There are varying categories of crimes in California. Stalking, threats, and harassment are the type of criminal offenses that include invasion of one’s privacy. Charges of stalking, threats, harassment, hate crime, invasion of privacy, revenge porn, or extortion can be serious enough to require legal consult from a San Diego defense lawyer.
Stalking, Threats, & Harassment Crimes in California Explained
It is always important for you to understand the basics in relation to a crime for which you have been charged. While you will never know everything, it is a start to having some understanding of what you are facing. At McElfresh Law, we are San Diego criminal defense lawyers with valuable experience advocating for those charged with the following offenses:
- Hate Crime – In many instances, a hate crime is a categorization that is placed on a particular crime. For example, an incident involving the assault of an individual becomes a hate crime if the victim was targeted because of a particular disability, gender, nationality, race, religion, or sexual orientation. However, the offense can be a stand-alone crime. In the latter case, the offense is filed as a misdemeanor, and in the former it is classified as a wobbler – can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. The penalties will include probation, jail time and fines. Felonious hate crimes will carry higher prison time and in cases where the hate crime is a classification, penalties at sentencing will be enhanced.
- Extortion – Popularly referred to as blackmail, extortion is a serious crime under California Penal Code. It involves the use of force or threat to obtain money, property, or favor from another. There are many and varying instances outside of our general understanding of extortion that is covered by the law. It is also clear that extortion is no petty crime as it is classified as a felony. Attempted extortion and the making of any false document used in an extortion is a misdemeanor. As a felony, you could be facing up to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Attempted extortion carries a similar sentencing with a lower fine. But of extreme importance is the fact that extortion is one of those offenses that will be classified as a strike on your record.
- Stalking – The criminal law seeks to prohibit consistent behaviors that instill fear in others. So it is with the offense of stalking. It is a willful or malicious intent to repeatedly harass or follow a victim, make threats, and leave the said victim in fear. In most cases, if you are charged with stalking, the matter can proceed as a misdemeanor or as a felony as the offense is classified as a wobbler. However, it is strictly a felony if you are found to be in violation of a protective order, or there is a previous stalking conviction. Penalties will vary, but will include jail time, probation, fines, and the imposition of a restraining order. Of importance, a felony stalking conviction can lead to mental hospital confinement and registration as a sex offender.
- Criminal Threat – Some threats can be idle, but when they become criminal, that is a whole different ball game. To make it criminal behavior, the threat must be in relation to causing physical harm to another that is communicated verbally, in writing, or electronically that has the effect of causing fear. The offense is considered a wobbler under California law and can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. You could face up to one year in prison for a misdemeanor criminal threat and four years for a felony. But even more serious, a criminal threat conviction counts as a strike on your record.
- Invasion of Privacy and Revenge Porn – These two offenses relate to behavior that seeks to violate the privacy of the victim. Commonly referred to as “peeking tom” crimes, the charge of invasion of privacy is a misdemeanor. The crime of revenge porn is new to California, but like an invasion of privacy, it is a misdemeanor that seeks to prohibit the distribution of nude photos or videos of an individual without their consent. Both offenses carry the same penalties with upwards of 6 months of jail time. That time will be increased at sentencing if you are a repeat offender. In relation to revenge porn, sentencing will be enhanced if the victim is a minor.
If you have been charged with any of these crimes, it is vital that you call us at McElfresh Law.
Why Do You Need a San Diego Harassment Lawyer?
One of the biggest mistakes that individuals who are charged with a crime will make is to face the court without a lawyer. It is not even advisable to talk to the police without a lawyer present. Attorneys spend years studying the law and are equipped with in-depth knowledge of the criminal judicial system. It is important to have experienced hands and a voice trained to do the following:
- Pre-Trial Investigation and Preparation – The prosecution is armed with the resources to investigate and prepare a comprehensive case against you. An offense like hate crime includes a great deal of complex law and legal technicalities. It will prove difficult to go up against a well-financed government institution by yourself. An experienced San Diego lawyer who has a record of handling stalking, threats and harassment crimes will have the resources your case will need, to execute the proper pre-trial investigation and preparation.
- Get Charges Dismissed – In cases surrounding stalking, threats, and harassment, there are very specific elements which must be proven in order to satisfy the court that a crime has been committed. In many instances, your actions may not amount to criminal behavior, but one that is more qualified to be the subject of a civil suit. For example, revenge porn is more often pursued as a civil matter and really only made its way into the California criminal law in recent time. A San Diego defense lawyer is able to make such critical analysis and file the necessary motions prior to trial to get your charges dismissed.
- Prepare a Defense – The law dictates that anyone charged with a criminal offense is innocent until proven guilty. While it is the duty of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you stalked, threatened, or harassed the victim, a prudent defendant who is being falsely accused should prepare a defense that will secure a not guilty verdict. For this, you will need to rely on a criminal defense lawyer.
How We Can Help With Your California Harassment Charge
It is important to note, that having a lawyer on your side is more than just proving your innocence. At the forefront of the minds of those charged with stalking, threats, and harassment crimes are the penal consequences. If I am found guilty will I go to jail? Will I have a criminal record? While penalties for each crime will vary, the possibility of jail time is attached to all. However, having a lawyer who is knowledgeable of the numerous sentencing alternatives will make a significant difference if you must plead guilty or you are convicted.
McElfresh Law has been providing high-quality legal representation to many individuals charged with stalking, threats, and harassment related offenses. We are lawyers who have dedicated years of our legal practice to criminal defense litigation and we are ready to be your San Diego defense lawyer of choice. Call for a free consultation today at (858) 756-7107 or contact us through our online form.