What is a violent felony?
California Penal Code section 667.5, subdivision (c) categorizes 23 types of crimes as “violent felonies”. They include:
- Murder, attempted murder, and voluntary manslaughter
- All other felonies punishable by death or life in prison
- Detonation of an explosive to cause death, mayhem, or great bodily injury
- Certain sex crimes (including forced sex acts or sex acts with a minor or dependent, and/or assault with intent to commit a forced sex act)
- Robbery, carjacking, and first-degree burglary (with another person present other than an accomplice)
- Assault of a peace officer with a firearm
- Extortion or criminal threats on behalf of a street gang
- Most (but not all) felonies that result in great bodily harm to a victim
- Possession, use, or production of weapons of mass destruction
This list includes many crimes that would first come to mind when you imagine a violent felony, though there are certain crimes that would meet the description but are not included. Because of this, the category of “violent felony” can best be understood for what it means in terms of sentencing.
How does conviction of a violent felony affect sentencing in California?
Those convicted of crimes classified as violent felonies are often given enhanced sentencing, and prosecutors are much more likely to go with the maximum sentencing possible.
Being convicted of a violent felony also has larger repercussions. One of those repercussions has to do with California’s Three Strikes Law: each conviction of a crime classified as a violent felony counts as a strike under this law.
The other major repercussion has to do with Proposition 57, a law that was passed in 2017 that gives felons serving time in prison an opportunity to be considered for early release. Proposition 57 is closed to all people with violent felony convictions, which would bar those convicted from future eligibility.
What is a serious felony?
In addition to violent felonies, California also has a much larger list of crimes classified as “serious felonies”. The two lists overlap, and many violent felonies are also considered serious felonies. However, the serious felonies list includes crimes that are not necessarily violent, like certain types of drug sales.
How does conviction of a serious felony affect sentencing in California?
The larger repercussions for serious felonies are also different from those of violent felonies. While each conviction of a serious felony also counts as a strike under the Three Strikes Law, those convicted of a serious felony (that is not also a violent felony) are not automatically barred from early parole through Proposition 57.
I have been charged with a serious felony or a violent felony in California. What do I do?
Both violent felonies and serious felonies can be very major, high-stakes charges, and it is absolutely essential to have the right attorney fighting on your behalf. If you or a loved one are facing serious felony or violent felony charges in Tustin, California, Attorney Edward R. Flores is ready to help. Call today for a free consultation on your case.
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