Los Angeles Criminal Charges and Penalties

Criminal Charges and Penalties in LA

Los Angeles is no stranger to crime, and prosecutors crack down hard on offenders. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can dramatically impact the outcome of your case. Let’s examine some of the most common criminal charges in Los Angeles and how a conviction could impact your life. 

Common Criminal Charges in Los Angeles

Recent statistics from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) reported an overall decrease in crimes citywide in a recent year. Homicides were down 17 percent from the previous year. Gang-related homicides declined 26 percent. Other violent crimes, such as shootings, rapes, and aggravated assault, also decreased. However, property crimes spiked up, including auto theft and retail theft. Traffic offenses, like DUI, felony hit-and-run accidents, and pedestrian accidents all increased as well. 

Other common crimes in Los Angeles include: 

  • Burglary 
  • Drug crimes
  • Domestic violence
  • Assault and battery
  • Sex crimes
  • Weapons offenses 
  • Larceny

If you’re facing criminal charges, the statistics don’t matter. Getting protection from a criminal defense attorney is the best thing you can do to help your case. 

Penalties and Consequences

The penalties for criminal charges in LA depend on the nature of the crime: 

  • Infractions – Minor crimes, like traffic tickets, carry the least penalties, usually a fine. 
  • Misdemeanors – A misdemeanor crime is generally punishable by six months to one year in county jail and other potential penalties, like jail time or probation.
  • Felonies – The most severe types of crimes in California are felonies. Convictions in these high-stakes cases can result in as long as a life term in state and other penalties. 

In some cases, misdemeanor charges could be upgraded to felonies for individuals with prior convictions. However, a skilled lawyer can develop a strong defense that could lead to a reduction in charges or dropped charges altogether. It all depends on the facts of your case.  

Navigating the Legal Process

The criminal justice process in Los Angeles can be confusing, especially if this is the first time you’ve been accused of a crime. Here’s what you can expect as your case progresses. Keep in mind your case may not go through all these stages, depending on how things proceed. 

  • Arrest  After the police arrest you, you have the right to a criminal defense lawyer. This is when a prosecutor will decide whether to file charges. 
  • Arraignment – A judge explains your charges and legal rights during an arraignment. You may respond to the charges at this time. 
  • Pretrial  If your case goes to trial, your attorney and the prosecution will gather evidence and develop a strategy to tackle your case. Your lawyer might also seek a plea deal to avoid trial.
  • Trial  During a trial, a judge and/or jury will hear the arguments and render a verdict.
  • Sentencing  If the court finds you guilty, the judge will determine your sentence.

The Role of Legal Representation

It’s never a good idea to represent yourself in a criminal case. You need an experienced lawyer who empathizes with how even being charged with a crime can have negative legal consequences in LA. Even if you are acquitted, you could face biases in your community and law enforcement simply from being accused of wrongdoing. 

Beyond that, getting strong legal representation immediately means your interests are protected from the start. Your attorney can determine whether law enforcement respected your rights, interview witnesses, and weaken the prosecution’s case by gathering evidence to support your innocence. Even if the charges against you can’t be dropped, a skilled defense attorney can push for leniency after reviewing your case. 

Speak to a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Now  

A robust criminal defense in Los Angeles is essential to pursue the best possible outcome for you. Let the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling help. With more than 20 years of criminal trial experience, our law firm can safeguard your rights and fight for your freedom. Contact us today for a free consultation.