Archives : 2010 : November
Assault and battery charges are taken serious in California. California Penal Code 240 defines assault as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another. A battery is defined under California Penal Code 242 as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another”. Incidences of assault and battery typically occur during a physical fight or a verbal argument that turns into a physical altercation. Assault can also be construed even if you physically throw an object at someone regardless if they are injured or not, and you could still be arrested in California. A simple assault misdemeanor carries penalties ranging from six months to a year in the county jail and a fine of $1,000 to $2,000. A simple battery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and carries penalties ranging from six months in the county jail to three years in state prison and fines of $2,000 up to $10,000.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon Other Than a Firearm (Penal Code 245)
An assault with a deadly weapon also known as aggravated assault upon another person other than with a firearm with the intent to produce great bodily harm is a felony in California with penalties of up to four years in state prison and fines up to $10,000. A deadly weapon can be any object that is not part of your body such as a knife, a pen, rocks or even your car.
Assault with a Firearm (Penal Code 244)
Only possession of a firearm during the assault is enough cause to increase the penalties for this crime to a $10,000 fine and a 4-year prison sentence.
British actor and comedian Russell Brand met with Los Angeles prosecutors on Wednesday November 17, 2010 regarding his arrest pertaining to an altercation with a photographer at LAX Airport in September 2010. Brand and his wife, singer Katy Perry, were entering Delta Airlines terminal when they were swarmed by paparazzi. Airport video cameras caught Brand swatting at the photographer and hitting his camera. He was facing the possibility of misdemeanor simple battery charges. The City said a prosecutor will also meet with the photographer this week. However, a spokesperson for the City said it was unlikely that they would be filing charges against Brand. Brand was unknown in the United States until 2008 when he hosted the MTV Video Music Awards. He has become famous here since his recent marriage to Katy Perry. He has also starred in the film Get Him to the Greek”. Perry is known for her two hit songs “I Kissed a Girl” and “California Girls”.
This is not the first time that celebrities have gotten into skirmishes at LAX with the paparazzi. City prosecutors charged Kanye West with misdemeanor battery, vandalism and grand theft for breaking a photographer’s flash during an incident at the airport in September 2008. The case was later dismissed after the rapper settled a civil suit and agreed to attend anger management classes.Mike Tyson was also charged in November 2009 for allegedly hitting a photographer at LAX. Prosecutors declined to charge the former boxer because they said they found insufficient evidence.
If you are arrested for assault and battery charges in California, you should hire a California criminal defense attorney to defend you. The attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed to menacing, mistaken identity, self-defense, defense of property or defense of others, no credible threat, false accusations, the victim consented to the assault, or there may be insufficient evidence to charge you.
California considers crimes of arson extremely serious, especially during the fire season. The definition of arson under California Penal Code Section 451 is “the willful and malicious burning of a structure, forest, or land”. If you committed a burglary at the time of the fire, you could also be charged with burglary under Penal Code 459, trespass under Penal Code 602 or first degree murder under Penal Code 187 for the California felony murder rule if someone died in the fire that you intentionally started. Arson laws do not apply when you set your own property on fire, unless you did it with the intent to commit California insurance fraud by collecting money from an insurance company, or you caused injury to another person or to their home, property or land.
Penalties and Sentencing
Sentencing and penalties for California arson crimes vary depending on the following factors:
· Type of conviction- malicious or reckless arson.
· Type of property involved.
· Whether anyone was injured or killed as a result of the fire.
· Your past criminal history.
· Results of psychiatric or psychological evaluations.
Misdemeanor reckless burning (California Penal Code Section 452).
· Information or summary probation, up to one-year county jail time and a fine up to $1,000.
Felony arson or reckless burning (Penal Code 451 or 452).
· Up to 16 months to nine years in a California State Prison and fines up to $50,000 or twice that amount if the crime was for actual or future financial gain and a third strike felony penalty if you have prior felony convictions under the California Three Strikes Law if you were convicted of malicious arson under Penal Code 451.
· Additional and consecutive sentences of one to five years in the California State Prison for either a prior felony conviction for malicious or reckless arson under either Penal Code 451 or 452, or if severe bodily injury occurs to a firefighter, peace officer or other emergency personnel as a result of the fire or you used an accelerating device to start the fire or to delay ignition.
The following aggravating circumstances require that you must register as a convicted California arson offender:
· The fire was in retaliation against the person who you knew or believed owned the building such as a former landlord who may have evicted you.
· You intentionally set fire to a building or structure you knew was a place of worship.
· Prior arson convictions within ten years or if the damage or losses were in excess of $5,650,000 or you damaged five or more inhabited structures. You also face a California State Prison sentence of 10 years to life without the possibility of probation.
· Murder, whether intentional or unintentional under the California felony murder rule during an arson that was committed intentionally is considered a first degree murder charge in California with a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
· You possessed, manufactured or disposed of flammable or combustible materials or a device in connection with arson or attempted arson.
The length of time you must register depends on factors such as whether you were an adult at the time of the conviction and when you were convicted. Failing to register is a misdemeanor charge with a six month to one-year sentence in the county jail.
A series of fires broke out on Friday November 12, 2010 near the Paiute Cultural Center, Brockman and Diaz lanes, Peoples’ Park behind the J Diamond Mobile Home Park, and also on Saturday November 13, 2010. One fire started around 7:30 p.m. in the trees and heavy brush off See Vee Lane on the Bishop Indian Reservation and a second fire erupted three hours later in the same area. California investigators from the Inyo Sheriff’s Department, Bishop Police and California Highway Patrol, with the assistance of Cal Fire and Bishop Fire, were able to narrow down three suspects and make arrests. The three suspects, teenage boys, Thomas Stone, 18, Jared Manga, 18 and a 16-year-old juvenile were arrested three days later on November 15, 2010 for arson and conspiracy for setting the fires. According to investigators, these fires could have caused a large amount of damage and potential loss of life had it not been for the quick responses by Bishop Fire and investigators, which helped avoid any tragedies. Bail for Stone and Manga was set at $250,000.
Arson investigations require sophisticated and trained police units and teams with expertise in chemical analysis and forensic evidence who are able to determine the cause and origin of the fire. K-9 dogs are also used to determine the presence of ignitable liquids such as gasoline, charcoal lighter, lighter fluid, paint thinner, kerosene and others at the scene and on people or clothing. Since the majority of arson crimes do not involve witnesses, the investigators must be able to link the evidence of the fire to the arsonist in order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction.
If you have been arrested for arson in California, it is crucial that you hire a California criminal defense attorney to defend you. California arson laws are very strict and have harsh and severe punishments and penalties. The attorney can argue defenses such accident without intent, insufficient evidence, mistaken identity; you were falsely accused or wrongfully arrested. The attorney works with expert arson witnesses who can explain to the judge or jury whether or not there was evidence at the scene of the fire that indicates an arson took place such as flammable liquids or melted copper wiring. If you are have been convicted of an arson requiring registration as a California convicted arson, you may be eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation. The attorney can assist you with this process or help you with obtaining an expungement under California penal Code 1203.4 so that you do not have to register as a convicted arson offender.
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