Pursuing equal protection for all people.

Types of Cases

Criminal Cases

A criminal case is a lawsuit brought by the state against a person who has broken a criminal law.  They are usually filed by the district attorney (also called the "DA"), which represents the state, against one or more defendants.  Only the state, not another person or company, can bring criminal charges against you. The penalty for being found guilty of a crime is jail or prison time or a fine (or both). 

Criminal cases are separated into three main categories:

  • Infractions (like traffic tickets), which are minor violations and, usually, the punishment is having to pay a fine.
  • Misdemeanors (like shoplifting), which are more serious crimes that can be punished by up to one year in jail and/or fines up to $1,000.
  • Felonies (like murder), which are the most serious kinds of crime. If you are found guilty, you can go to state prison for more than a year, and in the most serious cases, get the death penalty.

Because of the serious consequences of a guilty verdict, defendants in criminal cases have a number of constitutional rights, like the right to a court-appointed lawyer if they cannot afford one, the right to remain silent, the protection from unreasonable searches, and the right to a jury of their peers.

In criminal cases, the defendant is presumed innocent. The prosecutor (the DA) must prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And to convict a defendant, the jury must be unanimous, so all 12 jurors must agree on the verdict. Click for more information about criminal cases.

Common Criminal Charges

Drug Possession

"Drug possession is the crime of having one or more illegal drugs in one's possession, either for personal use, distribution, sale or otherwise. Illegal drugs fall into different categories and sentences vary depending on the amount, type of drug, circumstances, and jurisdiction."



"Under California law, DUI means either:

  • driving while “under the influence” of ­alcohol and/or drugs (legal or illegal), or
  • driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or greater—0.05% or greater, for people under 21 years old (VC § 23140)."

Domestic Violence

"The state identifies domestic violence when an individual commits a criminal act within one of the types of relationships specified by the California Penal Code: spouse or former spouse; cohabitant or former cohabitant in a home; a parent with whom the individual has a child; or a partner in a dating relationship."


"California law defines theft as the unlawful taking of someone else's property. Theft can take on many forms depending on the type of property taken as it can involve:

  • Personal property;
  • Money;
  • Real property; or
  • The value of labor or services" 

All Other Criminal Charges:

Aiding and Abetting/Accessory, Arson, Aggravated Assault / Battery Attempt, Bribery, Burglary, Child Abandonment, Child Abuse, Child Pornography, Computer Crime, Conspiracy, Credit / Debit Card Fraud, Criminal Contempt of Court, Cyber Bullying, Disorderly Conduct, Disturbing the Peace, Domestic Violence, Drug Manufacturing and Cultivation, Drug Trafficking / Distribution, Embezzlement, Extortion, Forgery, Fraud, Harassment, Hate Crimes, Homicide, Indecent Exposure, Identity Theft, Insurance Fraud, Kidnapping, Manslaughter: Involuntary, Manslaughter: Voluntary, Medical Marijuana, MIP: A Minor in Possession, Money Laundering, Murder: First-degree, Murder: Second-degree, Open Container Law, Perjury, Probation Violation, Prostitution, Public Intoxication, Pyramid Schemes, Racketeering / RICO, Rape, Robbery, Securities Fraud, Sexual Assault, Shoplifting, Solicitation, Stalking, Statutory Rape, Tax Evasion / Fraud, Telemarketing Fraud, Vandalism, White Collar Crimes, Wire Fraud.

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