Criminal Law

California Criminal Law

Attorney Richard M. Oberto is a seasoned practitioner of California criminal law. He has represented clients in criminal defense and DUI defense in Fresno, the San Joaquin Valley, and around the State. He has taken over thirty combined criminal and civil trials to jury verdict in the Superior Court of California. The civil cases that Mr. Oberto took to jury verdict involved special types of proceedings that were considered to have criminal implications. He has brought cases to trial and conducted contested hearings before a wide variety of Judges of the Superior Court. Likewise, he has presented cases against a wide variety of Deputy District Attorneys. His knowledge of the state court system helps him to devise the optimal defense strategy for clients.

Felonies and Misdemeanors

Crimes under California law are organized into felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are typically regarded as more serious and present the potential for harsher sentencing and stricter supervision. Felony sentencing in California has undergone important changes in recent years. Although felonies tend to carry longer sentences, many misdemeanors carry significant penalties, including lengthy jail sentences, large fines, and serious personal and professional consequences. DUI’s under Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) and 23152(b) are charged as misdemeanors unless the defendant has certain prior convictions that elevate the offenses to felonies.

Crimes, Enhancements, and Sentencing Factors

California law defines a wide variety of crimes, enhancements, and sentencing factors. Each crime under California law is defined by a set of elements. The elements describe the act and mental state that must be established to prove a crime. The act that must be proven is called the actus reus. The mental state that must be proven is called the mens rea. The prosecution always has the burden of proving the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove a single element beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury must find the defendant not guilty of the crime.

In addition to defining crimes, California law also defines a variety of enhancements and sentencing factors that can be alleged to increase the punishment for a crime. The enhancements and sentencing factors under California law can be based on the alleged offense and can be based on a defendant’s alleged status. An allegation of excessive blood alcohol content in a DUI case is an example of an enhancement based on an alleged offense. An allegation of a prior DUI conviction is an example of an enhancement based on a defendant’s alleged status. Enhancements and sentencing factors are usually subject to the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defense Strategies Based on Procedural and Substantive Law

Criminal procedural law and substantive law both provide useful areas for defense strategy. Criminal procedural law commonly refers to the rules governing law enforcement investigations. Criminal substantive law commonly refers to the rules that define crimes and defenses. A criminal defense attorney should take care to tailor his defense strategy to the specific facts and circumstances of a case.

Issues of criminal procedure frequently arise in cases involving search and seizure, eyewitness identification, and law enforcement interrogations, but can arise in other circumstances as well. Violations of criminal procedure sometimes can render evidence inadmissible. Even when evidence remains admissible, a violation of criminal procedure in some cases may affect the value of the evidence in the eyes of the jury. A defense attorney usually raises an issue of criminal procedure by preparing a pre-trial motion and filing it with the Superior Court.

The substantive criminal law defines the elements of proof the prosecutor must prove at trial. By studying the elements of proof and comparing the evidence, the defense attorney can identify where the prosecutor has failed to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. There may be insufficient proof that the defendant committed the act in question or there may be insufficient proof that the defendant acted with the required mental state. There may have been circumstances that render the act non-criminal. The object of the defense attorney is to present the issues clearly and faithfully so that he may assist the judge or jury in seeing that the evidence does not measure up.

The best time to contact a criminal defense attorney is as soon as possible. Mr. Oberto can provide peace of mind, expert guidance, and a way forward. He has a track record of achieving the best results in the most difficult circumstances.

Mr. Oberto welcomes people to contact him 24/7 at (559) 221-2557 to request an initial consultation. Se habla Español.

People also may contact Mr. Oberto to request an initial consultation using the contact form available on this website. Please do not use the contact form to write down sensitive information. Information communicated over the internet, including through this website, may not be considered confidential or privileged.

Contact Us