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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in California criminal law

California defense lawyer, California criminal attorneyIf you reside in California and perhaps plan on entering a life of crime as your primary career path, it may be important to understand the consequences of your actions and have an experienced criminal defense attorney on speed dial. Under the California Penal Code, the punishment level of crimes fall within these three categories.

Felony

Under California law, this category is the most heinous of criminal accusations. Although California forgoes the typical ranking systems often supported by other states, these following acts of criminal activity fall under the felony narrative.

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San Jose criminal defense attorneyFor those who may be unfamiliar, there are currently 26 states, including California, that have adopted the Three Strikes and You Are Out law. California first adopted this sentencing provision in 1994 as an effort to reduce the number of felony convictions per person by imposing significant sentencing consequences for each felony conviction up to three.

On November 6, 2012, some 18 years later, California proposed an amendment to the law which became known as Proposition 36 to California voters. The proposition was passed and amended the original legislation in two ways:

  • Requirements for sentencing of a third strike offender was now set to 25 years to life if the offender was convicted of a violent felony with two or more previous strikes; and
  • The allowance of those offenders already serving a third strike sentence to petition the court for a reduction of this sentence down to a second strike eligibility.

As violent crime is on the rise across the United States one may believe that the Three Strikes and You Are Out law is necessary but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) remains in disagreement.

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Posted on in California Laws

transgender hate crime, San Jose criminal defense lawyerTransgender equality laws have been in the news lately, headlines by the bombshell story that North Carolina’s governor recently signed a law limiting the use of public bathrooms by transgendered people. The issue of transgender rights has long been one for debate, and the debate has not slowed as transgendered people and rights issues continue to be more widely accepted in society.

History of Transgender Rights in California

California was one of the first states to include transgendered people in their civil rights laws—the first law amending that state’s hate crime statutes to include specific mention of rights violations against transgendered people dates back to 1998. The 1998 California law also extended to transsexual people, and was widely considered broad enough to include any person who is assaulted or harassed for failing to conform to gender norms, including but not limited to: the way an individual dresses, the way an individual looks, and the way an individual speaks. At the time, California was only the third state to pass such a law, after Minnesota and New Hampshire.

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Posted on in Sex Crimes

statutory-rapeStatutory rape laws can be difficult to define exactly, and have often been criticized for harsh interpretation that does not allow for human behavior. The federal definition of rape was changed in the beginning of 2013 from the old definition of “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,” to a much more specific definition. Rape is now defined as any type of penetration — no matter how slight — or oral penetration without the consent of the victim. When this new definition went into effect, however, the definition for statutory rape remained the same.

Statutory rape is federally defined as “nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.” The age of consent is determined by the state legislature, and so varies from state to state. If, however, the victim was unable to give consent because he or she was too young to give it, suffers from any mental impairment (temporary or permanent) the crime would be considered rape, not statutory rape.

While some states consider any sexual act between a minor and a person of legal age to be statutory rape, the state of California is a bit more lenient. Statutory rape in California is considered any sexual intercourse with a minor who is more than three years the perpetrator’s junior. If the perpetrator is over the age of 21 and engages in intercourse with a person who is under 16, he is guilty or a misdemeanor or a felony, punishable by up to one year in county jail or up to four years in state prison.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_death-penalty.jpgCalifornians could soon see the resumption of the death penalty in their state. A recent decision from the United States Supreme Court has opened doors for California to resume its efforts to relaunch the death penalty in the state. The ruling, from a case in Oklahoma, reinforced each state’s ability to use lethal injection as a humane method of execution. While execution of death row criminals will not resume immediately in California, state officials have promised to propose a new lethal injection method within 120 days of the Supreme Court’s decision.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday, June 29th, to uphold Oklahoma’s use of a three drug lethal injection method and decided that execution methods do not need to be completely painless. The ruling came from an Oklahoma case over the drug midazolam, the first in a three part lethal injection procedure. In late 2014, inmate Clayton Lockett was involved in a botched execution after he awoke in the middle of the procedure, after he had already been given midazolam and should not have been able to come to. Opponents of the death penalty in Oklahoma argued that the three part lethal injection process left room for pain and did not provide a humane execution. The Court, however, ruled in favor of execution, arguing that “Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether."

Now, California officials have said that within 120 days they will have a proposal ready for a single drug execution policy. Where three drug methods faced legal issues in the past, a single drug method would be much safer, and difficult for opponents to argue against. Once officials unveil the single drug procedure, expected to be a single dose of a fatal sedative, they will still face year long administrative procedures and hearings. Opponents of the death penalty in California point to many past efforts to reinstate the death penalty that were shot down due to failure to comply with state administrative rules as a sign that this new proposal could still be denied. If this new proposal does end up passing, the next hurdle will be finding pharmaceutical suppliers to supply the drugs to prisons.

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