The term “violent crime” is thrown around a lot, but few people understand that it does not simply refer to any crime that involves violence. A violent crime in California refers to crimes defined under Penal Code 667.5(c).1 Some of the more common violent crimes include murder, voluntary manslaughter, and rape. But you may be surprised to hear that robbery, carjacking, and extortion are also considered violent offenses.
A violent crime is serious, and the penalties—both immediate and long-term—are harsh and potentially life shattering. If you are being charged with a violent crime in California, immediately contact a criminal defense attorney who can begin helping you with your case.
The Punishments Associated with Violent Crimes
Separate from the prison sentence and fines that you face for the crime itself, a violent crime carries with it a number of additional potential penalties.
First, depending on the underlying crime, your sentence could be enhanced. Enhancements are additional prison terms that are added to the original prison sentence that the crime carries. This is done to reflect the harsh nature of the offense, or because you have a particular prior conviction.
One of the most common sentence enhancements is where the crime was committed to benefit a gang. The gang enhancement imposes an automatic 15 years to life prison sentence.
If the crime resulted in the victim suffering great or substantial bodily injury, a sentence enhancement of 3 to 6 years is added onto your prison sentence. Likewise, if the crime involved the use of a gun you could face an additional 10 to 20 years in prison.
In addition, if you are convicted of a violent crime in California you will receive a “strike” on your criminal record. Under California Penal Code section 667, the accumulation of 3 “strikes” can lead to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.2
What a Violent Crime Conviction Means for You After Release from Prison
So you’ve been convicted of a violent crime, served your sentence, and have been released from prison. What now?
A violent crime conviction also carries with it several post-release consequences. After being released from prison, you will be placed on parole for a minimum period of three years. Your parole officer will require you to obey all of the conditions of your parole, which are usually very strict. If you violate any of the terms of your parole you can be returned to jail.
Being convicted of a violent crime will also result in the lifetime ban on owning a firearm. Additionally, if you have been convicted of a violent crime and are later charged with a subsequent violent crime, you may become subject to sentence enhancements.
If you are convicted of a violent crime, you will also be required to disclose this information when asked by an employer about prior criminal convictions. This can make it extremely difficult to find meaningful employment once released. If you were required to serve your sentence in a state prison, you will be ineligible for expungement of your criminal record and will carry this conviction with you for the rest of your life. This makes it incredibly important to hire an experienced attorney to represent you if you are accused of a violent crime.
Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Facing a violent crime charge can be extremely tough, and the long and complicated legal process can be overwhelming. You need a criminal defense attorney with experience successfully defending clients against violent crime charges. At Wallin & Klarich, we have over 30 years of experience defending clients facing violent crime charges. Let us help you, too.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney can help you no matter your location.
Call us at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will be there when you call.