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  1. Theft Crimes in California

    According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were over 21,000 arrests for robbery and 55,000 arrests for burglary in California in 2009. Theft is a broad category of California law that affects all citizens.

    Types of theft crimes

    While criminal defense lawyers throughout California understand the clear distinctions between theft crimes, many members of the general public do not. The following are differences between theft, burglary, and robbery:

    • Theft. Theft occurs when something is taken from its owner with the intent to deprive them of it. Auto theft, burglary, robbery, shoplifting, and fraud are all theft crimes, among others. Penalties vary with the crime.
    • Burglary. Burglary involves entering a structure with the intent to steal property and to commit a felony or other crime. Charges of breaking and entering can be added to burglary even if entry onto the premises was not forced. Although burglary penalties vary with the seriousness of the crime, conviction on felony burglary, such as home invasion, can lead to six years in prison.
    • Robbery. Also a theft crime, robbery is taking property from a person, or their immediate environment, through force or threat. Conviction on armed robbery—using a weapon or firearm—can enhance the six to nine year sentence of a robbery conviction by one to three years.

    Skilled legal help makes a difference for burglary charges

    A good defense on theft charges of any kind involves experienced legal help. If a theft case does go to trial, defenses including the following might be used:

    • Mistaken intent or fact
    • Mistaken identity or false arrest
    • Innocence

    If facing theft charges of any kind, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer for help.

    Contact us

    With over 30 years experience, the San Mateo criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of K. J. Petsas, PC aggressively defend clients facing felony, misdemeanor, drunk driving, and domestic violence charges — in San Francisco, San Mateo, and throughout the San Francisco Bay area. If you are charged with a crime, contact us today at 650-624-8155. Our offices are located at 1475 Huntington Avenue, Suite 205, South San Francisco, CA 94080.

    Continue reading "Theft Crimes in California"

  2. Understanding Homicide in California

    Homicide includes murder and manslaughter

    The unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus with malice of forethought–Definition of murder, California Penal Code Section 187

    In a 2011 report, the California Office of the Legislative Analyst notes the California crime rate has declined each year since 2003. While this is good news, the same report points out the California rate of violent crime such as murder, rape, and assault, remains higher than average for the United States.

    According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 121,369 people were arrested on violent crime charges in California in 2009. Conviction on first-degree murder charges can result in the death penalty, whereas conviction on involuntary manslaughter may result in a prison sentence of two to four years. Because the consequences of these crimes is so serious, defending the rights of people accused of these crimes is best done by experienced criminal defense attorneys.

    The different kinds of homicide charges

    Homicide is the category of crime that includes murder and manslaughter. Other distinctions among homicide charges in California include the following:

    • First-degree murder is killing through use of a destructive or explosive device, lying in wait, inflicting torture, or taking a life in the process of another felony crime.
    • Capitol murder with special circumstances is also punishable by the death penalty or life in prison without parole and includes several types of murder including killing for financial gain, killing a police officer, and murdering more than one victim
    • Manslaughter includes voluntary, involuntary, and vehicular manslaughter. Penalties depend on circumstances of the death.

    Seasoned legal help with felony charges in California

    Among other arguments, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may use the following defenses in a homicide case:

    • Self-defense
    • Accident
    • Insanity
    • Mistaken identity
    • Improperly obtained confession, or evidence

    Being convicted of taking a life can result in the loss of life or liberty. If arrested on homicide charges, your first call should be to a good criminal defense attorney.

    Contact us

    A San Mateo criminal lawyer at the Law Offices of K. J. Petsas, PC, will bring unique skill to their defense of clients charged with felonies, misdemeanors, and other crime in San Francisco, San Mateo, and throughout the San Francisco Bay area. If you are charged with a crime, or if you believe you are under suspicion, contact us today at 650-624-8155. Our offices are located at 1475 Huntington Avenue, Suite 205, South San Francisco, CA 94080.

    Continue reading "Understanding Homicide in California"

  3. Understanding California Spousal Support

    When a couple divorces in California, state law mandates that community property be divided 50-50. When it comes to spousal support, however, the court has far more discretion in determining if any support will be awarded, how much will be awarded, and the time frame over which it will be paid.

    Some factors the court considers

    The factors the court will consider in determining spousal support, are set in the California Family Code, and include:

    • Standard of living during the marriage and the extent to which each can earn enough to sustain that standard
    • Needs of each spouse
    • Impact on the earning capacity of a spouse due to suspending his or her career to care for children and domestic responsibilities
    • Contributions of one spouse to the education, training, and career of the other
    • Ability of the supporting spouse to pay support
    • Assets and liabilities of each spouse
    • Length of the marriage
    • Impact that employment will have on the children if the supported spouse has custody
    • The age and health of the parties
    • Any immediate tax consequences

    The judge will also consider any other factors deemed just and equitable, and any documented instances of domestic violence or other crimes.

    In California, if the marriage lasted less than 10 years, the judge will set the duration of support for no more than half the length of the marriage. For longer marriages, spousal support can last a lifetime. Your attorney can file to change the terms of support if circumstances change, such as if the supported spouse marries or begins to live with someone.

    The question of spousal support can ignite furious fights. The greatest mistake people make is to surrender their rights and entitlements because they just want it to end. Retain an attorney ready to fight for you because it is your future standard of living that is at stake.

    Contact us

    The San Mateo divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of K. J. Petsas, PC, offer the experience and attentive counsel you need when dealing with a high asset divorce—and other difficult family law issues in San Francisco, San Mateo, and throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Our offices are located at 1475 Huntington Avenue, Suite 205, South San Francisco, CA 94080, 650-624-8155.

    Continue reading "Understanding California Spousal Support"

  4. Insult to Injury

    Attorneys help accident victims deal with insurance companies

    Being injured in an automobile, truck, or other vehicle accident is bad enough. Your health, livelihood, and future may be on the line. Having trouble working with an insurance company can make an already difficult situation untenable.

    What happens when your claim is not moving along, or you receive a settlement offer far below what you need for recovery? You may have lost wages from your injury, or have no transportation. How do you get help dealing with people who are supposed to be helping you?

    Bad faith insurance company tactics in California

    Every insurance contract is assumed to be made in good faith. Good faith means fair dealing with good intent. You pay insurance premiums in good faith and expect fair treatment if you need help in a crises.

    When payment or assistance with an insurance claim is delayed, an insurance company may be dealing in bad faith. Types of bad faith insurance practices often seen by personal injury attorneys include the following:

    • Failure to investigate a claim in a thorough and timely manner
    • Claiming that the accident is not covered under a policy, when it actually is
    • Concealing facts about a claim or about additional benefits available under the policy
    • Delaying payment, offering a clearly inadequate settlement, or refusing to pay

    Legal help for injury claims in San Mateo, San Francisco, and the Bay Area

    When you are injured or have an auto accident in California, it is important to understand your rights. If your case is not handled reasonably or it is clear you are being treated inappropriately, contact an attorney experienced with personal injury law. A good lawyer can help in the following ways:

    • Investigate the facts of a claim and discuss what to expect from negotiation and litigation
    • Negotiate with the insurance company to resolve issues equitably or move the case to court
    • Provide advice on appropriate compensation for an injury and assess any bad faith damages that may be recoverable

    Being injured hurts. But bad faith dealings by insurance companies are not only insulting—they add to damages already experienced. If an insurance company is stonewalling you, retain experienced legal counsel to get your case and your life moving forward.

    Contact us

    Providing a unique combination of aggressive legal representation and strategic case analysis, the San Mateo personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of K. J. Petsas, PC, offer clients a 30-year record of successfully handling injury claims for clients in San Francisco, San Mateo, and throughout the San Francisco Bay area. If you are injured in an auto or other accident or are pursuing an insurance claim, contact us to schedule a free, initial consultation to discuss your case at 650-624-8155. Our offices are located at 1475 Huntington Avenue, Suite 205, South San Francisco, CA 94080.

    Continue reading "Insult to Injury"

  5. Protecting Your Children from Collateral Divorce Damage

    The unraveling of a marriage can be one of the most difficult and painful experiences of a lifetime. That is particularly true for the children, who are at risk of becoming innocent casualties. In fact, the groundbreaking research of Dr. Thomas Holmes and Dr. Richard Rahe shows that divorce can have an even harder impact on children than adults.

    If, however, you keep the best interests of your children at the forefront, you can make the difficult process easier for them and provide for their needs.

    Some issues to keep in mind during your divorce

    Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Do not let the process go on longer than necessary. Retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible to represent your interests in the difficult issues of child and spousal support, custody, visitation, and property division. The sooner you settle these issues, the sooner healing and stability can begin for you and your children.
    • Children will often believe it is their fault. Reassure them that the problems are between you and your spouse, and are not their fault. Let them know that you and your spouse will always love them. Repeat it often.
    • Comfort your children. Your children will worry about uncertainties. Who is going to take care of them? Will they have to move and go to a new school? Talk to them about their fears.
    • If it becomes a financial battle, let your attorney fight it. You must protect and provide for the welfare of your children. The outcome will determine the standard of living your family enjoys.
    • Leave anger, guilt, blame, fear, or other painful emotions at the office of your attorney. Avoid yelling at your spouse in front of your children. Do not speak badly of your spouse to your children.
    • Circumstances can change. If your situation changes after the divorce due to the unexpected (illness, job loss, unforeseen expenses, increase in salary, inheritance), your attorney can file to have your child support agreement enforced or modified.

    As difficult as the divorce process may be for parents, the one thing that matters most is that both remember to put the welfare of their children first.

    Contact us

    The San Mateo divorce lawyers of the Law Offices of K. J. Petsas, PC, offer the experience and attentive counsel you need when dealing with a high asset divorce—and other difficult family law issues— in San Francisco, San Mateo, and throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Our offices are located at 1475 Huntington Avenue, Suite 205, South San Francisco, CA 94080, 650-624-8155.

    Continue reading "Protecting Your Children from Collateral Divorce Damage"

Petsas & Stephens is located in South San Francisco, CA and serves clients in and around South San Francisco, Daly City, Brisbane, San Bruno, Pacifica, Millbrae, Burlingame, San Mateo, Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada, Alameda, Belmont, San Carlos, Emeryville, Oakland, Sausalito, San Leandro, Berkeley, San Lorenzo, Albany, Alameda County, Marin County, San Francisco County, San Mateo County.

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