When many people think about criminal court cases, they instantly conjure images of murder, drug trafficking, and mobsters laundering money. The media likes to focus on these more “exciting” crimes and sometimes even elevates criminals to celebrity status. Although such high-profile crimes do occur in real life, they do not accurately represent the average day in court for most criminal defense attorneys.
As criminal defense attorneys, our regular circulation of cases is more focused on routine crimes that just about anyone is capable of committing in a moment of misunderstanding or desperation. Most people would never be capable of murdering someone, but almost anyone has the capacity to get distracted and break a traffic law.
This is just one example. In general, we see a lot of cases that stem from people making simple mistakes or a single bad decision with lasting consequences. Very few of our cases ever stem from individuals who maliciously plan and knowingly commit crimes.
Alcoholic beverages and other mind-altering substances have long been a significant part of human culture, and in modern times the same can be said for cars. A person making the poor decision to operate a vehicle after drinking is an unfortunate reality of our society. In fact, DUIs make up the bulk of our criminal defense cases.
In the State of California, DUI is a crime that applies to anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher. For many people, it does not take very many drinks to achieve this blood alcohol level. For a person of about average size and tolerance, around three drinks are all it takes to raise your BAC to an illegal level. Of course, this depends on your body type, hydration level, and what you’ve had to eat. For some people, in some circumstances, just a couple of drinks—or even a single one—can put them over the legal limit.
Because someone can reach an illegal BAC level with so few drinks, many people don’t even realize that they’re above the legal limit when they get behind the wheel of their car. Well-meaning people who would never purposely hurt anyone or commit a crime inadvertently find themselves in a criminal trial because they drove home after having an after-work cocktail.
A lot of criminal cases fall under the umbrella of drug cases. The drugs in these scenarios vary, as does the nature of the crime. Drug possession and drug trafficking are both criminal offenses, and the legal process will depend upon the type of drug, the amount possessed, and if the prosecution can prove an intent to sell or distribute.
It’s important to note that although marijuana is now recreationally legal in California, you can still face cannabis-related drug charges. If you possess over 28.5 grams of marijuana, if you sell it without the proper license to do so, if you administer it to minors, or if you transport it out of state, you can still be charged with a drug crime.
Theft cases are a significant part of our work as well. There are many different types of theft, some of which are more serious than others. Petty theft, or theft of money or items less than $950, is usually categorized as a misdemeanor. However, many other types of theft, including grand theft, burglary, robbery, and armed robbery, can be charged as a felony. This means a criminal case with potentially serious consequences if you lack a solid defense.
Theft and other property crimes are more common than some people realize. They occur in every part of the world and happen for a wide variety of reasons, from greed and envy to boredom and desperation. Because such crimes are so common and varied, theft cases make up a large part of a criminal defense lawyer’s caseload.
Assault and Battery
Unfortunately, violence is fairly prevalent in our society. It is not terribly difficult for an assault and battery situation to arise, whether premeditated or something that occurs in the heat of the moment. Assault describes the threat of violence against another person, while battery means acting out violence against another person. These simple definitions lend themselves to more everyday scenarios than most people realize.
For example, if two people get into a disagreement in a bar and one threatens to punch the other, they’ve technically already committed assault. If they actually follow through and punch the other person, they’ve committed assault and battery. Everyday scenarios like traffic congestion can quickly escalate to violence when bad attitudes and other circumstances are at play. This is why assault and battery charges are so common.
Criminal Defense Tactics
There are many different ways to fight against criminal charges, and there are usually many possible ways for a skilled attorney to approach a case. The arguments will focus entirely on the details of your unique scenario, the circumstances of the event in question, the letter of the law, and whether the charges brought against you hold up to the evidence.
One common tactic is questioning whether the apprehension of the crime was, itself, a lawful act. For example, in DUI cases, a police officer cannot pull a person over without cause. If a DUI is brought forth after an illegal traffic stop, the entire case must be dismissed. This is relatable to the well-known concept of entrapment. If a police officer or other law enforcement official gets information or evidence from you by manipulating you through illegal means, whatever they find cannot be used in a case.
Coercion is another possible criminal defense argument. If you were forced or coerced into committing a crime, your charges must be dismissed or reduced so long as your attorney can prove that you did not commit the crime willingly. This is somewhat similar to using insanity or mental illness as a defense in that you do not deny the commission of the act but argue that the circumstances make it illegal, unethical, or impossible for a court of law to punish you for them. In some scenarios, mental conditions or temporary moments of heightened emotion can make a viable defense in court.
Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re charged with a crime, it’s important that you find a skilled and compassionate attorney to represent you in court. Criminal charges are extremely serious and have the capacity to derail your entire life and future. This is not the time to try to fight your case on your own, nor is it time to try and save money by leaving it in the hands of an overworked public defender. You need a strong, capable attorney if you want to preserve your freedom, assets, and way of life.
It is also important that you feel comfortable speaking to your criminal defense attorney. You must be able to freely tell them what happened, which can be a vulnerable situation depending on your case. If you don’t feel safe talking to your attorney, it’s important that you find a different one. To properly defend you in court, your attorney needs to know the truth.
Discuss Your Case With Exum Law Offices
The team at Exum Law Offices has been fighting criminal cases in Riverside for over 25 years. We understand the unique challenges, feelings, and roadblocks that come with criminal charges. We are here to help you fight for your innocence and be your trusted partner in navigating the legal system. No matter what happened, we know you are more than your mistakes, and our legal experts are here to help you through this difficult time.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us online today.