Crimes (A-J)Understanding the Offense
When arrested anywhere in the United States, it is important to realize that there is a constitutionally based, 2 part process, which must occur before the arrestee can be convicted of a criminal offense.
First, pursuant to the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution, the arrestee, who has the right to be free from illegal search and seizure (and, therefore, arrest), must be informed of the crime he is accused of having committed. In almost all state cases, the person arrested will be accused of violating a particular section of either the Penal, Vehicle, Health & Safety, or in rare cases, the Business & Professions Code. In Federal cases the allegation is always that the accused violated a specific section of the United States Code.
In either case, the ‘Codes’ are not necessarily specific, nor clear in their language. Probably the best way to view them is as the broad and often vague tool used by he government to gain jurisdiction over your liberty until the accusations against you are resolved.
Some of the code sections used to invoke accusations of common crimes are listed here for your review. If you’re confused as to why a certain code section even applies to your particular conduct, an experienced criminal defense attorney will have no difficulty in determining whether the code section under which you’ve been charged does, or does not legally apply to you.
The second part of the process which must occur before you can be convicted of a crime is that the government (DA, City Attorney, or Assistant United States Attorney) must prove that you have committed each and every ‘element’ of the crime charged. The ‘elements’ of the crime are often obscurely hidden in the various code sections, but they are usually spelled out with great specificity in the Jury Instructions.
Consequently, most experienced criminal trial attorneys refer to the Jury Instructions, rather than the code sections, as the Law.
Along with the sample ‘Code’ sections, towards the end of each page on the ‘drop down’ menu of sample crimes, we have also inserted the Jury Instructions which apply to each of those offenses. Keep in mind, the government must prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’, to a Jury, that the accused committed every act and had the required state of mind at the time of those acts, in order for the accused to be convicted.