Violent Crimes Defense

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Violent Crimes Defense Attorneys

For 3 decades, the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Sitkoff & Hanrahan, LLP have specialized in defending charges of violent crimes throughout Southern California. Therefore, we possess the necessary violent crimes defense experience you need from your criminal attorney to ensure your case is fought on an even playing field. Violent crimes in Los Angeles are investigated and prosecuted aggressively by police and prosecutors, and the penalties and consequences are significant. Also, your criminal sentencing can be further enhanced if you are alleged to have committed a violent crime involving a firearm or a violent crime resulting in serious or great bodily injury (GBI).

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys Eugene Hanrahan and Stephen Sitkoff have a combined 70 plus years of criminal law experience in Los Angeles and Southern California. Mr. Hanrahan is a former senior Los Angeles County deputy district attorney and federal prosecutor. Mr. Sitkoff is a former senior LA County prosecutor and former Superior Court Commissioner. Their combined criminal law experience and expertise places our firm among the most experienced Los Angeles criminal defense teams in Southern California. Call our West LA office now at (888) 579-4844 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you.


Defined under California Penal Code section 187(a), Murder is described as the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought or your intent or state of mind. Murder in the first degree is punishable by up to life in California State Prison without the possibility of parole, if you are charged with first-degree murder with special circumstances, you face the death penalty. Murder in the second degree is punishable by 15 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole. However, second-degree murder with special circumstances, such as a prior murder conviction, use of a firearm, or the victim being a peace officer could result in further enhanced terms of sentencing. In addition, unintentional acts, such as Felony DUI causing death to another could be elevated to 2nd-degree murder, or “Watson Murder” if you have prior DUI or Wet Reckless convictions.

In Los Angeles, the violent crime of manslaughter is the killing of another human being without malice aforethought. Prosecuted as either “voluntary,” “involuntary,” or “vehicular” manslaughter under 3 separate subdivisions of California Penal Code 193, voluntary manslaughter under PC 193(a) is punishable by up to 11 years in California State Prison, whereas involuntary manslaughter under PC 193(b) is punishable by up to 4 years in California State Prison. As a “wobbler” offense, vehicular manslaughter can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. Therefore, as a misdemeanor, vehicular manslaughter in Los Angeles carries up to 1 year in LA County Jail, whereas felony vehicular manslaughter carries up to 6 years in California State Prison. Although manslaughter is viewed as a lesser charge and commonly used to plead down murder charges, special circumstance enhancements can be applied to manslaughter charges, which can further enhance your penalties and consequences.

Under PC 240, assault is described as the unlawful attempt to inflict injury or harm upon another. Inflicting injury, harm, or even making physical contact is not an element of assault. Therefore, you can be arrested and charged with assault even without touching the alleged victim. Simply attempting to strike another person without actual contact is considered assault. Under PC 240 as a misdemeanor, an assault in Los Angeles is punishable by up to 1 year in LA County Jail. However, you may face harsher sentencing if there are aggravating circumstances in your case, such as the use of a weapon or firearm, which would then allow prosecutors to elevate your charge to a felony aggravated assault or felony assault with a deadly weapon.

Aggravated assault encompasses a broad range of more specific offense. Also commonly referred to as assault with a deadly weapon, the 3 most common aggravated assault charges we have successfully defended in Los Angeles are assault with a deadly weapon or instrumentassault with a firearm, and assault likely to cause great bodily injury. Aggravated assault under California Penal Code 245(a)1 is described as assaulting another person with a deadly weapon or instrument not considered a firearm, whereas an assault with a deadly weapon considered a firearm would be prosecuted under a more serious California Penal Code statute, PC 245(a)2.  PC 245(a)1 and PC 245(a)2 are California “wobbler” offenses. Therefore, you can either be prosecuted for a felony or misdemeanor. Assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury is prosecuted under PC 245(a)(4), and it too, as “wobbler,” can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. You face up to 4 years in California State Prison for a felony, or up to 1 year in Los Angeles County Jail for a misdemeanor, if charged with either one of these aggravated assault offenses.

Described under California Penal Code section 242, battery is defined as the unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. Unlike assault, an element of battery, otherwise known as “simple battery,” is that some form of physical contact must be made. “Some form” of contact also includes spitting on or splashing a drink on another person. Although battery is mostly prosecuted as a misdemeanor violent crime in Los Angeles, it can be charged as a felony if you are accused of causing serious injuries to the alleged victim, in which case you would be charged with felony battery under PC 243(d). The seriousness of the alleged victim’s injuries is not the only factor which can influence the severity of your punishment and specific battery charge you face, as the alleged victim’s relationship to you or whether the alleged victim falls within a protected class can have an influence as well. For example, a battery committed against a peace officer, such as a police officer, firefighter, or process server would result in a charge of battery on a peace officer under PC 243(b). Whereas, a battery allegedly committed upon a person whom you presently or have previously dated, or your spouse or ex-spouse would result in a charge of domestic battery under PC 243(e)1.

Among the most serious violent crimes in Los Angeles, robbery is considered a “straight felony,” meaning it cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor. Furthermore, as a serious or violent felony, robbery is considered a “strikeable” offense under Califonia’s 3 Strikes Law. Defined under California Penal Code statute 211, robbery is described as the felonious taking of personal property of another from his or her person, or immediate presence, and against his or her will, by means of force or threat of violence. Robbery is prosecuted aggressively in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, the punishment can vary in severity depending on whether you are accused of using a firearm to commit “armed” robbery or without a firearm to “strong arm” robbery. Furthermore, your punishment can be further enhanced if you are accused of committing a robbery in concert with 2 or more codefendants in an inhabited dwelling or residence, otherwise known as “home invasion” robbery.

If you have been arrested or identified as a suspect in a violent crimes investigation in Los Angeles, it is in your best long-term interests to consult with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to educate yourself on what your defense options are and how to prepare to defend yourself. We have successfully defended clients charged with felony and misdemeanor violent crimes in LA and Southern California for 3 decades, achieved our track record of success by relentlessly advocating for our clients using our unmatched criminal law experience, resources, and relationships with local judges and prosecutors. Call our West Los Angeles office now at (888) 579-4844 for a free case analysis to learn what your options are and how we can help you achieve your goals.

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