Violent crimes include any crime in which the perpetrator threatens, attempts, or actually inflicts physical harm against people or property. Common violent crimes include aggravated assault, assault and battery, hate crimes, domestic violence, manslaughter, homicide, murder, terrorism, mayhem, and robbery.
The degree of a violent crime depends on factors such as the extent of injuries to the victim(s), the involvement of guns or other weapons, the intentions of the perpetrator, and whether the perpetrator has a previous criminal record. Violent crimes are often punishable by a long federal prison term and/or death.
Assault is one of the most common violent crimes and, although it is often paired with battery, it is actually a separate crime. Assault is the threat of doing bodily harm to another person, whereas battery consists of actually committing violence against another person. A defendant does not actually have to commit a violent act to be charged with assault—the threat is enough.
A charge of assault may also be elevated to aggravated assault under certain circumstances—for example, if a deadly weapon is used in the threat or if the assault is committed with the intention of committing a felony such as murder or rape. A charge of battery may also be elevated to aggravated battery.
Homicide, or murder, is the unlawful killing of another person, and can be charged as first degree or second degree, depending on the crime. In order to be charged with murder, the Prosecutor must prove that the defendant acted with “malice aforethought,” meaning he or she specifically planned to end the victim’s life. The alternative for deliberate intent is implied malice, such as in the case of a clear lack of concern for the other person’s life or behaving with extreme recklessness.
First Degree Murder
First-degree murder is the most serious type of murder charge and is used in particularly heinous crimes where the defendant killed with premeditation, deliberate planning, and intent to end the victim’s life. The Penal Code lists the specific circumstances required to charge a defendant with first-degree murder, such as using weapons of mass destruction, bombs, poison, certain types of ammunition, or firing from a motor vehicle. First degree murder also is used for crimes involving torture, lying in wait for the victim, or committed while attempting a secondary felony such as robbery, rape, or kidnapping.
The punishment for someone convicted of first-degree murder in California may result in 25 years to life incarceration in a state prison, life incarceration without possibility of parole, or death.
Second Degree Murder
Second-degree murder is the lesser of the two murder charges, and is used if the crime does not qualify for a first-degree murder charge as set out by California Penal Code, unless the Prosecutor pursues a manslaughter charge instead.
The punishment for second-degree murder is 15 years to life incarceration in state prison. If the defendant committed the murder by shooting a firearm from a motor vehicle, the prison term increases to 20 years to life. If the murder victim was a peace officer, the term may increase to 25 years to life. Depending on prior criminal record and previous murder convictions, it’s possible for a second-degree murder conviction to result in a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Defense for Violent Crimes
A violent crime charge, especially murder, has the potential to effectively end your life. There is no charge more serious or with more potential for a devastating sentence, so you will want the absolute top criminal defense attorney in your corner. Mr. Rosenblum is one of the premier defense attorneys in California, and the fact that he personally takes care of every aspect of your case means that you will benefit from his vast experience and outstanding record every step of the way.