A 21-year-old man was recently arrested for a September robbery after DNA linked him to the crime. This young man, along with an accomplice, is alleged to have robbed an antique store in Huntington Beach, and tied up and beat the store clerk. Investigators found DNA both within the store and on the clerk, which matched the 21 year old, suspect. A warrant for the suspect’s arrest was issued and he was arrested in Long Beach. It was also discovered that this individual has several prior arrests and a prior conviction for robbery.
Formal charges have been filed, which include second-degree robbery, assault with a firearm, criminal threats, false imprisonment and possession of firearm by a felon. In addition, felony enhancements have been added which include 4 additional charges for use of a firearm, and two additional charges for infliction of great bodily harm. Because this defendant has prior convictions, his prison time exposure is increased to additional and consecutive one-year prison terms for each prior.
What does “Felony Enhancements” mean?
In California when someone is being charged with a crime, there are a number of “enhancements” which can result in additional prison time if convicted. As it relates to this case, the enhancements are:
1. Use of a firearm during the commission of a felony – California law states that anytime a firearm is used during the commission of a felony, the prosecution can add an enhancement charge which could result in an additional 10 years to life, for each enhancement.
2. Infliction of Great Bodily Harm – If someone other than the defendant(s), is injured during a robbery, because robbery is a felony, the felony enhancement of great bodily harm can be added, resulting in additional time.
3. Prior felony convictions – When someone has prior felony convictions, prior crime enhancements may be added, which could mean an additional year for each enhancement. For prior violent felonies, the enhancement could mean an additional 5 years for each enhancement.
In this particular case, if convicted, this man will be facing prison time for the initial felonies, 40 years for the use of a firearm enhancements, 10 years for the prior felony conviction enhancements and additional time for the great bodily harm enhancements. As you can see, defending the enhancement charges is just as important as the initial charges themselves. One of the most important goals in a situation like this is to get rid of as many of the enhancements as possible. This is usually done as a plea bargain. The obvious benefit is the reduction in prison time but avoiding a Strike is equally as important. Pleading guilty to an enhancement as a result of a plea bargain may result in a lesser prison term, but in the long run, exposes the defendant to a potential third strike in the future.
Are there defenses to robbery?
Yes, Identification is a way of attacking some of the charges. Were there witnesses who came forward and did the police influence their identifications? Mistaken identity is one of the most common causes of false accusations.
DNA appears to be what is linking this suspect to this particular crime and therefore should be closely looked at by an experienced Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney. Because the crime scene is a business establishment and open to the public, the circumstances under which the defendant’s DNA came to be at the scene needs to be thoroughly investigated.
Another defense might be the possibility of a drug or alcohol addiction that is fueling such risky behavior and needs to be treated. A drug rehab program rather than jail or prison may be an option to present to the Court.
This defendant is currently being charged with 11 Felony Counts. If it is found that the defendant was in fact involved in this crime, an aggressive attorney should focus his attention on dismissing the enhancements and having as many of the charges dropped, reduced or dismissed. The focus should then shift to mitigating his client’s prison or jail time exposure regarding the remaining charges.
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