Santa Clarita Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being charged for a crime in Santa Clarita can be a terrifying ordeal. Once you have been charged, it can feel as if the entire world is against you. You will be confronted with law enforcement and prosecutors, both powerful people and neither on your side. When you feel like your world is falling apart, remember that you have a right to have someone in your corner defending your rights. A skilled defense attorney will help protect you from the government’s authority and work to prevent your rights from being trampled.
To get help with your criminal charges and pending trial, contact our Santa Clarita criminal defense lawyer immediately. Our legal team has the skill and experience to defend you throughout the criminal justice process. Call Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law, at (909) 861-8075 to schedule a free legal consultation.
The Difference Between Felonies and Misdemeanors in Santa Clarita
As in many other states, California divides criminal charges into broad categories of felonies and misdemeanors. It is important to understand both, as the type of charges you face will determine your penalties if you are found guilty.
Felonies are defined under the California Penal Code as crimes punishable by death, imprisonment in state prison, or sometimes imprisonment in county jail. This definition is extremely broad and nearly any crime could be a felony. To determine if your charges are felony charges, you will need to look at the penalties. If the penalties are more serious, like state prison terms or the death penalty, you are looking at a felony.
While felonies are defined by the type of punishments they are eligible for, misdemeanors include everything else. If it is not classified as a felony, you are facing a misdemeanor. It is not uncommon for a particular offense to be charged as a misdemeanor just because the court or the prosecutor says so. Misdemeanors are often punished by jail terms rather than prison.
Not all crimes are explicitly classified as felonies or misdemeanors. Some offenses are referred to as “wobblers,” and they can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Exactly how the offense is charged lies within the discretion of the prosecutor or the court. A wobbler offense where the circumstances are more severe may lead to a felony charge. A less severe wobbler might be charged as a misdemeanor. Speak to our Santa Clarita criminal defense lawyer about your charges to fully understand the potential penalties ahead of you.
Penalties for Criminal Charges in Santa Clarita
In other jurisdictions, penalties are assigned to classes and subdivisions of offenses. In California, however, penalties are assigned to individual crimes rather than broad categories. Penalties also tend to be set as tiers rather than a range. Take the crime of robbery of the second degree. Instead of a possible sentence of 2 to 5 years, it is punishable by either 2, 3, or 5 years in state prison. Most other crimes follow a similar pattern with three tiers of possible prison or jail time.
When imposing a sentence, the court will typically choose the middle tier. However, courts have the discretion to set either the lower or higher tier based on the facts of the case. For example, if someone was hurt during the commission of the offense, the court might consider imposing the higher tier. If nobody was hurt and the defendant has taken responsibility and shown remorse for their actions, the court might consider the lower tier. Contact our Santa Clarita criminal defense attorney to discuss your possible penalties.
People Who Can and Cannot Be Criminally Charged in Santa Clarita
Nearly all people can be charged with a crime if all the necessary criminal elements are present. However, the California Penal Code provides a list of people who may be exempt from criminal charges. This list is short, narrow, and probably does not cover the vast majority of people. People who cannot be criminally charged are usually exempt due to some legal status or extenuating circumstances.
Children under the age of 14 cannot be charged with a crime unless there is clear proof that they knew their actions were wrong when the crime was committed.
People who are mentally incapacitated should not be convicted of a crime. Usually, this is because they are incapable of understanding the wrongfulness of their actions.
People who commit a crime under a mistake of fact cannot be charged. A mistake of fact would be like taking someone else’s purse because you thought it was yours. You could not be charged with theft because you mistakenly believed the purse belonged to you.
A person could not be charged with a crime if they were not conscious when it was committed. This is a somewhat niche rule and only applies in limited circumstances. An example might be if you suddenly pass out while driving, you probably could not be charged with reckless driving because you were unconscious. This would not apply to a situation where you were so intoxicated that you blacked out. This defense is more often used by people who have a medical condition that makes it hard for them to stay awake.
You cannot be charged if you committed the crime by accident and there was no criminal intent behind your actions. To be convicted, a defendant must have some level of intent. If that is absent, there is no crime.
Finally, people cannot be charged with a crime when they committed the offense under duress. The person must believe that their life would be at risk if they did not commit the crime.
If you think you should not have been criminally charged, call our Santa Clarita criminal defense lawyer for help.
When You Can Expect to Be Criminally Charged in Santa Clarita
A defendant is often criminally charged relatively quickly. In some cases, arrests are made at the crime scene and the defendant is charged very shortly after. In other instances, there is a formal investigation before a defendant is officially charged. No matter what, charges must be filed within the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitation places a time limit on how long the state has to charge someone with a crime. If the time limit has passed, nobody can be charged for the crime. Different offenses may have different statutes of limitations, but many statutes last for several years before they expire. Other offenses are so serious that they have no statute of limitations and a person could be charged years after the fact. If you believe your statute of limitation may have elapsed, call our Santa Clarita criminal defense attorney.
Call Our Santa Clarita Criminal Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one was charged with a crime in California, call our Santa Clarita criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law, at (909) 861-8075 to schedule a confidential legal consultation.