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Criminal Process and Crimes Involving the Police in California

The police may not always follow the law which could put innocent people at risk of getting put in jail for something they didn't do. There are constitutional protections in place to help people whose rights have been violated. An experienced criminal defense attorney will use the facts of the case and the law to mount a strong defense for their clients.

The criminal process can be complicated, especially for people who have never had experience with the criminal justice system. The real-life court system is not quite like it is shown in courtroom dramas and movies. For more information on the criminal process and police-related crimes, see the following pages:

Probable Cause

Probable cause is the requirement that police have sufficient facts and circumstances before them that would lead a reasonable person to believe a person has committed a crime, in order to make an arrest.

Search and Seizure

No police officer, investigator, or other official has the automatic authority to search you or your home without a warrant or justifiable cause or reason. When a law enforcement official conducts a search without a court-issued search warrant or without justifiable cause, any evidence found during the search will be deemed inadmissible in court and thrown out.

Attempted Crimes

In criminal law, an attempt is defined as the combined intent to commit a crime and substantial actions taken in the effort to complete it. The charge applies in cases where the crime did not ultimately occur, but there is evidence of intent and conduct toward completing it. The penalties can be the same as if the individual had completed the crime.

Perjury

Perjury is the offense of giving false information to the court or authorities while under oath. Perjury can be charged as a felony, resulting in prison time and fines.

Bench Warrants

A bench warrant is the most common arrest warrant issued in the state of California. It is generally not issued for suspicion of a criminal activity. Instead, it is issued by a judge, "from the bench." If you fail to appear for a court appearance, the court can issue a bench warrant which allows a police officer to your home or place of business to arrest you.

Bench warrants often involve a failure to adhere to the terms and conditions of a pre-existing offense. Such terms include probation provisions, court attendance, fine payment, or compliance with a court order.

Probation Violations

After an individual violates the terms and conditions of the probation, a judge will decide the appropriate penalty for violating probation. In many cases, the individual on probation will be sentenced to the penalties that you would have faced if the judge did not offer probation as an alternative. Penalties can include jail time, fines, community service, along with extended probation and driver's license suspension.

Diversion Programs

Some individuals may be able to avoid jail by agreeing to participate in a diversion program. It is important to understand that not every defendant will be eligible to participate in a diversion program. The court will look at whether you have had any prior offenses as well as look at the type of crime that has been committed. Diversion programs are common for simple drug possession cases and first-time defendants.

Evading Police

Under California Vehicle Code 2800.1(a), “any person who, while operating a motor vehicle and with the intent to evade, willfully flees or otherwise attempts to elude a pursuing peace officer's motor vehicle, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year.” The felony charge of 2800.2 can result in state prison jail terms.

Resisting Arrest

Anyone who "resists," "delays," or otherwise "obstructs" an officer or EMT in the course of his or her duties can be charged with resisting arrest. Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor, punishable under California Penal Code 148(a)(1). Many people are charged with resisting arrest even if they feel like they did nothing wrong. Talk to your lawyer about defenses to resisting arrest charges. Depending on the circumstances, resisting arrest can also be charged as a felony resulting in more severe punishment.

Impersonating a Police Officer

The primary element the prosecutor must prove in order to convict you on a charge of impersonating an officer is to show your intent to do so. For example, dressing up as a police officer on Halloween may not be a crime. However, if the individual used their costume to try and threaten someone with a ticket, they may be guilty of impersonating a police officer.

Under California Penal Code 538d PC, impersonation of a police officer is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. However, selling fake badges or other related items may carry more serious penalties.

East Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer

The police and prosecutors will try and make you feel guilty even if you did nothing wrong. By calling an experienced criminal defense attorney, you will have someone on your side to fight for you and defend your rights. With more than 30 years of criminal defense experience, Lynn Gorelick understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success. If you are facing criminal charges anywhere in Contra Costa County or Alameda County, contact us today.

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