Violent Crimes

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Smart Violent Crimes Defense Attorney in Kern County, CA

Violent crime involves any unlawful action that results in physical harm or threats of violence against another person. These offenses are often aggressively prosecuted under California law. A violent crime conviction can have a substantial impact on your life, costing you steep fines and years behind bars.

Despite the focus many prosecutors put on violent crime, the truth about these charges are that they are defensible. Often, these offenses have two sides to the story. If you have been arrested for a violent crime in Kern County, you deserve to have a jury of your peers hear your side of the story.

The Hennessy Law Group can carefully review every aspect of your case. Our team can review police reports and witness statements to determine the truth about the charges against you. Our comprehensive approach to defending the accused could give you the best chance of beating the charges you currently face. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.

Common Examples of Violent Crime Offenses in Kern County CA

While there are many statutes covering the criminal violent acts in the state of California, we discuss some of the most common examples below. Each of these offenses carries the potential for serious penalties upon conviction. The good news is that a conviction is never guaranteed when you work with the right criminal defense attorney.

Assault

Assault is arguably the most commonly charged violent crime in California. Generally speaking, this crime involves an unlawful attempt to injure another person. Assault must happen willfully, meaning an accident should not lead to assault charges.

There are some important limitations on what assault entails. For a defendant to be convicted, they must be aware that the actions they are taking are likely to apply force to another individual. A person must also have the present ability to harm another person. For example, throwing a punch is unlikely to be assault if there is a thick pane of glass between you and the alleged victim.

There are two forms of assault charges: simple and aggravated assault.

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Simple Assault

Simple assault is a misdemeanor under California law and carries a maximum sentence of up to six months in jail. Simple assault also has a maximum fine of at most $1,000. This penalty goes up to a year in jail when the assault targets a person engaged in their official duties, including peace officers, firefighters, and EMTs.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is a more serious crime that can involve the use of caustic chemicals or a firearm. Aggravated assault is a wobbler, meaning it is up to the prosecutor to charge it either as a misdemeanor or a felony.

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Battery

The phrase “assault and battery” is commonly used together, but in California, these are two very different offenses. As we discussed above, an assault involves an attempt at using force on someone else. Battery, on the other hand, is the actual use of force to harm another person.

Like with an assault charge, battery must be a knowing, intentional act. A person that swings their arm and strikes another without realizing they are nearby might not be guilty of battery, but a person that does so intending to strike another person likely is.

Battery is a misdemeanor unless it is committed against a law enforcement officer or it results in serious bodily injury. When serious bodily injury is involved, the charge is known as aggravated battery. Aggravated battery is a wobbler that could lead to either a year in county jail or two, three, or four years in prison as a felony.

Aggravated Assault

Domestic violence involves the harm or threat to harm a spouse or intimate partner. There are a number of offenses that fall under the category of domestic violence. The two most common include domestic battery and inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner. An intimate partner could include:

  • Current or former spouse
  • Registered domestic partner
  • Live-in romantic partner
  • Any person that has had a child with the accused
  • Current or former fiance
  • Anyone in a prior serious relationship.

With more than a dozen offenses that could fall under the category of domestic violence, the penalties of domestic violence can vary dramatically. Many of these offenses are treated as wobblers, with the potential of multiple years in state prison.

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Robbery

A robbery occurs when a person takes the property belonging to another person from them using force or a threat of violence. This criminal act must occur in the presence of another person, otherwise a different form of theft crime could apply.

The force necessary to qualify under the robbery statute does not have to result in serious injury. In fact, merely forcefully taking an item from the hands of another person is enough. This taking must be against the alleged victim's will, and it must be done with the intent to deprive them of it permanently.

Robbery comes in two forms: first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery.

First-Degree Robbery

First-degree robberies occur when a victim is using an ATM or when the robbery occurs in an inhabited home. First-degree robbery is a felony that carries three, four, or six years in prison. The sentencing range increases to three, six, or nine years if the robbery occurs in an inhabited structure.

Second-Degree Robbery

Second-degree robbery covers any robbery crime that does not qualify as a first-degree offense. Second-degree robbery carries a penalty of two, three, or five years in prison.

Kidnapping

A robbery occurs when a person takes the property belonging to another person from them using force or a threat of violence. This criminal act must occur in the presence of another person, otherwise a different form of theft crime could apply.

The force necessary to qualify under the robbery statute does not have to result in serious injury. In fact, merely forcefully taking an item from the hands of another person is enough. This taking must be against the alleged victim's will, and it must be done with the intent to deprive them of it permanently. Robbery comes in two forms: first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery.

Simple Kidnapping

“Simple” kidnapping carries as many as eight years in state prison. Aggravated kidnapping, on the other hand, can have a prison term of five years to life. Kidnapping is a “three strikes” offense, meaning a person must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.

Aggravated Kidnapping

“Simple” kidnapping carries as many as eight years in state prison. Aggravated kidnapping differs from simple kidnapping in that it involves:

  • Serious bodily harm or death
  • The use of a ransom demand
  • Kidnapping a victim under 14 years of age, or
  • Kidnapping while committing the crime of carjacking.

Any act of kidnapping that does not fall within the scope of aggravated kidnapping is considered simple kidnapping, on the other hand, can have a prison term of five years to life. Kidnapping is a “three strikes” offense, meaning a person must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.

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Valid Defenses in Violent Crime Cases in Kern County CA

While the consequences of a violent crime can be steep, they are never guaranteed. After all, if your Kern County criminal defense lawyer is able to see your charges dismissed or prevail at trial, you could avoid any penalties entirely.

The key to beating the charges against you is a winning defense. While no two cases are exactly the same, there are certain defenses that are common across multiple types of violent crime cases. And even then, it often depends on how the defense is executed that will determine a winning defense or not.

Self-Defense

Possibly the most common defense raised in a violent crime case involves the claim of self-defense. While injuring another person is often unlawful, you have the right to protect yourself when threatened with harm. If you have a reasonable belief that another person intends to harm you, the law allows you to fight back. You can only use a proportionate level of force, however. This defense will not work for you if you kill someone in response to being slapped, for instance.

Mistaken Identity

Many violent crimes occur when police are not around. These prosecutions often rely on eye-witness accounts,which can be unreliable. It is not unusual for law enforcement to target the wrong person following a violent crime.

Intoxication

Intoxication is not a complete defense of most violent crimes. However, it can act as a defense in situations where a specific intent is required. It can also be used during the sentencing phase as a factor in favor of leniency.

Consent

Most violent crimes are unlawful because they happen without the consent of the alleged victim. In cases where the alleged victim consents to the act in question, criminal charges are typically unwarranted. This defense could include two friends sparring with boxing gloves on or in a kidnapping case where the alleged victim came with the accused willingly.

Defense of Another Person or Property

Much like self-defense, you are also entitled to defend your property or another person from imminent harm. The important factor in this defense is whether you honestly perceive a potential threat. Resorting to the use of violence to defend your property from a person who no reasonable person could believe was a threat to it would likely fail as a defense.

Why Choose Hennessy Law Group for Criminal Defense in Kern County CA

If you have been arrested for a violent crime in the greater Bakersfield area or anywhere throughout Kern County, Hennessy Law Group is ready to help. Our firm is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the accused, and we take our role as advocates seriously. We have extensive experience taking on the government in violent crime cases and winning. To discuss your defense options, set up a free consultation with the Hennessy Law Group as soon as possible.

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