According to California law, any and all misdemeanors can be penalized by imprisonment for up to 364 days in a county jail. Each misdemeanor will be designated by a specific class in reference to the severity of the crime. Each crime is case by case as well as the terms of the punishment. California misdemeanors can fall into one of 2 basic categories. “Standard” misdemeanors are punishable up to 6 months in jail and/or fines of up to $1000. “Gross” or “aggravated” misdemeanors are punishable up to 364 days in county jail as well as a fine of up to $1000. Each case also falls under the statute of limitations in California. For example, the state is mandated to begin hearings regarding each specific case within a certain amount of time. If the statute of limitations elapses on a specific case, the case cannot be tried and will be dismissed.
Some examples of common standard misdemeanors are as follows:
- Petty theft
- Drug possession
- Indecent exposure (1st offense only)
- Drunk in public
Some examples of common gross/aggravated misdemeanors are as follows:
- DUI (without injury)
- Violation of a restraining order
- Domestic battery
- Driving on a suspended license
California implements a “wobbler” offense, therefore, each case can result in charges more or less serious according to the prosecuting attorney’s discretion. This concept is determined by the charged defendants criminal history as well as the specific facts pertaining to the case. Some common “wobbler” offenses include elder abuse, disturbing the peace, assault with a deadly weapon and brandishing of a weapon.
Another common punishment for California misdemeanors include:
- Paying the victim financial restitution for damages
- Community service (including CAL-TRANS roadside work)
- Counseling and treatment programs
- House arrest
These forms of punishment can last anywhere from up to 1 to 3 years and the defendant must comply or face the consequences of jail time.
Having a misdemeanor in California can stay on a defendant’s permanent record. If the defendant pleads “no contest”, “guilty” or is deemed guilty at the time of trial, the offense will stay on the defendant’s permanent record. The exception to this rule if a successful completion of “California PC 1000 Drug Diversion” or “Prop 36 drug diversion” programs. The charges will then be dismissed and wiped from the record. In order to expunge a record, a defendant must not be on probation or currently being charged with another crime or sentence and must fully complete the programs listed above. In regards to deportation, only misdemeanors that involve firearms, drugs or domestic violence can result in the deportation of a defendant.
For all the listed reasons, it is important to have great attorneys on your side. The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong come equipped with the best lawyers in order to represent and defend the accused on all misdemeanor crime convictions. The talent of the lawyers is apparent due to the sensitive nature of these cases and the special attention each defendant receives throughout this tedious process.