prisons, and the death penalty
  4. Codifies statutes governing crime control, crime prevention, criminal investigations, gun control, and a police officer and prison officer training
  5. Authorizes the establishment and maintenance of the CA Peace Officers Memorial Foundation on the state Capitol grounds
  6. Codifies statutes dealing with weapon management

Your attorney will assess the facts of the criminal case to prepare an effective defense.

 

California Violation Codes

Using the California violation codes, I will work relentlessly to analyze your choices and ensure you comprehend every step of the process. As an attorney experienced in litigating CA criminal cases, I will seek an acquittal rather than quickly accepting any plea bargains the Prosecution offers.

 

California Penal Code Book

The California Penal Code Book is published and released annually to provide citizens and law firms with the most recent information.

 

California Classification of Crimes

Infractions are likely the most common of the three California classifications of crimes. These include less severe offenses like traffic and parking violations, usually settled with a small fine.

According to California law, standard misdemeanors are punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail. The most typical include:

A felony conviction brings a sentence of more than one year in prison and/or fined of approximately $10,000. In the most severe cases, they can result in a death sentence. These include:

  • Lewd acts with a child under 14
  • Homicide
  • Rape and sex crimes
  • Sale of a controlled substance
  • Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence
  • Robbery

You deserve to fight your criminal charges, and the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney team is at your service to work through every option, from reducing charges to defeating them altogether. Call us today for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys are here to give you the best legal advice and representation.

We look forward to defending your rights.

Clearing a Criminal Record

Although true expungement is not applicable in California, there may be options to clear one’s criminal record, depending on their criminal case. In other words, a criminal record will not be erased from public view. But, an expungement can alter a criminal record to “dismissed in the interests of justice.”

However, even if one’s criminal convictions are dismissed, that doesn’t mean the consequences are gone. These convictions, even though they can be expunged, may still affect one’s driving privileges or be used against them in the process of sentencing for some future crimes.

Expungement is also not available to everyone. In general, those convicted of misdemeanor offenses who are not currently on probation, charged, or serving a sentence for another criminal offense are eligible for expungement. Those convicted of a felony offense may qualify if they didn’t serve time in state prison. If they did, they might qualify if the same crime is now punishable by a county jail sentence due to a change in California laws.

In many cases, those convicted of a felony crime have to know that it is often up to the court whether or not it will grant their petition. Beyond that, some felony offenses, such as certain sex crimes against children, can never be expunged.

If you are facing criminal charges, it’s essential to understand the consequences and potential penalties that come with them. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you know the specifics of California criminal law and guide you through the best course of action.

It’s important to remember that you have rights, and there are legal measures you can take. Don’t hesitate to contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer for more information and advice.

Contact a Van Nuys, CA, Criminal Lawyer to Fight Your Charges

Some California criminal law firms may become jaded to the criminal justice system and treat you as just another number. We at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney take a fresh and optimistic approach to every new case.

Whether a felony or misdemeanor, we will thoroughly examine your case to put you in the best position possible.

Regardless of your circumstance, you are not alone in your fight. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, time is of the essence. Click here to schedule a free in-person consultation, and we will assist with finding a solution to whatever problem you may face.