There is no denying the epidemic of violent crimes in society today. The state of California has some of the most stringent penalties for persons found guilty of these crimes. Unfortunately, innocent people continue to get convicted for crimes they have never committed. Various reasons lead to wrongful convictions: racism, mistaken identity, fabricated evidence, lying witnesses, shoddy police investigations, genuine self-defense, and overzealous prosecutors. This is why you need an aggressive lawyer. If you get accused of committing a violent crime, do not sit, and assume the truth will come out by itself. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we are determined to tell and show the truth to all. Our lawyers have a wealth of experience in defending individuals accused of violent crimes, whether they are misdemeanor or felony offenses.

Overview of Various Violent Crimes in California and the Legal Statutes.

Many crimes in California are categorized as violent crimes. Here, we shall discuss various crimes, their penalties, and possible defenses for each. It is important to know that a conviction of violent crime comes with severe penalties, and the consequences to your life are dire.


The violent crime of arson is found under PEN 451 malicious arson and PEN 452 reckless arson.

Under PEN 451, malicious arson to happen requires the presence of specific elements or aspects of the crime. These are:

  • You were responsible for setting fire to burn a forest, structure or property and
  • You intentionally or maliciously and willfully set the fire

For you to be found guilty of PEN 451 violation, the prosecutor must prove the above elements to establish that your actions were following the lawful description of malicious arson.

Generally, a crime in arson is typically considered to be of intent. The law believes the defendant purposely set out to start the fire with clear motives. This is the reason the element of malice and will comes in. However, the fire may have been set up by accident, and you had no malicious intent. In such a situation, your lawyer can argue your case for a lesser charge of reckless burning under PEN 452.

For a person to be convicted of PEN 452 reckless burning, two elements must be present. These are:

  • The defendant is indeed responsible for setting the fire that burned a forest, structure or property
  • That the act was out of recklessness.

To act recklessly according to PEN 452 means:

  • That defendant is aware that their actions present the risk of starting a fire
  • That despite the knowledge, you ignored the potential risk
  • Your actions are a deviation from the normal reasoning of a person in a similar situation.

 Recklessness signifies acting with total disregard for safety. Lighting a match while you are next to materials labeled flammable is an actual act of recklessness. Another example of recklessness is when a person throws a burning cigarette butt in a dry bush.

Penalties for Arson

 Penalties for arson convictions vary based on the below factors:

  • If the defendant is found guilty of reckless or malicious arson
  • The kind of property the defendant burned
  • If there people that sustained injuries in the fire
  • The criminal history of the defendant

When a person gets convicted of an arson offense, in some cases, the judge can order a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant. The report is crucial in helping the judge decide the prison sentence to give the defendant.

Malicious arson charge is generally prosecuted as a felony. One of the penalties for this charge is California state imprisonment. If the malicious arson was on personal property, the offender might be sentenced to 16 or 24 or 36 months. When the damage was on a structure or forest, the sentence will be 24 or 48 or 72 months in state prison. When the malicious arson targeted a structure or property that is inhabited, the penalty would be state imprisonment for 3, 5, or 8 years. When the malicious arson results in another person sustaining bodily harm, the perpetrator will face either 5, 7, or 9 years in state prison.

Additionally, a conviction on malicious arson will carry with it a fine not exceeding $10,000. Besides these penalties, a defendant can be charged further fines amounting to $50,000. Alternatively, the defendant may be asked to pay two times what they would have gained from the arson if it was for financial gain.

A conviction on malicious arson will also result in the defendant having a strike on their record according to the California law on three strikes.

Possible Legal Defenses

With a criminal defense lawyer, various strategies can be used as a defense. Some of these are:

  • The fire was accidentally caused – for a conviction of malicious arson, the prosecutor must prove the defendant was malicious and not reckless.
  • Lack of sufficient evidence for a conviction – most cases are based on circumstantial evidence which may be hard for a prosecutor to prove
  • The defendant was wrongly arrested and falsely accused – this may happen when the real perpetrator is trying to cover their crime or out of malice
  • It is a case of mistaken identity – the eye witness mistakenly identified the defendant as the one responsible for the fire
  • The fire did not happen as a result of arson. – Your lawyer will be able to poke holes in the testimony of the prosecutor’s expert witness to dispute the actual cause of the fire.

Assault PEN 240

Assault is also called simple assault, according to the law. Violating PEN 240 will lead to misdemeanor charges. In this case, the defendant is charged with committing or attempting to commit violent bodily injuries to another individual.

For a conviction of assault to happen, various elements must be present. These elements are:

  • The defendant acted in a way that would have resulted in using force against another person
  • That the defendant intentionally did it
  • When the defendant did this, he or she was aware of facts that would make any reasonable person believe the act would result in the use of force against the other person
  • The defendant performed the act with the ability to use force against the other.

Penalties for Assault

Assault charges are prosecuted as misdemeanors in California. A conviction will result in penalties of a county jail time not exceeding six months as well as a cash fine of not more than $1,000.

Possible Legal Defenses

The law makes it possible for any person to be charged and convicted of assault, even when the defendant’s behavior hurts no one. This has resulted in many people without a criminal past and awareness that they were acting wrongly to be charged with violating PEN 240.

Finding yourself charged with this offense can be frustrating. However, hiring a lawyer is essential to ensure that you fight the allegations. Your lawyer, in this case, will use various defense strategies. Some of these are:

  • The defendant could not cause harm, use force or violence against the other individual
  • The defendant behaved in a certain way for self-defense or defense of another person
  • The defendant had no intention to act as he or she did and did not do it out of a will
  • The defendant was falsely accused


Robbery PEN 211

Robbery is when a person takes things belonging to another by force or inflicting fear against their will. In California, a robbery charge is prosecuted as a felony. There are many ways robbery can be committed. Some of these are:

  • Burglary, as defined in PEN 459. It involves forcefully getting into an inhabited house and threatening to harm the occupants before taking their things with you
  • Using drugs to intoxicate a person into unconsciousness and taking their possessions
  • On getting caught violating PEN 487 grand theft or PEN 484 petty theft, and threatening the property owner with violence or harm to enable you to escape

When a defendant is convicted of this offense, the consequences depend if the act was a first or second-degree one. A first-degree robbery happens when:

  • Robbery against a driver, a passenger in a vehicle whether private or public
  • Any robbery that occurs in a structure with inhabitants
  • Robbing a person that has just used their ATM

When the charges brought against you are on the first degree, you will likely face state imprisonment of between three and nine years. When a defendant is convicted of a second-degree robbery, on the other hand, they will also face state imprisonment, but the duration is shorter. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the defendant will face two or three or five years of imprisonment.

Possible Legal Defenses

Various defense strategies exist for individuals accused of robbery with violence. Some of the strategies your lawyer will use on your defense include:

  • The defendant did not use fear or force while taking the property from the victim
  • The defendant had reason to believe they had a legitimate right over the property
  • The defendant was mistakenly identified as the perpetrator
  • The defendant was falsely accused of the crime.


Carjacking PEN 215

The law on carjacking in California makes taking a car forcefully from another person while instilling fear a severe crime whose penalties are severe. When a person uses force against another, it means they do inflict force physically upon the victim, or they threaten to harm them physically. The law indicates that it does not matter who is in the car and whether or not they own it. However, the use of force and fear to have control over the vehicle will lead to a carjacking charge.


As earlier mentioned, carjacking is a serious crime, and it is charged as a felony. When found guilty of the crime, the defendant will be subjected to serve 9 years of state imprisonment. The jail time is, however, likely to increase if the defendant:

  • Caused physical harm or injuries to the victim
  • While committing the offense, the defendant used a gun to threaten the victim
  • Was committing the offense on behalf of a gang
  • Decided to kidnap the victim while committing the offense

A carjacking offense is a strike according to the laws on three strikes in California. This means the defendant cannot be eligible for parole until they serve a minimum of 85% of their sentence.

Possible Legal Defenses

When you get charged with this offense, do not take it lightly. However, with a criminal defense lawyer, you will be able to come up with the most suitable defense strategy for your case. Some of the defenses your attorney is likely to use are:

  • You were mistakenly identified as the carjacker. The victim may not have had a good look at who was carjacking him or her. In case there was poor lighting, the perpetrator of the crime wore a mask, or you resemble the perpetrator, this is an ideal defense strategy.
  • While the offense was being committed, the defendant did not inflict fear of harm or use force to obtain the car.

Domestic Violence PEN 273.5

The law defines PEN 273.5 as when a spouse inflicts corporal injuries upon their current or former spouse, former or current cohabitant or the father or mother of your child. The injuries, in this case, are expected to result in conditions that would be considered traumatic.


Charges for violating PEN 273.5 can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony based on the criminal history of the defendant or circumstances of the offense. If the defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor, they will likely serve a county jail time of not more than a year. In addition, they will be expected to pay a cash fine, not exceeding $6,000.

If the defendant is convicted as a felony, they are subjected to serve jail time at the state prison for 2 or 3 or 4 years. In addition, a cash penalty of not more than $6,000 is charged on the victim.

There are additional consequences for a person convicted as a felony. The defendant will lose the right to have a firearm. If the defendant is a professional, they may likely lose their professional license; for instance, the license for practicing law.

Possible Legal Defenses

Three defenses are commonly used by lawyers when their client is facing charges of inflicting corporal injuries to their spouse. These defense strategies are:

  • Any injuries inflicted on the alleged victim were not intentional but happened as an accident
  • The defendant reacted in self-defense. It is also possible that the defendant was defending another person from getting hurt by the alleged victim
  • The accusations were falsified which is a common occurrence in many cases of domestic abuse


Stalking PEN 646.9

The law prohibits a person from following, threatening, or harassing another person until they are afraid of their safety. The statute indicates that a person that willingly, repeatedly, and maliciously follows and harasses another and threatens to create fear for a person’s safety or family is guilty of stalking offense.


When a defendant is found in violation of PEN 646.9, charges against them can be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor. If convicted of a misdemeanor, the defendant will face a county jail time of not more than a year or summary probation.

If the defendant is convicted as a felony, the defendant faces state imprisonment for not more than five years or formal probation.

Possible Defenses

One can beat charges on stalking through various strategies. Some of these strategies involve the defendant showing that:

  • He or she had no intention of creating fear
  • The alleged threat had no merit
  • The supposed victim is building a narrative that is not true
  • The defendant was not stalking but rather a participant in an activity that is constitutionally protected.


Murder PEN 187

Killing another person or fetus unlawfully and with a malicious aforethought is what is defined as murder under PEN 187. When a deed is described to have a malicious aforethought, it means the perpetrator had no regard for the life of other humans. He or she also knew their actions could result in death.

An offense of murder is charged as either first or second degree. A charge of first-degree murder arises when:

  • The defendant killed by the use of weapons of mass destruction, destructive devices, poison, armor-piercing ammunition, torture, or was lying in wait.
  • The killing was performed to show that it was deliberate, willful and preplanned
  • The killing happened as the defendant was commissioning other felony offenses.

If the above circumstances were not available during the offense, the charges are brought as second-degree murder.


Murdering another person is a serious violent crime that carries severe penalties in California. If convicted on a first-degree murder charge, the defendant will be imprisoned in state prison. The minimum jail time for the defendant is 25 years, with the maximum being life imprisonment.

If convicted of second-degree murder charges, the minimum jail time is 15 years with a maximum of life imprisonment in state prison.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Near Me

A conviction for a violent crime can alter your life and that of your loved ones drastically. Apart from the penalties a person faces, the consequences later in life can be damaging. Some accusations may be falsified, out of a misunderstanding, or insufficient investigation, among many others. When accused of a violent crime, you must contact a criminal lawyer immediately. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we have extensive experience and knowledge in criminal defense. For whatever violent crime you are accused of, call us today on 310-502-1314, and we will be happy to help you fight the charges.