Every second, 63,000 people hit ‘search’ on Google. That’s 5.6 billion searches per day!
Some of these searches are no doubt high stakes — like right after an arrest.
While it can be tempting and even feel like you’re being proactive, it can have the opposite effect. This is because Google will pull information without any context, giving you the maximum potential sentence, including fines and jail time. This can panic you, potentially paralyzing you from taking important next steps in time to make a difference in your case.
Know this: it’s highly unlikely you’ll see anywhere near the maximum sentence, especially if it’s your first offense. Even if you’re Googling about crimes committed while on bail, your outcome is not going to be nearly as bad as your 3 am searches will make it seem.
Still, I understand why many clients do it. After all, who hasn’t been sick and Googled symptoms and panicked about a cancer or similar doomsday diagnosis?
For your peace of mind, let’s go over some real-life examples of why the reality of your sentence if convicted won’t be nearly as bad as a Google search will tell you it is.
COMMON CRIMES IN CALIFORNIA: REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES OF MAX SENTENCE VS. REALITY
What is the most common crime in California? Similar to this recent post on holiday crimes, they range from petty theft and simple drug possession to rape and homicide. Click on any of the links below for more information on that particular charge.
- Property Crime / Robbery, Burglary
- Drug Possession / Drug Dealing
- Domestic Violence / Assault, Battery
- Sexual Assualt & Rape (in California, Drunk Sex is Rape)
- Theft & Larceny / Vehicle Theft, Shoplifting
- Aiding and abetting
- Homicide / Vehicular Manslaughter
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Let’s run down the maximum sentence for each of these as you’d likely see it on Google:
Robbery & Burglary: Serious felony offenses, especially in the first-degree, the maximum sentence for first-degree robbery without any other enhancements (like using a gun) is 3, 6, or 9 years while second-degree robbery is 2, 3, or 5 years in California State Prison. Assuming this is your first offense, a 2nd or 1st-degree robbery sentence is likely to be mitigated, meaning you’ll probably receive the lighter end of the three possible terms for robbery charges in California. First–degree burglary sentencing guidelines are 2, 4, or 6 years in California State Prison. For more information about robbery and burglary, read this dedicated page on the subject.
Drug Possession & Drug Dealing: Simple possession and possession with intent to sell are two very different charges, but both can be scary to look up, especially if it’s your first offense and you’re not sure of the difference between the two and what to expect for possible jail time.
The more serious of the two, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell is a felony offense. California Health and Safety Code Section 11351 outlines possession with intent to sell jail time of up to 2, 3, or 4 years in jail and up to $20,000 in fines.
Domestic Violence & Assault/Battery: As covered on our dedicated assault and battery page, simple assault and simple battery are misdemeanor offenses. A simple misdemeanor assault is punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or $1,000, unless the assault is against certain government, medical and related authorities. (This could also result in a fee increase up to $2,000 and up to a year in jail.) A simple misdemeanor battery is punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or $2,000.
Because domestic violence cases are emotionally charged and incredibly complex, often involving children and other delicate considerations, read our page dedicated to domestic violence for more guidance on what to expect next and how to best prepare for what’s ahead in order to ensure your best possible outcome.
Sexual Assualt & Rape: Known as sexual battery, California Penal Code 243.3 outlines the many complex definitions that fall within sexual battery in various circumstances. Depending on all factors, the maximum jail time can be one year in a county jail and $2,000 fine OR up to 2,3, or 4 years in jail and $10,000. So, what is the punishment for California rape? As outlined in California Penal Code Section 261, rape carries with it up to 8 years in California State Prison and a $10,000 fine.
Either way, my clients often come to me worried about ending up on the sex offender registry. California’s Megan’s Law website outlines the details on this registry and related information.
If you find yourself being wrongfully accused of rape after a night in which you believed there was mutual consent, please read this blog post, titled ‘Drunk Sex = Rape in California’.
Petty Theft & Related Charges: While various levels of theft can be charged as an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony, a simple Google search can be quite scary. Petty theft charges in California are vastly different from grand theft charges (California has separate penal codes for them.)
According to California Penal Code Section 484 and 488, petty theft (currently property/anything of value up to $950) is a misdemeanor offense and it can carry up to six months in jail for a first offense. Grand theft and felony grand theft, as outlined under California Penal Code Section 487, are more serious and can come with a one-year sentence in county jail and $1,000 or 3 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.
Aiding & Abetting: To clear up common confusion about this charge, aiding and abetting, California Penal Code Section 31 defines aiding and abetting, in part, as “all persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission, or, not being present, have advised and encouraged its commission.”
This is different from being an accessory after the fact (California Penal Code Section 32,) which involves harboring or otherwise helping someone after a felony has been committed.
An exact aiding and abetting sentence is going to be similar to the original crime committed. For instance, if you told someone how to rob your place of work and they carried it out, you could carry up to 9 years as if you had robbed your place of work yourself.
If you are an accessory after the fact, there are many factors to consider in determining the potential sentence. But as a simple rule of thumb, if you are an accessory after the fact to someone committing a felony, you could be looking at up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 yourself.
Homicide & Vehicular Manslaughter: As mentioned on this dedicated page on Homicide, the main difference between murder and a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter comes down to one thing — the mental state of the person who committed the homicide.
First-degree or second-degree murder, under California Penal Code 187, carries a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison and second degree 15 years to life.
Voluntary manslaughter, under California Penal Code 192(a), is often a reduced murder charge that carries a sentence of 3, 6, or 11 years in state prison.
Involuntary manslaughter, under California Penal Code 192(b), does not require the intent to kill but stems from reckless indifference for life and carries up to 2, 3, or 4 years in prison.
Vehicular manslaughter, California Penal Code 192(c) is a wobbler that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, all based on the level of negligence. Gross negligence can range from 1 year in county jail to 6 years in prison while ordinary negligence is a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in county jail. Drinking further complicates the situation, and the best DUI lawyer knows that starting on your case right away is a priority, because things are about to get very complicated, especially after a DUI arrest.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Jail time ranging from 4 days to 6 months, a fine of $1,400 – $2,600, and a license suspension of 30 to 60 months. Based on this Google search for ‘California DUI penalties chart’, anyone would be (rightfully) terrified that their life was forever altered by one mistake. (It’s not, by the way, a criminal charge doesn’t make you a criminal, even if it’s for serious crimes).
Fortunately, many counties have their own diversion programs that result in no jail time at all and give you your driving privileges back sooner in some cases (such as voluntary installation of an ignition interlock device.)
In Fresno County, for example, if the offense is a third DUI arrest within 10 years, a defendant can qualify for DUI court and a related rehabilitative program that ultimately benefits them.
Finding county-specific information across the state with a Google search has also become a bit more challenging as DUI diversion is a controversial topic right now. Late last year, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled against misdemeanor diversion applying to DUIs, but at this time, there is no change to legislation barring misdemeanor diversion programs from being applied.
As a reputable and affordable DUI attorney serving Los Angeles, Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced, Tulare, Visalia, and Orange County, we know firsthand that different counties have different rules. And we know the current laws and related considerations applicable to your case allowing us to ensure the best outcome possible.
No matter the charges you’re facing, there are a host of diversion programs available to you that may help mitigate your sentence. By hiring a skilled attorney at Proper Defense you will learn what mitigating factors need to be presented to the court to get you the lowest punishment possible. Our attorneys file briefs with supporting documents laying out what factors should be considered in your favor. One of our main focuses is conveying who our clients are to the court and the DA through both writing and oral advocacy.
A SECOND CHANCE IS MORE LIKELY WITH THESE AVAILABLE DIVERSION PROGRAMS
Fortunately, a number of legislative reforms in recent years have brought rehabilitation to the forefront of the criminal justice system (as mentioned in a recent post about resentencing eligibility). The potential benefits to your case are many as these diversion programs carry new requirements and guidelines for enhancements, the redefinition of criminal gang enhancement, and new opportunities for probation and drug treatment for nonviolent drug crimes. Click the link for the related post on each of the following diversion opportunities outlined below.
The Drug Diversion Program: allows a treatment and education diversion program for defendants arrested for low-level, non-violent drug crimes with no previous disqualifying convictions in the last 5 years. Mainly for drug possession.
The Military (or Veterans) Diversion Program: defendants are often eligible for a treatment and diversion program for the following conditions: PTSD, sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, or mental health problems.
The Misdemeanor Diversion Program: increases diversion opportunities for various misdemeanor cases. Defendants with misdemeanors could have their case dismissed or erased upon completion of a court-ordered education or treatment program. No “guilty” or “no contest” plea is required for the program.
The Mental Health Diversion Program: Applicable for misdemeanors and certain felonies, this program allows the chance for treatment and possible dismissal of charges. Not all crimes are eligible. Murder and sex crimes are among those excluded.
Because requirements can vary by county, a proper defense is your best course of action whether you’re wondering if you’re eligible for the misdemeanor diversion program or simply need sound advice on which next steps to take in your specific case and county. An attorney you can trust is key, and you have come to the right place to receive the support you need.
As our philosophy states, confidence and trust are foundational pillars of the attorney-client relationship, one unlike any other professional or personal association. This is the only relationship that involves truly secret communication. An attorney takes what you say to the grave. This level of confidence can help you disclose what you need in order to make your best case so that you can return to life as you deserve it to be lived.
DROP YOUR GOOGLE SEARCH, PICK UP A PROPER DEFENSE
While we know the legal process can seem inaccessible so it’s tempting to reach for your phone, Google isn’t your best bet for clear answers and a path forward. Fortunately, the support you need is a phone call away. We make this process as straightforward as possible.
For a true advocate that you can trust, in a judgment-free zone, contact Proper Defense Law Corporation today. For a FREE consultation in the Fresno area, call (559) 825-3800. You can reach us at our Beverly Hills location by calling (424) 284-4066. You can also schedule an appointment online on our Contact Us page. It gets better with Proper Defense, we promise.
Your search for ‘super lawyers near me’ or ‘best criminal defense’ can effectively end here. (Los Angeles, Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced, Tulare, Visalia, and Orange County are all areas we serve.)
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