Felony vs. Misdemeanor
Know the Difference

In California a felony is a serious offense such as an assault & battery with bodily harm, domestic violence, murder, rape, kidnapping, certain sexual offenses, and other violent crimes.  Felonies are punishable by a jail term in excess of one year.

A misdemeanor in California is a less serious crime carrying with it possible jail time of less than one year and/or a fine of up to $1 000 plus penalties and assessments. Although generally considered minor, a California misdemeanor should be taken seriously because, if convicted, it results in your having a criminal record.

Misdemeanor Facts:

  • A misdemeanor will likely show up on a background check
  • Being accused of a misdemeanor or convicted of one can have devastating effects in the life of the accused
  • In some cases, a misdemeanor can be raised to the level of a felony

Elevating Misdemeanors to Felonies
Under certain circumstances, a misdemeanor may be charged as a felony, depending on the following factors, including:

  • The seriousness of the crime
  • Injuries to the victim
  • The defendant’s prior criminal record

In addition, when certain prior criminal offenses exist on the defendant’s record at the time of misdemeanor arrest, the chances of having the current offense elevated to a felony are much greater.

Criminal offenses that increase the risk of having your misdemeanor elevated to a felony, include:

  • Petty Theft / Shoplifting
  • Domestic Violence
  • Violation of a Domestic Violence Order
  • Drunk Driving (DUI / DWI) with 3 prior charges in 10 years
  • Indecent Exposure
  • Loaded Firearm in a Public Place
  • Receipt of Stolen Property

Misdemeanor Sentencing and Punishment

For misdemeanor charges, the range of California sentencing may include jail time, probationfines, and/or community service.  A skilled criminal defense attorney can assist in an alternative or reduced sentence for the defendant.

Misdemeanor Penalties

  • Probation -
    • With Jail Time - In some cases jail time may be served under House Arrest or Work Project
    • Without Jail Time – For less severe offenses, probation may be given without any jail time
  • Community Service
  • Counseling or supervised anger management classes
  • Restitution - The court may order financial compensation to the victim by the defendant
  • Fines - Fines vary from $200 to $2 000 in court-ordered fines
  • Stay-Away Orders – The court may order the defendant to have no contact with certain persons and locations

For misdemeanor crimes, an experienced California criminal defense lawyer can make the difference between going to jail and staying out of jail.

If you have been notified by the prosecutor’s office that you are being charged with a misdemeanor, contact The Law Offices of Brianne Doyle immediately to discuss your case. The right criminal defense attorney matters.