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Facing a criminal charge can change your life, but legal representation can minimize or completely alleviate the damage that it has already done.

So when you need award-winning, nationally-renown, and compassionate representation, call our criminal defense lawyers in San Diego.

We’ve tried 100s of cases and are ready to offer you the emotional support and advocacy that you deserve.

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Our Criminal Defense Team

  • I did my fair share of research trying to find an attorney to handle a very serious criminal matter of mine. Of all the offices I visited, this firm was by far the most informative of them all. From the beginning, they were on top of communication and very proactive with my case the entire way. They live up to their reputation of being some of the top trial attorneys in San Diego. Attorney Kerry Armstrong handled my case. He is very dedicated to his profession and serving his clients. In the time that I spent with him, I can tell that he really cared about getting me the best outcome possible.

    - Charlie M.
  • Mr. Armstrong is a one of a kind exceptional criminal defense attorney He is always patient, positive, honest and upfront with you on his opinion of your case. Always committed and diligent in his work ethics. He is highly respected in and out of the courtroom, went above and beyond for my husband on his case and has a great sense of humor that puts you at ease. Would recommend him to anyone in need of a top criminal defense attorney.

    - Melissa S.
  • Vanessa is very knowledgeable in what she does. Her professionalism and passion made this extremely tough time for me remarkably smooth. She was always able to give me all the information I needed and made very clear of the possible outcomes. Communication with her was open at all times and if she was busy, she would make sure to get back to you as soon as she could. I had 4 misdemeanors charged against me with 60 days custody over my head. With a couple of months of negotiating, I get a call with great news. 60-day custody was dropped and 3 of 4 misdemeanors were dropped. The outcome was truly more than I can ask for.

    - Jonathon
  • I was facing LIFE in prison and the prospect of never seeing my family again for a crime I did not commit. Dan Greene took my case and fought for me every step of the way. Against all odds, a corrupt system, a ruthless prosecution and a hanging judge, my lawyer defended me and proved to the world that I had been falsely accused. I owe this man my life. Dan wasn't my first lawyer, but he is definitely my last. I would recommend Dan Greene to everyone. If you are in trouble, you MUST call Dan!

    - Steven P.

Recent Blog Posts

Guide on Sexual Assault Laws in California

| Read Time: 6 minutes

California sexual assault laws define several aggravated forms of sexual battery that elevate sexual battery to a felony offense. However, the prosecutor generally can choose whether to file a misdemeanor or a felony charge.  While reading through California’s sexual assault laws, keep in mind that a criminal defense lawyer helps protect people from charges like these. Although these laws act as a framework, results entirely depend on the specifics of a person’s situation. California Penal Code Section 243.4 defines sexual battery as touching the intimate part of another person against that person’s will and for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.  Sexual battery, also called sexual assault, is a criminal offense. Sexual battery is a misdemeanor offense unless an aggravating factor elevates the crime to a felony.  Misdemeanor Sexual Assault: The Basic Crime of Sexual Battery  In California, sexual assault is defined as touching the intimate part of another person against that person’s will and for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse. This is a misdemeanor sexual battery under the California sexual assault laws.  “Touching” Another Person  “Touching” means that the accused made physical contact with the victim. The physical contact might be skin-to-skin contact or through clothing.  Touching for a misdemeanor sexual battery does not require that the accused touch the victim’s bare skin. Touching could include physical contact over the victim’s clothing.  For felony sexual battery, the accused does need to touch the victim’s bare skin. The accused might touch the victim directly or through the accused’s clothing.  Additionally, for misdemeanor sexual battery, the victim is the person touched.  Misdemeanor sexual assault does not apply when the victim is forced to touch someone. An aggravated form of sexual battery discussed below could apply to these situations.  Touching the “Intimate Part” of Another Person The “intimate part” of another includes any person’s anus, groin, sexual organ, or buttocks. The intimate part of a female also includes breasts.  Against the Person’s Will Sexual battery occurs when the accused touches another person against their will. This means that the accused touched the victim without consent.  A victim generally does not give consent if the accused represented themselves untruthfully. A victim also does not legally consent if the accused unfairly pressured the victim or misled the victim to think the touching was not sexual. In addition, an unconscious or heavily intoxicated person cannot give legal consent.  Touching Another for a Specific Sexual Purpose Touching is for a specific sexual purpose when the accused intended to cause sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.  Sexual arousal and gratification relate to a person’s sexual pleasure. Sexual abuse means causing another to suffer pain, injury, or humiliation. Intimidation is also a form of abuse. Aggravated Forms of Sexual Battery  California sexual assault laws define several aggravated forms of sexual battery. These aggravating factors could elevate the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony offense. California sexual assault laws define the following aggravating factors:  The Accused “Unlawfully Restrained” the Victim Sexual assault is aggravated when the victim is “unlawfully restrained.” Restraining another means to control that person’s liberty (i.e., freedom of movement).  If meant to deprive a person of their freedom, the perpetrator’s words, actions, or authority can also be considered “unlawful restraint.” Keep in mind that the restraint is unlawful if the restriction is against the person’s will. However, restraint is legal if a lawful authority (like the police) does it for a lawful purpose (like an arrest). The Victim was “Institutionalized for Medical Treatment”  Sexually touching a person that is institutionalized for medical treatment can be illegal under California’s sexual assault laws.  Institutionalized means that the person is in a medical treatment facility, hospital, or nursing home. This aggravating factor applies to seriously disabled or medically incapacitated victims.  A person with a severe physical or sensory disability is “seriously disabled.”  “Medically incapacitated” means that the victim is incapacitated by prescribed medications. These medications could include sedatives or anesthesia.  The Accused Falsely Represented that the Touching Served a “Professional Purpose” Sexual assault can become a felony offense when the accused misled the victim to think that the touching served a professional purpose. A professional purpose includes medical and therapeutic treatments.  For example, a doctor who tells a patient that touching the patient’s intimate parts is for medical treatment when it is really for a sexual purpose, falsely represents that the touching serves a professional purpose.  The Accused Caused the Victim to “Masturbate or Touch” Another Person Another aggravated form of sexual assault occurs when the accused causes the victim “to touch or masturbate an intimate part” of the accused or another person.  This form of aggravated sexual assault applies only if: The accused unlawfully restrained the victim, or  The victim was institutionalized and seriously disabled or medically incapacitated.  The accused can cause touching or masturbation through outright force or in more subtle ways. If this force or other manipulation is present, the assault could be charged as a felony. Charges Related to Sexual Assault Aiding and Abetting: Accomplice Liability Accomplices of sexual assault can be charged just as severely as the perpetrator. A person is an accomplice if the person knows the perpetrator is committing sexual assault and they aid, encourage, or facilitate the perpetrator in committing the crime. Rape: California Penal Code §261 This California sexual assault law, Penal Code Section 261.5, is the state’s statutory rape law. Rape is non-consensual intercourse with another person accomplished through threats, force, or fraud. Sexual assault does not require actual penetration or sexual intercourse as is required by the rape statute. Battery: California Penal Code §242 PC Criminal battery is “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” Battery applies to more types of conduct than sexual assault. For example, contact with another person may be a battery regardless of whether the touching was sexual or not. Also, under battery law, the contact does not need to be with a person’s intimate parts....

Man Under Probation For Racist Threats Sent Through Snapchat

| Read Time: 1 minute

Martin Jesus Ruiz, 24, admitted to sending racist threats to another student earlier this year. He appeared in court on Tuesday. He is now ordered to take an anti-bias class at The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. He was also ordered to three years of probation.  Ruiz pleaded guilty on September 3rd to the charge of interfering with civil rights. This charge came when he threatened another student for what was said on social media. Ruiz was arrested by campus police a few days after the post went live. They were able to find him because of his appearance in the video and his username. The post stated that Ruiz would find the victim and hang him. Ruiz has until January to complete the anti-bias course. He also has been ordered to not have any contact with Simmons. Last month Ruiz wrote an apology letter to Simmons. He explained in the letter that he is not a racist and holds no ill-will toward members of the African American community. Ruiz has stated that at the time of the threat he was angry at the victim. This is because of their reaction towards a rap video created by a friend of Ruiz that had racial remarks. In that period of time, Ruiz became emotional and lashed out. According to Ruiz’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, the comments made by Simmons on the rap video were also insensitive, causing Ruiz to lash out. Mr. Armstrong also reported that Ruiz hopes he can put this experience behind him and that he wants to be a teacher someday. Sources: The San Diego Union Tribune, FOX 5

Assault Charges in California

| Read Time: 3 minutes

California law criminalizes assault, which is defined in PC 240 as an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury on a person coupled with the present ability to do so. If you have been accused of assault, you could face time in jail as well as other penalties. At our law firm, we work with clients to fight back against assault charges in California. Our team has helped many clients receive a favorable disposition to their case, but the sooner we can get started the better. Contact one of our California assault attorneys today. What Are Examples of Assault? The following must be true for an assault to have taken place: The defendant took some act that was likely to result in force being used against someone The defendant took this action willfully The defendant knew that a reasonable person would believe that they were about to get hurt as a result of the act The defendant had the ability to apply force when he or she acted There are many common examples of assault: Children throw rocks at people walking by their home. Two people get into an argument in a parking garage. A driver takes a swing at the other, who ducks to avoid getting punched. Two people grab the last big screen TV on a Black Friday doorbuster sale and one tries to kick the other person away. In each of these examples, the defendant attempted to cause a violent injury to another person and also had the ability to inflict force. However, there are some situations that are not assault. Shouting angry words at a person from across the room is not assault. Likewise, threatening someone on a social media account is not an assault (though it may be another crime). In these examples, the aggressive person has no present ability to inflict force on a person. Similarly, a person who turns around quickly and slams their shoulder into another person’s face has also not committed an assault. Their accidents were purely accidental and not undertaken willfully, even if the victim suffers serious injuries. What is Felony Assault in California? Felony assault is also called aggravated assault, which is a much more serious crime. Some aggravating circumstance is present that renders the assault particularly blameworthy, so the prosecutor can charge for aggravated assault: The defendant used a deadly weapon, like a gun or knife, to commit the assault The defendant committed the assault with the intent to commit another felony, such as rape or murder You can find the aggravated assault statute at Penal Code 245. What Are the Punishments for Assault and Aggravated Assault? Simple assault in California is a misdemeanor offense. The penalties include: Up to 6 months in county jail A fine of up to $1,000 If a defendant is convicted of aggravated assault, the prosecutor gets to choose whether to charge as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor aggravated assault carries the following penalties: Up to a year in jail A fine of up to $1,000 A felony conviction carries even more severe penalties, including time in California prison. A convict can also lose important civil rights, such as the right to vote or serve on a jury. Felons also lose their right to possess a firearm. For life, while misdemeanor defendants lose the right for ten years. Don’t forget the collateral consequences that follow any assault conviction. With a criminal record, many defendants struggle to find employment since the conviction shows up in a background report. Are There Defenses to an Assault Charge? Yes. Some of the most successful defenses include: Self-defense. A person can use self-defense if they reasonably believe they or another person is about to suffer a bodily injury and they believe that self-defense is necessary to avoid the danger. The person can only use the amount of force that is reasonably necessary to defend against the attack. Lack of intent. The defendant might have injured someone accidentally or involuntarily. Lack of present ability to harm. The defendant might have been too far away to actually violently injure a person. Mistaken identity. The police might have picked up the wrong person for the crime. The prosecutor always has the burden of proof and needs to prove simple or aggravated assault beyond a reasonable doubt. If they fail to do so, then the defendant cannot be convicted. We can’t talk about defenses without pointing out that the victim does not actually need to be injured. It’s enough that the defendant could have inclicted violent injury. Pointing out the victim walked away unscathed is not a good defense. Contact a California Assault Attorney If the police have arrested you for assault, time is of the essence. At our firm, we have seen many criminal defendants make simple mistakes that end up leading to their conviction. For help with your case, contact us today. The Law Offices of Kerry Armstrong, APLC, has tackled some of the most difficult cases in California. We are proud of our record and want to help represent you, too.