Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Since we're in Las Vegas, let's talk about Enhancements!

I had a great photo picked out for this space, but the boss said "no"

This is a Family Blog!

Let's talk about enhancements in the legal sense. And no, it won't be as much fun as the other kind. 

There are crimes and there are enhancements to crimes. Enhancements are extenuating circumstances surrounding the commission of a crime that can give the prosecution more ways to "throw the book at you". 

There are many examples of enhancements. A few of the more common ones are:
  • Using a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime
  • Causing Substantial Bodily Harm to another person
  • Committing a crime if you're a known gang member
  • Committing a crime when the victim is a vulnerable person or is over the age of 60.
What do all those mean? Allow me to explain. 

- Walking up to someone and demanding their money could liberally be construed as a robbery, especially if the person assumes that they will be harmed in some way if they don't comply, but walking up to someone with a gun or a knife or an ax in your hand and making the same verbal demand means that you have committed that crime while using a deadly weapon, and that's an immediate enhancement. 

- Assault is basically you threatening to use unlawful force or violence against someone else. Grabbing someone by the shirt and making a fist could be assault if the victim believes they're about to get punched. This scenario would be misdemeanor assault, but do the same thing except you have a knife in your hand? You've just committed a felony, sir. Enhancements! It's now going to go to court as "Assault with deadly weapon", not just 'assault'. This also goes for battery as well. If you get into a fight with someone and you punch them in the face or the stomach, you're probably only guilty of misdemeanor battery, but if you hit someone with a brick or a beer bottle you may find yourself on the receiving end of "Battery with Deadly Weapon" felony charges! 

What about this "Victim over 60 / Vulnerable Person" stuff? 

I got your "Vulnerable" right here, sonny!

If someone commits a crime against a person (e.g. assault, battery, robbery, kidnapping, coercion, domestic violence, etc.), and that person is over the age of 60, that person could be in for some extra prison time due to the victim's age. It's an automatic enhancement that the District Attorney's office will add whenever a victim fits this criteria. 

A Vulnerable person is defined by law as: a person 18 years of age or older who:

(a) Suffers from a condition of physical or mental incapacitation because of a developmental disability, organic brain damage or mental illness; or
(b) Has one or more physical or mental limitations that restrict the ability of the person to perform the normal activities of daily living.

What is "Substantial Bodily Harm"?

Simply speaking, this is when a fight or a battery goes way too far. Let's say Fred and Barney get into a fight. Barney's mad at something Fred said after one beer too many and Barney knocks Fred to the ground and punches him. If it stops here, this is just a misdemeanor crime. However, if Barney continues to pummel poor Fred until Fred's jaw and ribs are broken and he's missing some teeth, then there's a good chance that Barney will get charged with "Battery causing Substantial Bodily Harm". 

Since most people don't sit around reading law textbooks all day, I like to try and illustrate in real-world terms just how quickly something you may think of as being "minor" can turn ugly. If you find yourself in a situation where you've been or are about to be accused of a crime, even if you think it's something silly, you need legal representation. We are more than happy to help you, call us today!


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