Los Angeles Felony Crime Defense Lawyers
After being shoved into the back of a police car, you may be at a lost as to what to do next. You may not have even been aware that you were being investigated. Few of us expect to be arrested and charged with a crime at any point in our lives, especially not a crime as serious as a felony. The terrifying truth is, if you are convicted of a felony crime, you could spend years, maybe even decades, behind bars.
That is why you need to work with one of our skilled Los Angeles felony defense attorneys. We at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP specialize in high-profile cases, meaning we almost only represent those charged with felony crimes. If you are facing trial in Los Angeles, then call our firm at (213) 688-0460 today. The faster you call, the more time we have to work on your case and get you the best possible outcome.
In California, there are two main categories of crime: felonies and misdemeanors. Which one you are convicted of will determine a great deal about the penalties you have to face. Of the two, misdemeanors are considered the more minor crimes. Typically, a misdemeanor conviction will lead to less than one year in jail, if you receive any jail time at all. For a misdemeanor, you may instead get community service or probation.
On the other hand, a felony is considered a more serious crime, and the penalties reflect that. After being convicted of a felony, you will serve a minimum of one year in a high-security prison, as well as pay large fines, and be put on parole after your release. Typically, a felony crime will involve the injury or death of a victim, or extreme property damage, or the loss of high-value objects. For example, the theft of something worth less than $950 is a misdemeanor, but a robbery, where weapons are used to threaten and cause harm, is a felony.
However, not all crimes are automatically sorted into one of these two categories. There are some crimes that are considered “wobblers”: depending on the circumstances, these crimes could be considered either felonies or misdemeanors. Common wobbler crimes include burglary, forgery, and domestic abuse. Whether or not a wobbler is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony is completely up to the prosecution. This means that if you are being charged with a felony, depending on the crime itself, you may be able to have it argued down to a misdemeanor, which would result in a far lighter penalty.
People in California face felony charges for allegations of all different types of crimes. Common felony charges include:
- Drug crimes (possession, distribution, or transportation of a controlled substance)
- Driving under the influence
- Motor vehicle theft
- Weapons violations (possessing a gun without a license, carrying a concealed weapon)
- Violent crimes (murder, manslaughter, assault, rape, robbery)
- Domestic violence and child abuse
- Property crimes (larceny, burglary, theft, arson)
Most other states have clear categories for felonies, often working within a number or letter scale. That, however, is not how it works in California. Instead, felonies themselves have different set penalties. There are three set penalties for each crime, ranging from least severe to most severe. If you are convicted of a felony crime with a set sentence, then which one you are given will depend on the prosecution and the judge. Typically, for extreme circumstances, such as if a victim was killed, the prosecution will seek the highest possible penalty.
That being said, there are still felony crimes in California that do not have set sentences. In that case, under the Criminal Justice Realignment Act of 2011, more commonly known as 1170(h), there are three set penalties that will be used instead. Those are:
- 16 months
- Two years
- Three years
Typically, this is only for more minor felonies. Extreme and violent felonies, such as murder, already have set penalties for the prosecution to pursue during trial. However, for felonies like involuntary manslaughter, 1170(h) will be used instead. That being said, convicted felons do not just have to worry about how long they are sentenced to prison, but also what will happen to them when they are finally released.
California’s Three Strikes sentencing law was enacted in 1994. Under this law, a defendant with one prior conviction of a serious felony is required to receive a state prison sentence for twice the term the crime carries otherwise. For a defendant convicted of a felony with two or more prior strikes, a prison sentence of 25 years to life was mandatory under the law.
Proposition 36, approved by voters on November 6, 2012, substantially amended the Three Strikes law as follows:
- The new felony must be a serious or violent felony committed by an offender with two or more prior strikes for the mandatory 25 years to life prison sentence to apply.
- Defendants currently serving a third strike sentence who would have been eligible for second strike sentencing under the new law may petition the court for reduction of their prison terms to a second-strike sentence.
In their discretion, judges can convert all or part of a defendant’s felony prison sentence to felony or formal probation. It can last up to two or three years, or longer for violent felonies. Although the sentence may include up to one year in county jail, most people sentenced to formal probation in California serve very little jail time, or none at all. Unless extraordinary circumstances are present, courts in Los Angeles County are required to grant probation in eligible cases.
A person on probation must comply with specific conditions, as ordered by the court. These conditions may include:
- Drug testing
- Searches of person or property without a warrant
- Monthly meetings with a probation officer
- Individual or group therapy
- Community service
- Payment of restitution to a victim
If felony probation is violated, the judge can revoke probation and order incarceration for the maximum sentence for the crime.
Felons across the United States lose certain rights upon their conviction. Felons are often assumed to be a danger to society, and so they are often punished long after they are released from prison. The truth is, even if you have done your time in California, you never stop paying for the crime. No matter how reformed you may become, there are certain rights that you will lose complete access to. These include:
- The right to own a firearm
- The right to travel internationally
- The right to serve on a jury
- The right to be employed in certain government and licensed fields
- The right to access certain government assistance programs
On top of that, in most cases, you will have to declare your felony conviction to any potential employers during the application process, which can severely limit your ability to find work following your release. Your criminal record will also be available to the public, and anyone who may run a background check, such as a potential landlord, will be able to find it. This can leave you without a job and without a home. Given that many government assistance programs will not be available to you, you may be left to struggle on your own.
Perhaps worst of all, however, is the fact that you will likely lose custody of your children. Felons spend extended periods of time behind bars. Those convicted will not be able to support a family while incarcerated. During that time, custody will be taken from you and given to another party, most often the child’s other parent. However, if the other parent is not available, then it may be given to another relative or an unrelated third-party. Even when you are released, the court may decide that you cannot be trusted to take care of your child and refuse to give you custody again. This means that a felony conviction could leave you jobless, homeless, and without your family.
That is precisely why, if you are facing a felony conviction, you need to work with experienced and dedicated Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers. We at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP have worked with countless clients who were charged with felony crimes and fought for their rights in court. We are prepared to do the same for you. To speak with a member of our skilled team, call us at (213) 688-0460. The prosecution is already working on your case. You don’t have time to wait.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.