Driving crimes occur in various ways. The crimes include Hit and run, carjacking, Vehicular manslaughter, Evading an officer, Driving without a valid license, and driving on a suspended license. If the court charges you with a felony or misdemeanor driving crime in Anaheim, you will face severe penalties based on the nature of the crime and your prior conviction.
In addition, your driving license will be in danger and face extended jail terms, heavy fines, mandatory classes, probation, and a criminal record. But the good news is the law still allows you to fight the charges with the help of your criminal defense attorney. The attorney will help you gather sufficient evidence and build a solid defense to fight the charges.
At California Criminal Lawyer Group, our lawyers have deep experience in handling a wide range of driving crimes and are familiar with the working of California courts. Our attorneys have helped countless people seeking to fight the driving crimes charges. Thus don’t hesitate to contact us immediately after your arrest.
What California Driving Crimes Involve
In California, driving crime is considered a misdemeanor or felony offense punishable with heavy fines and long jail terms. Most driving crimes lead to suspension of your driving license and harm your professional driving records. That’s why you want to seek legal help from an aggressive criminal defense attorney. Our attorneys from California Criminal Lawyer Group are ready to assist you with all charges involving driving crimes. The following are the common driving crimes in Anaheim:
Hit and Run, VC 20002
Hit and Run is a common driving crime in California. When you’re involved in any form of accident, the law requires you to observe three things to do. First, stop your car immediately after the crash. Secondly, produce your personal information with the involved party; and lastly, share your license registration information. If you’re driving another person's vehicle, provide their details and current addresses. Perform all these duties if you believe you were not responsible for the crash. The duties will remain the same regardless of the kind of damages and the accident scene location.
Under VC 20002, hit and run accidents occur when you cause an accident, the accident causes severe injuries and damages to the victims. Upon causing the accident, you willingly flee without talking to the police. Many drivers involved in hit-and-run accidents in California aim to evade responsibility and justice for their negligent behavior. Once you stop after the accident but fail to provide your identification details to the involved drivers or police, it’s critical to know that you will still face hit and run conviction.
However, if you flee and return to the accident site, the prosecutor will file your charge depending on your past criminal records. Before you face conviction, the prosecution team will prove you engaged in the accident and intentionally attempted to run away. Also, the prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime before you face conviction:
- You were involved in an auto accident.
- You knew about the accident.
- You knew another person apart from your passengers were injured in the accident or even lost their lives.
- You intentionally didn’t complete any of the following duties:
- Stop immediately after the accident.
- Share your personal information, license registration number, or your current addresses to the alleged victims of the accident.
- You did not call the local police to arrive at the accident scene.
- You didn’t provide reasonable help to the injured victims.
Penalties for Felony Hit and Run Accidents
When you face a hit-and-run conviction, you will face harsh penalties like informal probation, jail for at least six months, compensation for the alleged victim’s properties, and pay a fine not exceeding $1,000. But with the help of your criminal defense attorney, the law allows you to fight the charges. The penalties for hit and run accidents vary based on the nature of the sustained damages and injuries or whether the accident caused deaths. When the accident leads to injuries, the charge is classified as a wobble. Thus you will face misdemeanor charges or even felony charges.
If the court considers the crime a misdemeanor, the suffered injuries were minor like stiff neck, soft tissue, and light whiplash. Alternatively, if the accident leads to permanent or severe injuries, the court considers it a felony. The penalties include:
Can I Defend a Hit and Run Charge?
The laws allow you to use several defenses to fight your hit-and-run charges. But, you first want to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you throughout the legal process. Fighting the criminal charge without the help of a criminal attorney will minimize your chances of winning the case. If you were the only injured victim in the accident, you would not face charges, according to California VC 20001. Also, the following defenses will help you fight the charges:
The Damaged Property was Yours
You may argue the damaged property was yours to fight the charges. For example, you were operating your car and collided with a track. Thus your vehicle was destroyed entirely while the track remained intact. Similarly, when you hit somebody else's property, and the property is undamaged, the court should not charge you for the crime.
Lack of Knowledge
The intent is a critical aspect before you face conviction for a hit and run crime. Your criminal defense attorney may argue you are unaware of the accident and thus you did not flee the scene. However, you only need to provide evidence and proof you did know you had caused an accident. Therefore the court may drop or dismiss your case.
Carjacking, California PC 215
According to California laws, carjacking is a criminal offense. In most cases, the offense occurs when you steal a motor vehicle. Also, the crime involves taking another person’s car using threats or force. But to face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove you used force or threats to cause physical injuries to the alleged victim. The carjacking victim may either be the passengers or driver, regardless of whether they are the car owners. When you face conviction for the crime, it's recommended you seek legal help from a competent criminal defense attorney. The earlier you seek legal help, the higher the chances of winning your case.
What are The Possible Penalties for Carjacking in California?
Carjacking crime is outlined under California PC 215. If you face a crime for the crime, you will face a felony charge with probation and long jail terms. Also, the penalties will include nine years in a jail facility. Note, your sentence may increase when your case met the following element:
If the victims sustained significant body injuries during the carjacking offense, you would face additional 3 or 6 years in your sentence term.
You Used a Firearm/Gun
If the defendant used a gun when executing the carjacking, the charges would be higher than using the gun. Thus, they will spend either 10, 20, or 25 years in jail.
A Gang-Related Offense
In California, lawmakers are aggressive in reducing any gang-related crime. Thus if the court finds you guilty of the crime, you will face a mandatory 15 years in jail. The carjacking charge might be severe. Also, a conviction for the crime is considered a strike under the state’s law. So again, it will require you to serve around 85% of your jail time before parole. But remember, as a defendant for the crime, you always have an opportunity to build a strong defense and secure a not guilty verdict for the charges to reduce to a less serious one.
Potential Defenses to Carjacking
As discussed above, a carjacking conviction carries severe penalties and long jail times. But the good news is you may work with a criminal defense attorney to fight the charges. The attorney will collect sufficient evidence and build a solid defense to challenge the prosecution. The defenses may include:
You did not Use Fear, Threats, or Force
The defendant’s use of fear and force is critical in a carjacking crime. When the prosecutor cannot prove the elements of the crime, then the court will not find you guilty of the offense. But, if you take the car without consent, the court will find you guilty of a less severe crime.
Another essential defense to fight a driving crime charge is mistaken identity. In most carjacking offenses, accurate identification becomes challenging due to the case's stressful and fast pace. Your criminal defense attorney may provide evidence to prove it was a mistaken identity. Thus, the court will drop the charges.
If you consent from the alleged victim to take their car, you will not face conviction for the crime. When you provide evidence to challenge the prosecutor's evidence, the court will reduce or drop the charges.
Driving Without a Legal License
Driving in California without a valid license is an offense. The crime is outlined under VC 12500. Every driver driving on a California Highway must have a valid license. But the law exempts a few people, including government officers operating government vehicles, farming tractors, visitors aged above 18 years, or even non-residents of California transporting hazardous items from different states or Canada. Note, there's a difference between driving without a license and driving with a suspended license. The offense is a misdemeanor.
Before you face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove you were driving without a valid license, you were on a California highway or street, or the law had required you to obtain a lawful California license. It doesn't matter whether the DMV issues the license. Thus you will not face charges when the license is issued by a different state or the vehicle you’re possessing. The court requires the prosecution team to prove all elements before you face the criminal conviction.
Many cases involving vehicle licenses occur when the driver fails to obtain a license or renew their license on the stipulated time. Remember, even when you have the legal license but refuse to provide it when traffic police order, you will face conviction under VC 12951. The court considers the crime as a misdemeanor and attracts a fine not exceeding $250.
The crime is punishable with a jail term of up to six months in county jail; you will also pay a fine not exceeding $1,000. If the traffic police did not arrest you at a California highway or moved from another state within 20 days, the court might dismiss the charges. Again, if you obtain a valid license before the court holds a hearing, you may still fight the charges with the help of your criminal defense attorney. Remember to work with an aggressive and skilled attorney for the best outcomes of your case.
Driving With a California Suspended License
It's illegal to drive with a suspended license in California. The law is outlined under VC 14601. The punishment for driving with a suspended license varies, starting from why your license was suspended. The crime carries heavy fines, an extra license suspension period, and lengthy jail terms. The court may suspend your license due to DUI conviction, refusal to submit for a chemical test, violation of traffic rules, and when you have mental or physical disabilities, making it unsafe to drive.
Before you face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove the elements of the crime. The prosecutor must prove you knew about the license suspension. If the prosecution team cannot prove your license suspension, you will not face the conviction.
If your license suspension resulted from reckless driving, you would pay a fine not exceeding $1,000. You will also remain behind bars for up to 6 months. Lastly, suppose the suspension was a result of a DUI conviction. In that case, you will pay a fine of $1,000, and the court will order a mandatory installation of an ignition interlock machine in your vehicle. But the penalties may vary when you have other aggravating factors.
The Legal Defenses for Driving On a Restricted License
As mentioned above, before you face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove the elements of the crime. Also, the law allows you to work closely with your criminal defense attorney to fight the charges. Suppose you don't have a criminal defense attorney. In that case, our attorneys at Anaheim Criminal Attorney are well versed with the possible causes of license suspension, thus giving us the advantage to fight your charge. Our attorney may argue:
You Were Driving on a California Restricted License
Sometimes the court may allow you to drive your car under restricted privileges even when your license is suspended. For instance, the court might allow you to drive legally to school, work or medical appointments. Thus if you were driving for valid purposes, you would not face conviction for driving under a suspended license.
Lack of Knowledge
Lack of knowledge might be another strong evidence to fight the charge. Based on the facts surrounding the case, you may argue you lacked knowledge because:
- The notice was improper.
- The notice had the wrong address.
The prosecution team and the police must respect your rights regardless of the alleged crime. Thus if the law enforcement officers lacked probable cause when pulling you over or violated your Miranda rights, the court may dismiss the case. Discuss with your criminal defense attorney about everything that occurred during your arrest so they may build the defense based on the evidence.
Evading an Officer – PC 2800.1
No one wants the police officers to pull them over. If you haven’t engaged in criminal activity, it might be a great inconvenience. Also, you might be terrified of the law enforcement's false allegations of harassment. If you suspect the police will discover marijuana or alcohol in your car, you might try to avoid criminal charges by avoiding them.
But, when you notice the police officers are flashing lights, the best thing to do is, pull over politely and find out why the officers are avoiding you. You might be surprised to learn that the officers want to notify you about your taillight. However, if you make a conclusion about the officers, you might do illegal actions like overspeeding or even disobeying traffic laws.
Example of Evading a Law Enforcement Officer
Jane is speeding through her neighbourhood when she sees a police officer with their vehicle flashing red light to pull over. Instead of pulling over, she proceeds to speed and even runs over a red light. Thus Jane will face conviction for evading a police officer. Under California laws, it’s a crime to try to evade a pursuing law enforcement officer as long as their vehicle siren and lights are on and the officers are wearing their distinctive uniform to identify them.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove in Evading an Officer Charge
It's important to note an arrest for evading a law enforcement officer will not always result in your conviction. The prosecution team must prove the following elements before the court for you to face convection:
- You intentionally wanted to evade the officer
- You saw the law enforcement officers flash the light
- The officers flashed at least one red light at their vehicle front
- The officer's car sounded the necessary siren for you to pull over
- The law enforcement officers were on their full distinctive uniforms
To evade a law enforcement officer is considered a misdemeanor crime punishable with:
- A fine not exceeding $1,000.
- Your vehicle impoundment for one month
- A jail term for one year in county jail
The penalties may be harsher when you drive carelessly while trying to flee the law enforcement officers. But, you may still fight the charge with the help of a competent criminal defense attorney. The police must have at least one red light on for you to see, the siren should also have more sound, and the law enforcement officers must be in their official uniform. Thus if the persuading police officers did not meet all these conditions, the court should dismiss your case.
Can I Fight Evading an Officer Charge in California?
The penalties and punishment for evading an officer may be heavy. However, you may still fight the charges. A skilled criminal defense attorney may use a variety of defenses to help you fight the charges. The possible defenses include:
No Intent to Evade the Officer
The intent is the critical aspect when it comes to proving to evade an officer charge. An aggressive criminal defense attorney may prove you lacked the intent to evade the law enforcement officers. The attorney may argue you acted so out of fear, and you were not sure it was the law enforcement officers.
A competent criminal defense attorney may claim insufficient evidence from the prosecution team to support the case. For instance, the attorney may argue the law enforcement officers were not easily identified since they did not have their usual uniforms.
Improper Police Stop
The attorney may challenge the law enforcement officer’s behavior when they try to pull you over at an intersection. Thus the officers did not follow the traffic rules like red lights or sirens. So you didn’t know whether you were supposed to pull over.
If you were under the influence of alcohol, you might use a voluntary intoxication strategy to challenge the charge. Note evading shows you had a certain intent. Thus when you were too intoxicated, the attorney may argue you didn’t have the mental ability to evade the officers. The only risk with this defense is you may face driving while intoxicated charges.
Find a Anaheim Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
In Anaheim, CA, Violating driving rules is a crime that will hinder your driving privileges, something you can avoid. If the law enforcement officers arrest you over a driving crime, you want to seek legal help from your criminal defense attorney. Remember, driving crimes carry heavy fines and long jail terms in California. For the best-case outcome, preferably, you go for a skilled criminal defense attorney.
At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we possess the necessary skills to build a solid defense to maximize the chances of fighting your charges. We also provide top-tier legal advice to make a difference in your case. For a free case consultation and evaluation, call our competent attorney at 714-766-0965 right away.