Violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter, assault, and battery are severe violations of California law. People can be charged with a violent crime as a misdemeanor (punishable by up to a year in a county jail or a substantial fine) or a felony (punishable by a longer imprisonment or a larger fine). Some people convicted of a felony violent crime can receive life in prison, or even the death penalty.
Here is a brief overview of California’s violent crime laws:
- Attempted murder – A deliberate and direct attempt toward killing another person that proves unsuccessful. Behaving recklessly with the intent to kill is a major element of an attempted murder charge.
- Murder and manslaughter – Includes first- and second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and misdemeanor manslaughter. For first-degree murder, authorities must prove that a person’s death was premeditated and intentional. California also has a “felony murder rule,” meaning you can be charged with murder if someone dies while you’re committing a crime (even if that person is an accomplice).
- Assault and battery – Includes assault with a deadly weapon, attempted assault, battery (any form of physical contact), battery on a peace officer (police, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, process servers, and other such personnel), discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle, mayhem and aggravated mayhem (causing a disfiguring or disabling injury).
- Kidnapping – Taking a person against his or her will under the threat of harm. Does not require that the offender had a weapon or held someone for ransom.
- Robbery – Includes first-degree robbery (such as home invasion and carjacking) and second-degree robbery (such as strong-arm robbery or mugging).
- Burglary – Entering a property with intent to commit an offense.
- Rape – Sexual penetration without consent, including date rape, spousal rape and statutory rape. California law states that any person under 18 cannot consent to sexual activity.
- Arson – Intentionally, recklessly, or maliciously setting fire to property, land, or structure. Includes assisting another in committing arson.
- Criminal threats – Includes verbal, written, or electronic statements that cause a person to reasonably fear for his or her safety.
Hate Crimes in California
A hate crime is an escalating factor of a particular statute because of a perceived motivation or bias. Any violent crime in California also can be prosecuted as a hate crime. This escalation depends on the characteristics of the victim (race or ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability).
California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law
California has a “three strikes” sentencing law—Proposition 36—which escalates penalties for repeat offenders of felony violent crimes. In essence, a defendant who has a prior conviction for a serious felony (a “strike”) receives twice the specified prison term upon conviction. A defendant with two prior “strikes” who is convicted of a serious or violent felony will automatically receive 25 years to life in prison. A 2012 amendment outlines the means by which designated defendants currently serving a third-strike sentence can petition the court for a reduction of their sentences, provided they meet certain conditions.
If you or a loved one has been accused of or charged with a violent crime in Los Angeles County, or if you have additional questions about California’s laws regarding violent crimes, call the Parsanj Law Group today at (818) 273-1360 or submit your concern on the contact page.