Felonies

Are You Charged With a Felony?

A California felony conviction is nothing to fool around with and comes with devastating life changing consequences. In the best case scenario, you could get formal probation with little or no jail time, but in the worst case scenario, punishment could include a state prison term from 16 months all the way up to life behind bars. A felony conviction also comes with additional  consequences such as the loss of a business or professional license, loss of employment, travel restrictions, firearms ban, and if the person convicted is not a Unites States citizen, even deportation.

If you have been arrested or charged with a felony, you should contact Damian Siwek, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, at DCS Defense to schedule a no-cost confidential consultation to discuss your legal options .

Felony Criminal Lawyer in Los Angeles

Felonies come in all types including non-violent crimes ranging from petty theft (shoplifting) with prior convictions to violent crimes such as domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, sex crimes and murder. Types of felony crimes include:

  • White Collar Crimes – Bribery, theft, forgery, fraud, embezzlement,  perjury, identity and computer crimes;
  • Drug Crimes – Possession, manufacturing, distributing, selling, and possession with intent to sell;
  • Sex Crimes – Sexual assault, sexual abuse, illegal possession of pornography, continuous sexual child abuse;
  • Serious and Violent Crimes – Kidnapping, arson, mayhem, or involuntary manslaughter, grand theft involving a firearm, California felony DUI (4th offense time in 10 years).

Three Strikes Law

While a felony conviction can be a catastrophe anywhere, the California Three Strikes Law is especially ruthless, making California the worst state in which to face a felony conviction. For years, it was one of the harshest sentencing schemes in the country and a law that would send people convicted of even non-violent offenses to prison for life.

Before the three strikes law was amended in November 2012 (more on that in a moment), a “strike” sentence could be triggered by any felony conviction – even for a “wobbler” or non-violent offense. As a result, strikers were being given lengthy and life sentences after convictions for things like receiving stolen property and simple possession of a controlled substance.  So the old version of three strikes could lead to gravely disproportionate and even absurd outcomes, like giving someone convicted of shoplifting a longer sentence than someone convicted of murder.

But in November 2012, a growing movement of people dedicated to repealing or reforming the unfair three strikes law finally won a major battle. California voters passed “Proposition 36″, aka the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012.

To summarize briefly, the 2012 reform of California Three Strikes law means that…in most cases…there will no longer be a mandatory 25-years-to-life sentence for “strikers” whose third strike is not a “serious” or “violent” felony. An overwhelming majority of California voters voted for this law…clearly showing that the public had finally had enough with the unfair and expensive older version of the Three Strikes system. Even better, Proposition 36 allows people sentenced under the old Three Strikes law…who would not be subject to a Three Strikes sentence under the new law…to petition for a reduced term.

Felony Sentencing

Felonies in California can be punished with a Determinate Sentence (a set prison term) or an Indeterminate Sentence (a variable term – such as life in prison). Most California felonies are punishable under the Determinate Sentencing laws. This means a judge may impose one of three prison terms: low, middle or high term. For instance, first degree burglary is punishable by the low term of 2 years, middle term of 4 years or upper term of 6 years. Indeterminate sentencing is reserved for murder and a few other crimes such as kidnapping, robbery, rape, and aggravated mayhem.

Usually the judge chooses the middle term, but the final sentence depends on many factors, including the judge’s discretion, the crime’s seriousness, the defendant’s criminal history and other mitigating (less serious) or aggravating (more serious) factors.  For example, a mitigating factor would include playing a passive role in the crime.  An aggravating factor would include using a weapon during the crime.

California Wobblers

Under California law, some crimes are called “wobblers” due to their ability to be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony at the prosecutor’s discretion. When expungement or sentencing hangs in the balance over the status of a wobbler, legal representation by an attorney from DCS Defense can tip the justice scales in favor of a misdemeanor and minimize the impact and punishment of a wobbler crime. Some examples of wobblers include:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Domestic violence
  • Hit and run
  • Embezzlement
  • Certain drug offenses
  • Criminal threats
  • Fraud
  • Vandalism
  • Possession of a firearm.

Los Angeles Felony Attorney

Even the lightest felony conviction can ruin many aspects of every day existence for you by limiting your employment and housing opportunities and the very quality of your life for years to come.  Choosing the right criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between jail and freedom. If we are retained as your legal counsel, you can rest assured knowing that we will aggressively pursue any and all defenses and options to secure the best possible outcome. That includes arranging for alternative sentences which may help you avoid jail altogether and taking your case to trial if necessary.

For aggressive and effective representation against felony charges, including a free confidential consultation, contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Damian Siwek at DCS Defense.