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 Van Nuys Criminal Law Attorneys Can Help

Violating California Criminal Law can result in significant consequences, consisting of 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 all the facts of your case and come up with 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 who are convicted are taken to a city or county jail or a detention facility. However, a misdemeanor can also be punishable by a fine and probation.

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

However, judges can punish a defendant more harshly if aggravating factors exist, just as he or she can give a lighter sentence if there are mitigating factors. 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 the circumstances surrounding the crime.

When deciding how to treat a crime, a prosecutor also takes into consideration the defendant’s criminal history. Domestic violence, sexual battery, forgery, as well as assault with a deadly weapon are just some examples of 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.

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 have to post a bond to be released from jail. But, when an individual is charged with committing a violent crime, he or she may not be released from jail.

The charges have to 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.

In most cases, the statute of limitations starts when the crime was committed. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes, the statute of limitations starts at the time 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 law, there is no statute of limitations for some crimes. 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, you have the right to an attorney. Even if you have nothing to hide and desire to cooperate, you should speak with your lawyer before talking to the authorities or making any legal choices.


California Criminal Law section

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California Crime Codes

Penal California crime codes 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 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 case to prepare an effective criminal defense.


California Violation Codes

Using the California violation codes, I will work relentlessly to analyze all of your choices and make sure you comprehend every step of the process. As an attorney experienced in litigating CA criminal law 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 each year to provide citizens and law firms with the most recent California criminal law information.


California Classification of Crimes

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

According to California criminal 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 approximately $10,000. In the most severe cases, they can result in a sentence of death. These include:

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

You deserve to fight your criminal charges, and the team at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney is at your service to work through every option, from reducing charges to defeating them altogether.


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 cases. 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 offense 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.

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.