Crimes labeled “violent” often carry more severe consequences than “nonviolent” crimes. So what is a violent crime?
Although the California Penal Code does not provide a precise definition of what is considered a violent crime, it defines violent felonies. In California, violent felonies include:
- Most sexual offenses,
- Physically injuring or threatening to injure someone, and
- Many felonies perpetrated with a gun.
If you have been accused of a violent crime, you need an experienced and dedicated California violent crime attorney to fight for you.
Violent Crime Defined
What is a violent crime in California, specifically? California’s definition can be broken down into the following four categories.
There are three common homicide crimes:
- Murder, meaning killing a person or fetus intentionally or as a result of acting in a way clearly likely to cause death;
- Voluntary manslaughter, meaning killing another person “in the heat of passion”; and
- Attempted murder, meaning taking a direct but ineffectual step intended to kill another person.
Using an explosive device during any of these crimes is considered a separate offense.
Sexual offenses that are considered violent crimes include:
- Rape accomplished by force or the threat of immediate or future injury;
- Sodomy involving force, threats, a person under 14, or two or more people;
- Oral copulation involving force, threats, a person under 14, or two or more people;
- Lewd or lascivious act involving force, threats, a person under 14, or a dependent person;
- Sexual penetration involving force, threats, or a person under 14;
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child involving three or more acts of “substantial sexual conduct” with a person under 14 years over three months or more; and
- Rape or sexual penetration, in concert accomplished by two or more people using force or the threat of immediate or future injury.
A sexual offense not included on this list, even if a felony, is not a violent crime in California.
Physical Injury or Threats of Injury
The broadest category of violent crimes includes:
- Mayhem (disabling or disfiguring another person),
- Any felony involving great bodily harm,
- Assault with intent to commit a felony other than murder,
- Extortion by gang members,
- Threats to victims or witnesses by gang members,
- Use of a weapon of mass destruction,
- Assault with a firearm on a peace officer or firefighter, and
- Assault or hostage taking committed by a prisoner.
Again, using an explosive device to injure another person subjects you to an additional charge.
Forcible Theft Crimes
Other felonies that are considered violent crimes include:
Any felony that carries a sentence of life in prison qualifies as well.
Consequences of Conviction
In California, the court uses previous violent felony convictions to lengthen sentences for new convictions.
On the second conviction, the sentence is doubled. On the third conviction, the sentence is 25-years-to-life.
Defending Against Violent Crime Charges
With such high stakes, you need an experienced defense attorney on your side if you are charged with a violent crime in California.
At The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we fight to ensure everyone, including those accused of violent crimes, gets their day in court.
Contact us online today to learn how our award-winning attorneys can help you.