In the state of California, criminal offenses are divided into two categories:
misdemeanors and felonies. While many people are aware that a felony is more serious than a misdemeanor,
their understanding of the differences between these types of charges
is generally minimal. In reality, depending on whether you have been charged
with a misdemeanor or felony, you could be facing as little as a few months
in jail to several years in prison upon conviction.
Misdemeanors in California
A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by a maximum of one year in
county jail and $1,000 in fines. Examples of misdemeanors include petty
theft, public intoxication, and some first-time
driving under the influence (DUI) offenses. While many other states classify misdemeanors into lettered
subgroups based on severity, California misdemeanors are instead punished
according to guidelines established in the penal code. While some misdemeanors
can bring mild fines and probation, certain others can be escalated to
felony status under aggravated circumstances.
Felonies in California
Felony offenses are much more serious than misdemeanors, carrying at minimum
a one-year term of confinement in a state penitentiary upon conviction.
Certain felony convictions such as first degree murder can carry the possibility
of capital punishment, while others can potentially expose a defendant
to a lifetime prison sentence. Felonies are punished in California at
a judge’s discretion in accordance with a predetermined system of
low, mid, and high sentences.
Felony trials are generally more complex than misdemeanor trials and can
potentially go on for months if not years due to the severity of the offense.
Violent or otherwise serious felony offenses can also cause a person to
receive a “strike” on their criminal record under the state’s
“Three Strikes” sentencing law, which will cause them to face
increased penalties for any subsequent felony convictions. If convicted
of a third “strike,” a defendant will face a minimum 25-years
to life sentence without parole.
Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, one thing remains
certain: you need a powerful advocate on your side to protect your freedom.
At Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich, our high-caliber
Riverside criminal defense lawyers have more than 50 years of combined legal experience and can provide the
unwavering support you need during this frightening experience.
To find out more about what our team of advocates can do for you, fill
out a free case evaluation form or call (951) 687-6003 today.