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What Are the Most Common Crimes in California?

What Are the Most Common Crimes in California?

The sensationalization of crime in mainstream media can be misleading when figuring out what crimes are committed in different areas of the state. Bigger, more out-of-the-ordinary crimes – like large heists or extravagant scandals – are typically what is used as a front-page story. However, these crimes are not indicative of the normal range of crime that exists on a day-to-day basis. Although not as openly discussed, the true extent of common crimes in California goes beyond those covered by the news, and putting these into perspective can help take the stigma away from certain convictions or charges.

What Kinds of Crimes are More Common Than Others?

Certain larger crimes, such as murder, are typically committed less frequently than smaller, more petty crimes, like theft, but tend to take the focus away from these smaller crimes due to the shock value attached to these stories. For example, a triple homicide case is more than likely going to be front-page news when compared to petty shoplifting or trespassing by teenagers in a local park. Despite these differences, the way that these crimes are presented makes a difference when considering sentencing and convictions.

What Is Proposition 47?

Proposition 47, also known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, is a law passed by the state legislature that downgrades certain crimes from being automatic felony charges to misdemeanors. The crimes covered by Proposition 47 are all common crimes throughout California and are committed on somewhat of a daily basis. The scope of the crime, however, as well as its impact on others involved, is the driving force behind whether or not Proposition 47 applies to these offenses.

As long as the infraction was nonviolent, and the resulting damages fall under a certain set of restrictions, Proposition 47 helps lower the penalty for more petty crimes that do not hold the same weight as larger felonies. For example, if convicted of drug possession, and the amount of narcotics in your possession is under a certain threshold, you may be given only a misdemeanor instead of a felony depending on the substance and weight.

Most Common Crimes in Southern California

Regardless of what crimes are publicized for the news, a certain subset of smaller, more common crimes still exists throughout the area. Crime frequency, especially in more densely populated areas, is a reality of our world, but should not be fear-inducing, especially because some of the most common crimes are all petty crimes or low-level misdemeanors. In Southern California, the most common crimes committed include:

  • DUI: DUIs, or driving while under the influence, are the most common crime committed throughout Southern California. Depending on the severity of the charge, as well as the number of other people involved in the incident, these charges can range in severity. For example, a second or third-round DUI conviction will warrant a higher penalty and more jail time when compared to a first-time DUI conviction. In terms of other people, if the individual getting the DUI causes any physical harm to any others, those damages can be added on as an extra penalty.
  • Possession: Drug possession, especially concerning personal use, is a very common crime committed throughout California. Typically used to incarcerate people with small amounts of marijuana, possession charges have changed due to the passing of Proposition 47, which lessens the penalty for the personal use of certain narcotics, treating them as misdemeanors and not escalating them to felonies if found to be under a certain amount. Instead, prosecution for larger amounts of drugs or drugs packaged for sale is typically targeted in these arrests.
  • Theft: Depending on the amount of money stolen or the severity of the crime, theft charges are typically not as widely reported and pursued by law enforcement. Petty theft and smaller shoplifting cases comprise a majority of theft crimes seen daily, resulting in low-level charges, fines, and jail time. Proposition 47 also affects theft-related crimes, especially shoplifting, making any shoplifting incident with a total item value of less than $950 a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Grand theft is also outlined in Proposition 47, and the highest value for stolen property applicable under the statute is also $950.
  • Assault: Depending on the kind of assault that takes place, the penalty for the crime can change and adjust based on severity. For example, simple assault crimes, like hitting, punching, or general fighting, are typically charged as misdemeanors rather than felonies. Aggravated assault, which usually involves more damage, either temporary or permanent or with possible weapon use, can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony based on the extent of the damage caused by the incident.
  • Trespassing: Trespassing may seem harmless, but in certain situations, this can be the start of a serious criminal conviction. Tied to burglary, which is trespassing in any building with a plan to commit a felony or larceny, trespassing is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor. For domestic violence cases, especially those with restraining orders or protection orders, trespassing can be the resulting charge for breaking these agreements, which overall changes the resulting charges as well.

Although fairly common, these crimes are not to be taken lightly and can still warrant fines and jail time. Depending on the crime, as well as the extent of the damages as a result of that crime, the sentencing can range from simple fines to jail time. If accused of one of these crimes, it’s important to know what the penalties for different crimes may be as well as whether or not these crimes are considered a misdemeanor or felony.

Legal Help for Criminal Matters

Finding the right legal team to help prepare your defense and encourage lighter sentencing, especially with crimes that have stipulations relating to Proposition 47 and its implications, is essential. Securing a proper legal team is the best way to prepare for any criminal trial. Regardless of the crime, the Law Office of James E. Silverstein in Calabasas can review your case and prepare your defense, helping you get back on track after a conviction. Contact one of our attorneys today to begin your defense.


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CALL 747-230-4468