Berkeley Criminal Defense Lawyer
Dealing with the California criminal justice system can be challenging, especially without guidance from a reliable and experienced criminal defense attorney. Whether you are under investigation, charged with a crime, or already convicted, a well-established Berkeley criminal defense lawyer could make sure your rights and interests are protected throughout the criminal process, even after conviction! En Español
Common Criminal Offenses in Berkeley
California Penal Code § 16 identifies three categories of illegal conduct: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. No matter the level of the charge, there are pitfalls that can complicate a case, and lack of representation could result in unnecessarily harsh punishments and long-term consequences.
- Sections 19.6 and 19.8(b) punishes infractions, the lowest level of unlawful behavior. Fines up to can range from zero, to up to $250 in most cases. Infractions include such things as traffic violations and jaywalking, to name a few. They are not considered crimes. As such, jail is not a punishment for infractions.
- Misdemeanors are the next level of offenses. Misdemeanors typically include such things as driving while under the influence (DUI), simple assault, simple battery, petty theft, resisting arrest, and some gun violations, to name a few. People convicted of a misdemeanor are generally exposed to up to six months or one year in county jail, $1,000 or more in fines, or both under Cal. Penal Code § 19. Misdemeanors are considered a crime and will result in a criminal record.
- The most severe crimes receive the categorization of felonies. Examples of felonies include any crime causing serious bodily injury, death, grand theft, fraud, robbery, burglary, drug sales, arson, various forms of sex crimes like rape, and murder. Felonies are punishable under Cal. Penal Code §§ 17 and 18 by lengthy periods of local jail and/or state prison time, hefty fines, and in some instances, even death. Felonies are crimes and conviction of a felony will result in a criminal record. There are various levels of felonies as well. Some felonies are non-strikes, others are strikes under Penal Code §1192.7 (PC §422 criminal threats, PC §459 residential burglary, PC §243(d), PC §245(a)(1) assault with a deadly weapon, etc.), and the most egregious of offenses are considered violent felonies under Penal Code §667.5 (rape, murder, arson, mayhem, carjacking, robbery, kidnapping, sodomy, oral copulation, etc.)
Common crimes handled by local defense counsel include:
- Driving under the influence which may be a misdemeanor or felony, depending how many prior DUI’s you have, whether you have a previous felony DUI, or if serious bodily injury was involved
- Petty Theft and Shoplifting – generally a misdemeanor, but it depends on the value of what you are accused of taking. If you steal more than $950 worth of property you could face a grand theft charge that could be a felony.
- Domestic violence – could be either a misdemeanor or felony and usually depends on the severity of injuries
- Fraud – generally charged as felony but can be a wobbler so it is possible for it to be charged as a misdemeanor or be reduced to a misdemeanor. Some considerations for charging or reduction have to do with the amount of the fraud and repayment of restitution.
- Assault and battery crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the seriousness of the victim’s injuries or whether a weapon was involved. Simple battery is a misdemeanor while Battery causing great bodily injury is a felony strike offense.
- Sex crimes – most sex crimes are felonies (rape, sodomy, lewd conduct with a child, oral copulation, human trafficking) but there are some sex crimes that can be charged as misdemeanors such as sexual battery, indecent exposure, and unlawful sex with a minor (statutory rape). Most, but not all, sex crimes require registration as a sex offender.
- Drug Crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the type of drug, the reason for possession, and the quantity. For instance, possession for personal use is often a misdemeanor while possession for purposes of sales is a felony.
Whether a person is involved in a motor vehicle transgression or facing time for a violent offense, they may benefit from the experience and know-how of a criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in Berkeley.
What are the Benefits of Working with a Defense Attorney?
Criminal defense firms may have the resources to support the accused by investigating his or her case, gathering exculpatory evidence that may exonerate (free) the accused, interviewing witnesses, and, where necessary, employing private investigators and expert witnesses. Savvy counsel can then harness this information to build a defense that is robust and strategic. Additionally, as part of their services, attorneys could either accompany defendants to court-ordered appearances or stand in for them, so defendants do not have to miss work, school, or other obligations.
With their understanding of the law and familiarity with the local police and prosecutors, Berkeley criminal defense attorneys may have a better chance at securing an acquittal, dismissal of charges, reduction of charges, or negotiating an acceptable plea deal. Any of these results might have a positive impact not only on a person’s future but on his or her criminal record by either avoiding one entirely or minimizing the negative information it contains.
Schedule a Consultation with a Berkeley Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Facing criminal charges can be stressful and overwhelming. You may be unsure how to best proceed in order to protect your freedom and rights. By working with a skilled Berkeley criminal defense lawyer, you could feel confident that your case will receive the care and attention it requires to be successful.
Call our firm right away to schedule your initial case consultation. We look forward to speaking with you.