Violent Crime Lawyers in San Diego
Any person accused of a violent crime can expect a tough prosecutor and a jury whose judgment may be clouded by sympathy for the alleged victim. Unfortunately, these factors can stack up against a defendant, making it difficult to sort out the relevant facts and present an accurate scenario of what really happened. That is why it is crucial to arm yourself with a skilled San Diego criminal defense attorney. With more than 30 years of experience, Attorney James N. Dicks at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, is available to protect your rights and support you through each step. He is a former police officer and a board certified criminal law specialist who is committed to doing everything legally possible to get the results his clients deserve.
Our firm offers superb representation to protect your rights and present the best possible defense against strong opposition. With our experience and knowledge, we create a defense that is your best chance of avoiding a long prison sentence and the loss of freedoms.
Some of the most common violent crime charges include:
- Armed robbery: Penal Code 211 PC defines robbery as taking personal property from someone else with the use of force or fear. It is always a felony charge, and determined by the number of victims rather than the number of items taken. There is no explicit “armed robbery” charge in the books; rather, California’s 10-20 “use a gun and you’re done” law adds a sentence enhancement to the crime of robbery if a firearm was used: 10 years if you used a gun yourself, 20 years if you use a gun yourself and fire it during the robbery, and 25 years if you cause great bodily injury or death with the gun during the robbery.
- Assault & battery: Assault (Penal Code 240 PC) and battery (Penal Code 242 PC) are separate crimes that are often charged together. To commit simple assault, all you must do is make an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury upon another person. No contact needs to be made. Simple battery is the willful and unlawful use of force on someone else—i.e., contact was made. Both simply assault and battery are misdemeanors and each can include a fine up to $2,000 and up to six months in jail. If great bodily harm was caused to the alleged victim, the crime is a felony and the penalties are much more severe.
- Arson: Penal Code 451 PC defines two types of arson: “malicious” and “reckless.” To set fire to any building, forest land, or property (even your own) intentionally is considered arson or malicious arson. To set fire to any building, land, or property through reckless behavior is considered reckless arson. Reckless arson starts as a misdemeanor, but turns into a wobbler depending on what was burned and if anyone was injured. Willful and malicious arson is always a felony, and if convicted, you may serve anywhere from 16 months to 9 years in prison and pay a $10,000 fine, as well as a potential additional fine of $50,000 or more, depending on what was burned. This type of arson is considered a strike under California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law.
- Carjacking: Penal Code 215 PC defines carjacking as taking control of a vehicle from another person by use of force or fear, whether that person was a driver or passenger, the car’s owner or not. Carjacking is a felony crime and your prison sentence can be increased if you used a gun, injured a victim, kidnapped a victim, or the offense was gang-related. The initial charge has a prison sentence of up to 9 years and is considered a strike.
- Child abuse: Penal Code 273d makes it a felony crime to “willfully inflicts upon a child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic condition….” though this crime is sometimes charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties are up to 6 years in prison, a $6,000 fine, or both. Any prior conviction for the same crime will add 4 years to the prison sentence unless certain conditions are met.
- Gun & weapon crimes: If you use a gun during the commission of a felony offense, Penal Code 12022.53 PC adds a sentencing enhancement to whatever prison term you already face—to be served in addition to that sentence and consecutively. Known as “10-20 use a gun and you’re done,” you receive 10 more years if you “use” a firearm, 20 more years if you fire a firearm, and 25 more years if you shoot or kill anyone else during the crime.
- Hate crimes: California has multiple statutes defining hate crimes in Penal Code 422. You face increased penalties for harming, harassing, or threatening someone because of that person’s disability, gender, race, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation. If you assault someone or vandalize someone’s property based on the protected classes listed, it is a “hate crime” and you face enhanced sentencing.
- Murder / manslaughter: You commit voluntary manslaughter “in the heat of passion,” and murder with “malice aforethought” (Penal Code 187 PC). When you end another person’s life, whether through vehicular homicide or reckless behavior or an assault that got out of hand, the prosecutor will use your alleged state of mind to decide how to charge you. First-degree murder is punished by 25 years to life in prison; with special circumstances, it becomes a capital offense punishable by death.
- Kidnapping: Penal Codes 207-209 PC cover kidnapping, which involves moving someone a “substantial distance” with the aid of force or fear. A carjacking charge, for example, can easily receive a kidnapping charge as well if you did not realize a child was in the backseat and drove away. Penalties for kidnapping range from 5 years to life in prison, depending on the circumstances.
- Terrorism: You can be charged with making criminal threats under Penal Code 422 PC (formerly known as “terrorist threats”). Whether or not you carry out the threat, you face 1 year in jail for a misdemeanor conviction and 4 years in state prison for a felony conviction. Acts of terrorism, such as the intent of causing widespread great bodily injury or death by causing a fire or explosion or the release of a chemical, biological, or radioactive agent (Penal Code 11415-11419) is a serious crime. If convicted, you face up to 12 years in prison, a $100,000 fine, and additional penalties.
As with any violent offense, a criminal defense lawyer must review the facts of your case and ascertain evidence to help you form a strong defense. There are situations in which an innocent person faces a criminal accusation and is wrongly charged, cases of mistaken identity. Sadly, there are innocent people that are railroaded and serve time for crimes they did not commit.
There are also cases in which a person is accused of a violent crime when the action was taken in self-defense. Your San Diego criminal defense lawyer should know how to dig for the facts and expose the weaknesses and flaws in the prosecutor's case. Violent crimes almost all have severe penalties upon conviction, with very lengthy prison sentences.
Our legal team, headed by Attorney James N. Dicks, is a zealous advocate for the criminally accused in violent crime cases from Vista to North County. We are aggressive in our defense strategies while adhering to our high ethical standards. We know how crucial it is for you to have confidence in your defense team, and we do everything possible to fight to help you avoid conviction and jail or prison time. When you contact our firm at (760) 630-2000, we can discuss all the aspects of your case and advise you of your best options.
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