If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, it’s time to hire a criminal defense lawyer to ensure you the best possible outcome.
Do I need a criminal lawyer?
A criminal lawyer specializes in the defense of individuals and companies charged with criminal activity. This type of attorney will also specialize in matters that may be beneficial to you and the case, so it’s important to take the time to find the right one for your needs.
To help you get started, we’re taking a closer look at the following:
- What a criminal lawyer does
- When to hire a criminal lawyer (10 examples of criminal charges)
- What to expect working with a criminal defense lawyer
Let’s get started …
What Does a Criminal Lawyer Do?
A criminal defense lawyer will represent you when you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
What’s a misdemeanor?
While a misdemeanor is not considered as serious as a felony, it can still result in imprisonment and/or a fine.
What’s a felony?
A felony is considered a serious crime.
If found guilty of a felony, you may face imprisonment for more than a year. The penalty for felonies varies depending on the crime committed.
A criminal lawyer will evaluate the charges and protect your interests with the strongest legal defense possible.
When to Hire A Criminal Lawyer (10 examples of criminal charges)
A criminal charge is a formal accusation asserting that you have committed a crime.
A crime may be considered a misdemeanor or felony, it’s time to hire a criminal lawyer to help you form your defense.
Take a look at the list of 10 criminal charges below for a better understanding.
1. Assault and Battery
Assault is an action (an intentional act) that causes fear of imminent harmful or offensive touching. The act must be intentional, and so accidental actions would not be considered a crime.
Battery is an intentional physical act where the victim has not given permission or consent to the act. The act must be considered offensive to a reasonable person.
These offenses against the person result in physical or mental harm. Some of the other crimes in this category include kidnapping, false imprisonment, rape, and homicide.
Crimes against the person include a group of homicide crimes resulting in the death of another and examples are first or second-degree murder, manslaughter, and vehicular homicide. Other examples are deaths from Shaken Baby Syndrome, Assisted Suicide, and Serial Killing.
First-degree murder is intentional and malicious, premeditated and deliberate killing of another. A killing that occurs during a violent or dangerous felony would be considered first-degree murder.
Second-degree murder is the killing of another but without deliberation of premeditation. Accidental killings fall into this category.
3. Kidnapping and False Imprisonment
Although they seem similar, under California law, kidnapping and false imprisonment are treated as separate crimes.
Kidnapping refers to the taking away, or movement of another person against their will by force or any other means of instilling fear in the victim.
In California, kidnapping is a felony, and the punishment for a conviction of kidnapping can be anywhere from three to eight years in prison.
False imprisonment, on the other hand, is the intentionally detaining or confining of someone against his or her will. It can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of each case. It is a felony if force, threats or intimidation were used.
4. Rape and Sexual Assault
California law includes sexual assault or sexual battery laws that prohibit unwanted touching of another person’s intimate parts. When sexual assault leads to non-consensual intercourse with the victim, the crime becomes rape.
Sexual battery requires proof that the victim was somehow restrained while being touched, that the touching was against the victim’s will, and the intention of the touching was for the purpose of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse.
New California state laws are removing the statutes of limitations for certain sexual assault crimes and expanding the definition of sexual assault.
California Penal Code 211 PC defines the crime of robbery as the taking of personal property from someone else against his or her will, through the use of fear or force. In California, robbery is always a felony.
Felony robbery occurs in the classic bank or store robbery where perpetrators carry weapons and wear masks. But it also occurs where they break into homes when residents are inside and threaten them before stealing some of their personal property.
The crime also occurs when the victim is drugged and personal property is stolen while he or she is unconscious.And it is a crime if, when the criminal is caught in the act of stealing, the owner of the property is threatened with physical harm in order to escape.
Robberies in California can be first-degree or second-degree felonies. First-degree refers to robberies committed against a driver or passenger on a bus, taxi, subway, streetcar, etc. It is also first-degree when taken place in an inhabited structure. And it is first-degree when the robbery is to a person who has just used an ATM and is still in the vicinity of the ATM.
Arson is an act committed willfully and maliciously, where a fire is set or burned or caused to be burned that damages any structure, forest land or property.
Arson is considered aggravated when the defendant acts with specific intent to cause injury or property damage, and the person has either a previous arson conviction in the last 10 years or causes damage and losses exceeding $6,500,000.
A person is guilty of solicitation if he or she asks another person to commit a crime covered under California’s criminal solicitation laws, and the solicitor intends a crime to be committed, and the other person actually receives the communication with the request to commit the crime.
California law states that a criminal conspiracy happens when one person agrees with one or more other persons to commit a crime, and one of them commits an overt in furtherance of that agreement to commit the crime.
For example, two people agree to set fire to a home, and one of them buys matches. Or a gang decides to burglarize a home, and someone calls to see if anyone is home.
In California, forgery is basically creating a new, false document for personal benefit or gain. The typical view of forgery is faking someone else’s signature or handwriting. But there are other situations that apply as well.
Forgery occurs when someone knowingly and with intent to commit fraud does one of the following: sign someone else’s name, fake someone’s handwriting or seal, change or falsify a legal document, or fake, alter or present as genuine a false document related to finances, property, or money.
In California, forgery is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be treated as either a misdemeanor or felony with appropriate penalties assigned.
10. Drug Crimes
Federal laws tend to focus on the movement of drugs across state lines, like drug trafficking. State laws concentrate more on the means and methods of the manufacture and distribution of drugs within each state itself.
Another difference is the trend by various states to legalize marijuana, especially for medical use.
The federal government has not yet followed suit in this regard.
What to Expect When Working with a Criminal Lawyer?
A criminal lawyer will do everything possible to prove your innocence.
If your attorney isn’t able to do this, he or she will attempt to lower your sentence as much as possible. This may include advising you to settle outside of court, which usually results in a lighter sentence depending on the charges.
If you are charged with a felony, your lawyer will attempt to shorten the sentence and negotiate the best possible facility to serve your sentence.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, your lawyer will advocate for fines or community service over jail time.
Overall, your criminal lawyer will understand the way the court system works and help you navigate the legal process. Working with an experienced criminal lawyer will greatly increase the chance of proving your innocents or at least reducing your sentence.
Where to Find A Criminal Lawyer?
It’s never too early to start your search, as it may take time finding the right one for your case.
The SFVBA Attorney Referral Service may be able to help connect you with one in your area. Call 818-340-4529 and we’ll help you receive up to 30 minutes of free consultation with a criminal defense attorney near you.