Misdemeanors are somewhat less serious offenses, at least compared to felonies. Even though misdemeanors tend to be less serious than other crimes, they may still carry jail terms and steep fines. A single misdemeanor offense might not be very intimidating. However, it is not uncommon for defendants to be charged with multiple offenses, and the penalties quickly add up.
Exactly how long you may spend in jail for a misdemeanor offense will vary from case to case. Sentencing is often decided based upon the specific factors surrounding a case. However, in general, a misdemeanor is not punished by more than 6 months in prison or a fine of not more than $1,000. However, certain misdemeanors, known as aggravated misdemeanors, may carry somewhat longer jail terms. Other misdemeanors could be upgraded to felonies.
If you are facing misdemeanor charges, it is critical that you speak to an attorney about your case. Misdemeanors may seem insignificant at first, but multiple misdemeanor charges could add up to a significant stay in jail. You may also risk having your misdemeanors turn into felonies. Call our San Bernardino criminal defense lawyers, at (626) 628-9596 to set up a confidential legal consultation free of charge.
Jail Time for Misdemeanors in Los Angeles
According to § 19 of the California Penal Code, a misdemeanor may be punished by no more than 6 months in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000 (unless another statute says otherwise). More severe misdemeanors, known as gross or aggravated misdemeanors, may be punished by up to 364 days in jail. Details about sentencing requirements for your misdemeanor may be found in the related statute.
Misdemeanors in California are not classified into broad categories that carry specific sentencing rules. Instead, individual misdemeanors may have unique sentencing requirements contained within their respective statutes. If no sentencing requirements are mentioned in a misdemeanor statute, the offense will likely be sentenced to the standard penalty of no more than 6 months in jail.
Jail time for misdemeanor offenses in California may not appear to be a huge deal, but there may be collateral consequences. A misdemeanor may still appear on your criminal history or in a background check by a potential employer. Not only that, but multiple misdemeanor charges can add up to significant jail time if you are convicted. Speak with our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers for more information.
The Difference Between Felonies and Misdemeanors in Los Angeles
According to § 17 of the California Penal Code, a felony is any crime that is punishable by capital punishment (death) or incarceration in the state prison. All other offenses, unless designated otherwise, are misdemeanors. This is an incredibly broad differentiation between these types of offenses. A crime’s punishment is often used to tell if it is a felony or misdemeanor.
In general, felonies are much more serious than misdemeanors and their penalties are determined differently. For felony offenses, penalties are unique to each crime rather than determined by broader categories of felonies. Most felonies include provisions for individual penalties in each felony statute. For example, the felony crime of aggravated assault contains provisions for sentencing in the statute. The sentences for aggravated assault may be unique to that crime. Felonies tend to have potential sentences listed as three different prison terms, a high, middle, and low term. The middle term is ordinarily imposed unless aggravating factors influence the judge to impose the higher term. Similarly, mitigating circumstances may cause the judge to impose the lower term, according to our Fontana criminal defense lawyers.
Misdemeanors, on the other hand, do not usually provide for sentencing this way. Regular misdemeanors cannot exceed a jail term of 6 months and gross misdemeanors cannot exceed 364 days. As long as these ceilings are not breached, the judge may impose a jail term they feel is appropriate. However, keep in mind that some misdemeanors may have mandatory minimum sentencing requirements in their statutes. Call our Long Beach criminal defense lawyers about your misdemeanor charges today.
Enhanced Penalties for Misdemeanors in Los Angeles
Certain offenses in California may be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. These offenses are known as “wobblers.” How a wobbler turns out depends largely on the details of your case and the circumstances of your alleged offense. More serious or heinous factors, like violence or the use of a weapon, may lead to felony charges. However, more mitigating factors, such as the absence of a weapon or a clean criminal record, may lead to misdemeanor charges.
Wobbler offenses are charged at the discretion of prosecutors. If the prosecutor feels the evidence justifies upgrading your misdemeanor to a felony, they can do that. This means you will face much harsher penalties, like years in state prison and much greater fines.
However, we may be able to negotiate with prosecutors and get your wobbler offenses charged as misdemeanors. Plea deal negotiations are common in criminal proceedings and involve the defendant entering a guilty plea in exchange for a reduction in charges. It may be possible to avoid felony charges by agreeing to plead guilty to misdemeanors instead.
Reach Out to Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
If you are facing misdemeanor charges, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Misdemeanors may carry somewhat more lenient penalties, but all criminal charges must be handled with the utmost of care. For a free legal consultation with our Riverside, CA criminal defense lawyers, call Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law, at (626) 628-9596.