In California, misdemeanors and felonies are different categories of crimes based on their severity. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes and carry a maximum sentence of up to 12 months in county jail. In contrast, felonies carry a longer prison sentence, ranging from 16 months to life imprisonment in state prison. If you are facing charges of a gun crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony charge, it is crucial to consult with a qualified criminal defense lawyer to help you understand the potential consequences of the charges and develop a strong defense strategy for your case. At the Kosnett Law Firm, our qualified Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid a felony conviction on your record.
What Takes a Gun Crime From a Misdemeanor to a Felony in California?
Without proof and the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the following can upgrade a gun crime from a misdemeanor to a felony:
- Poor Criminal History
Criminal history plays a significant role in classifying a gun crime. If the defendant has prior convictions for violent crimes, the charges for a gun crime are likely to be increased to a felony. Additionally, if the defendant is prohibited from owning a firearm due to a prior conviction, the charges for possessing a weapon can be even more severe.
For example, if a person with a prior conviction for a violent crime is charged with a gun crime, such as possessing a prohibited weapon, the charges can be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. This is because the defendant has a history of violent behavior and is considered a higher risk to society. It is important to note that even if the prior convictions are not directly related to a gun crime, they can still impact the classification of a gun crime.
- Injury or Damage Done
The second factor that can elevate a gun crime from a misdemeanor to a felony is injury or damage to a person or property. In California, the severity of the injury or damage caused during a gun crime can upgrade a misdemeanor to a felony. For instance, if the gun crime causes serious bodily injuries such as broken bones, permanent disfigurement, death, or extreme property damage due to a fire explosion, the individual can have their misdemeanor charge elevated to a felony.
California has specific laws that dictate the severity of a gun crime, such as using a firearm to commit a violent crime or carjacking, which are serious felonies. In addition, specific laws may provide for increased penalties for certain gun crimes if they are committed in certain areas, such as within 1,000 feet of a school or park.
- Victims Involved
The victims’ identity can also impact the elevation of a gun crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. For instance, if the victim of a gun crime is a police officer, the charges are likely to be increased to a felony. This is because the law in California provides additional protection for police officers. The same case applies to children, pregnant women, and elderly or dependent adults, as California Law recognizes these people as vulnerable and may require additional protection.
Mistakes to Avoid When Facing Gun Crime Charges
If you are facing gun crime charges, below are some mistakes to avoid making to increase your chances of seeing a positive outcome from your case.
- Talking to the Police Without an Attorney
The police may ask you questions to gather evidence for the prosecution. Do not speak to the police without an attorney, as anything you say can be used against you in court.
- Talking About Your Case on Social Media
Anything you say about the crime can be used against you in court, including posting about it online.
- Leaving the State
If you are facing gun crime charges in California, it is vital that you avoid leaving the state. Leaving California can result in additional charges, difficulties in your defense, and a loss of credibility when you make it appear as if you are trying to avoid your charges.
Being convicted of a gun crime, be it a misdemeanor or felony, can have far-reaching and unexpected consequences on your life in many ways. It is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in case you are charged with a gun crime to assess your chances of having your charges reduced or dropped.
Are You Facing Gun Crime Charges in California?
If you have been accused of a gun crime, contact a qualified and dedicated Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at the Kosnett Law Firm and book a free consultation today. We will assess your case thoroughly and determine the best way to proceed.