California Criminal Defense is the practice area of a California criminal lawyer. California criminal defense lawyers handle all different types of criminal charges. Cases can range from simple matters like traffic tickets all the way to serious and violent criminal charges like murder. Finding a good California criminal defense attorney means finding someone with the skills to keep you out of jail on any criminal charge in California. This can be something routine like a drug charge, a theft charge, domestic violence or a DUI, or it could be a more serious matter like child abuse, rape, or assault with a deadly weapon. California criminal courts see a diverse range of criminal conduct with charges like fraud, arson, forgery, and kidnapping occurring every day.
Anyone facing the California criminal justice system needs to locate an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. Many attorneys will tell you that the best time to contact a criminal defense lawyer is before you get arrested. At this early stage, your lawyer can protect your rights and prevent the investigation from turning into a prosecution. If an arrest has already taken place, don’t wait for the court date to see if you “need a lawyer”. Anyone who has been arrested or charged with a crime needs a lawyer, period.
Criminal charges generally fall into one of 4 categories:
The least serious type of charge is an infraction. By definition, infractions do not carry jail or prison time in California, however these types of offenses can have consequences beyond a fine. Many infractions can trigger a suspended license for example, or cause the loss of eligibility for employment, or other opportunities. The next level of charge is California is a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanors in California by definition can be punished by up to 1 year in the county jail. Misdemeanor charges can not result in State prison time unless the person facing the misdemeanor charge is already on probation for a previous felony.
More serious crimes in California are known as felonies. Felonies can carry time in county jail or in state prison.
The most serious type of charge in California is a “strike”. All “strikes” are felonies but but not all felonies are “strikes.” Under the California 3 strikes law only serious or violent felonies are subject to the enhanced penalties set by the statute.
If you are in need of a California criminal defense lawyer, research the lawyers qualifications carefully. Learn more about California criminal defense by reading our California criminal defense blog, written by the California lawyers who contribute to Flock of Legals.