San Diego Criminal Lawyer | Violent Crimes
Explained by a San Diego Criminal Lawyer
Most Common Types of Violent Criminal Charges
An assault is when you place another person in fear of imminent unwanted physical contact. People commonly mistake "assault" as requiring physical contact; that is called "battery."
Battery is unwanted harmful or offensive physical contact.
A battery with serious bodily injury is harmful or offensive contact of another person that results in a serious physical injury. This is a far more serious crime than simple battery. A battery with serious bodily injury is a felony which means prison time. On the civil side, a battery with serious bodily injury case can be the subject of a large dollar-value civil claim. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows how to defend you against both criminal and civil charges in a trial.
California Penal Code 245 PC
Assault with a deadly weapon is either an assault with a "deadly weapon," or by force that is likely to produce "great bodily injury." There is an urban legend that MMA fighters and Boxers have to register their hands as deadly weapons - this is a myth. Those with significant combat experienced are sometimes charged under this statute for using force likely to cause great bodily injury.
A homicide is the unlawful killing of a human being or fetus. There are 4 different types of homicide charges.
First Degree Murder PC 187(a)
First degree murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with premeditation and deliberation. This means that the act of killing the person was contemplated, planned, and executed. Premeditation and deliberation do not require a long period of time to accomplish - in fact, if a gun is used, there is a jury instruction that specifically informs the jury that premeditation and deliberation can be achieved in the amount of time it takes to point the gun and pull the trigger.
Second Degree Murder PC 187(b)
Second degree murder is an intentional killing without deliberation or premeditation. Second degree murder happens when a person, with wanton disregard for human life, does an act that has a high probability of resulting in death. This is distinct from involuntary manslaughter because the act was done intentionally.
Voluntary Manslaughter - PC 192(a)
Sometimes called a "heat of Passion" killing. Under california Penal Code 192(a) PC Voluntary manslaughter is a killing that is the result of a sudden quarrel or the heat of passion. A classic example of voluntary manslaughter is a cuckold husband who comes home to find his wife in bed with another man and kills them both. (Note that it is possible that a person can be charged and convicted under first-degree murder in this same scenario).
Involuntary Manslaughter - PC 192(b)
Involuntary manslaughter is a killing without malice, and without intent, but a killing that resulted from a conscious disregard for human life. The classic example of involuntary manslaughter is a defendant giving illegal drugs to another person who then overdoses on those drugs. The defendant did not intend to kill the other person, but their conduct was in conscious disregard for human life. (Note that if the defendant knew of a medical condition of the victim that could be complicated by drug use this act could be charged as 2nd degree murder.)
Under California Penal Code 261 PC, "Rape" is broadly defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse achieved by threat, force, or fraud. While most rapes are perpetrated by an acquaintance of the victim (also known as acquaintance or date rape), most false claims of rape are levied against a person whom the victim knows. Motivations for false claims of rape vary, but can range from vengance for infidelity and scorn stemming from unrequited love, or regret of an over-indulgence of alcohol and hedonism. If you have been falsely accused of rape, you need to call an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to prevent charges from being filed.
Under Penal Code 243.4 PC non-consensual touching of the intimate parts of another person for purposes of sexual arousal, gratification or abuse is considered sexual battery (sometimes colloquially referred to as sexual assault). Depending on the circumstances of the sexual contact, this crime may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Conviction of either a felony or a misdemeanor under PC 243.4 requires lifetime registration on California's Sex Offender Registry.
California three strikes laws were once considered among the harshest and most draconian laws in the land. With the passage of Proposition 36 in 2012, a defendant can no longer receive a 3rd strike for a non-violent felony. If you were convicted of a non-violent felony as a third strike, you are eligible to have your sentence reduced. While the intent of three strikes laws was to reduce the crime of repeat offenders, the data is inconclusive that the law has had any positive effect. In fact, some argue that the risk of a third strike and life in prison without parole encourages people who are facing arrest to go on a crime spree, regardless of the danger to life or property (because their sentence cannot get any worse).
California Felony Murder Rule
If you are participating in the commission of a violent felony (such as robbery), and a person dies - by no fault of your own, and regardless of your intent - you can be charged and convicted of murder under the felony murder rule.