Law Offices of Kenneth H. Lewis
Defending Clients for Over 35 Years
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Ken Lewis has the experience you need, including arguing cases before the California Supreme Court. Don’t try to “self-diagnose” the situation; bring in an expert to help understand what you’re up against. If you’re facing criminal charges don’t hesitate to contact an experienced criminal lawyer.
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Building Code Violations

Building Code Violations can ultimately result in criminal charges if the city does not believe someone has complied with the codes after having been given a reasonable opportunity to do so. This is often a "last resort" on the part of the city for persons and corporations that it believes have been recalcitrant in complying with the applicable code requirements. Cities vary in their frequency of resorting to criminal charges. The City of Los Angeles has, for example, a special section in the City Attorney's Office whose attorneys specialize in prosecuting building code violations.

Examples of Prosecutable Building Code Violations:

  • Landlords whose buildings are not considered "habitable", e.g.
  • Faulty plumbing that is not repaired
  • Electrical that is not safe
  • Vermin infestations
  • Dangerous mold
  • Fire hazards

Who Prosecutes Building Code Violation Cases?

Usually it is a City Attorney, but if it is very serious the District Attorney can prosecute if it is a felony. Most Building Code Violations are "infractions" (like a ticket) or simple misdemeanors. The City of Los Angeles has a special division that prosecutes so-called "slumlords". These are building owners who habitually refuse to repair their properties and make their tenants live in terrible conditions. The City Attorney has even sought, and received, jail sentences for the most outrageous landlords, or has required the landlord to live in one of their buildings to see what it is like.

What Are Some of the Penalties?

Typically fines are involved and the defendant is ordered to bring the building up to code and keep it up to code as part of their probation. Should they fail to do so, they can be charged with a "probation violation" and be subject to increased penalties, including jail.

Why Do I Need an Attorney?

Often a good attorney can negotiate a settlement with the City Attorney whereby the building code violations are corrected and the criminal charges are dismissed or mitigated. A good attorney can reduce or eliminate any jail sentence and work to see that the City Attorney is mollified. Of course, if the case is defensible, i.e., no code violations occurred, a good attorney can defend the case in court and help acquit the client.

What If I Receive a Criminal Citation or Misdemeanor Charge?

Do not speak to the police, building inspectors or City Attorney without an experienced attorney present. These officials are not your friends in these situations and any statements that you might think are "exculpatory", i.e. that show your innocence, can later be twisted to appear incriminating. After hiring an experienced attorney, gather all your documentary evidence so that they can thoroughly evaluate your case. Any statements you make to your attorney are protected by the attorney-client privilege.


Because Ken Lewis has successfully handled numerous Building Code Violation cases. He understands the ins and outs of negotiating with the City Attorney and Building Department officials. He knows how to try and resolve the issues without the necessity of any type of incarceration and he knows how to try and win a case if there is a viable defense. He will fight for you.

Kenneth H. Lewis is one of the relatively few lawyers to have argued a case before the California Supreme Court, People v. Leon. He is admitted before all the courts in California, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, the United States Tax Court and the United States Supreme Court, where he appeared at counsel's table in the case of California vs. Rooney.