Definition of a Misdemeanor
- A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is less serious than a felony.
- Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine, imprisonment in a county or city jail for up to one year, or both.
- Misdemeanors are typically less serious than felonies, which are punishable by imprisonment in state or federal prison for more than one year.
- Examples of misdemeanors include minor theft, disorderly conduct, simple assault, traffic violations, and some drug offenses.
- A conviction for a misdemeanor can result in significant consequences, such as fines, probation, community service, and a criminal record that can affect employment opportunities, housing options, and more.
- Penalties for misdemeanors can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific offense committed.
Brief history of misdemeanor charges in CA
Misdemeanor charges have been a part of California's criminal justice system for many years. In California, misdemeanors were first defined by statute in 1872, when the state's Penal Code was enacted.
Throughout the years, California has modified its laws to address the various issues surrounding misdemeanors. For example, in 2011, the state passed AB 109, which aimed to reduce the number of inmates in state prisons by shifting the responsibility for certain low-level offenders from state prisons to county jails. This law also created a new category of offenses called "wobblers," which are crimes that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the offense and the offender's criminal history.
In 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, which reclassified certain nonviolent offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. This included offenses such as drug possession, theft, and some forms of forgery. The goal of Proposition 47 was to reduce overcrowding in state prisons, save money, and redirect resources towards prevention and rehabilitation programs.
In 2020, California passed a law that eliminates cash bail for misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies, which means that people charged with these offenses will no longer have to pay bail to be released from jail while awaiting trial. This law is set to take effect in 2022.
Types of Misdemeanor Charges
In California, there are many different types of misdemeanor charges that can be brought against an individual. While the specific charges may vary depending on the circumstances and jurisdiction, here are some common types of misdemeanor charges in California:
Traffic Offenses: Traffic violations such as speeding, running a stop sign or red light, and driving under the influence (DUI) are common misdemeanor charges in California.
Disorderly Conduct: Disorderly conduct is a broad category of offenses that includes behavior such as public intoxication, disturbing the peace, and loitering.
Petty Theft: Petty theft, also known as shoplifting, is the act of stealing items of low value.
Simple Assault: Simple assault is the act of threatening or causing bodily harm to another person without a deadly weapon.
Drug Possession: Possession of certain drugs for personal use, such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine, can be charged as misdemeanors in California.
Domestic Violence: Domestic violence, which includes physical or emotional abuse of a spouse or partner, can be charged as a misdemeanor in California.
Trespassing: Entering or remaining on someone else's property without permission can be charged as a misdemeanor in California.
Definition of Petty Offenses:
- Petty offenses are minor criminal offenses that are less serious than misdemeanors.
- In the United States, petty offenses are usually punishable by a fine or a short period of time in jail, usually less than six months.
Class B Misdemeanors
In California, misdemeanors are divided into three classes: A, B, and C. Class B misdemeanors are considered more serious than Class C misdemeanors but less serious than Class A misdemeanors. Here is some information about Class B misdemeanors in California:
Definition: Class B misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Examples: Some examples of Class B misdemeanors in California include simple assault, first-time DUI offenses, possession of certain controlled substances, and driving on a suspended license.
Consequences: Conviction of a Class B misdemeanor can have serious consequences, including a criminal record that can impact employment opportunities, housing, and other areas of life. Other potential consequences include fines, probation, community service, and mandatory drug or alcohol treatment programs.
Class C Misdemeanors
Definition: Class C misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are punishable by up to 90 days in county jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.
Examples: Some examples of Class C misdemeanors in California include minor traffic offenses, possession of small amounts of marijuana, and simple assault.
Consequences: While Class C misdemeanors are less serious than Class A or Class B misdemeanors, they can still have consequences. A conviction for a Class C misdemeanor can result in a criminal record, fines, and potentially even jail time.
Potential Consequences of Misdemeanor Charges
Misdemeanor charges can have serious consequences that can impact your life for years to come. Here are some potential consequences of misdemeanor charges:
Criminal Record: A conviction for a misdemeanor offense will result in a criminal record, which can impact employment opportunities, housing, and other areas of life.
Fines: Misdemeanor convictions can result in fines, which can be expensive and difficult to pay off.
Probation: A judge may order probation as part of a sentence for a misdemeanor conviction. This can include requirements such as regular check-ins with a probation officer, drug testing, community service, and other restrictions on your behavior.
Jail Time: While misdemeanor offenses are typically punishable by fines and/or short periods of time in jail, some offenses can result in longer jail sentences.
Professional Consequences: Certain misdemeanor convictions, such as those related to drug offenses or theft, can impact professional licensing or certifications, making it difficult to pursue certain careers.
Immigration Consequences: Misdemeanor convictions can have serious consequences for individuals who are not US citizens, potentially leading to deportation or other immigration-related issues.
Personal Consequences: Misdemeanor convictions can also impact personal relationships and social standing, causing embarrassment or shame.
Common California Misdemeanor Crimes
Penal Code 240 – Assault:
- This misdemeanor crime involves an attempt to commit a violent injury on another person.
- The defendant must have the present ability to carry out the attempt for it to be considered assault.
- Assault can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Penal Code 242 – Battery:
- Battery is a misdemeanor crime that involves willfully and unlawfully using force or violence against another person.
- Unlike assault, physical contact is necessary to charge someone with battery.
- Even a minor physical contact, such as a push or slap, can be considered battery.
Penal Code 314 – Indecent Exposure:
- This misdemeanor crime involves exposing one's genitals in public or in a place where other people may be offended or annoyed.
- The intent to sexually gratify oneself or to offend others is not necessary for a charge of indecent exposure.
- Indecent exposure can result in sex offender registration requirements.
Penal Code 484(a) – Petty Theft:
- Petty theft is the theft of property with a value of $950 or less.
- It is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Repeat offenders may face felony charges for petty theft.
Penal Code 459.5 – Shoplifting:
- Shoplifting involves the theft of merchandise from a retail store.
- The value of the stolen property must be $950 or less for it to be considered shoplifting.
- Shoplifting can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the stolen property and the defendant's prior criminal history.
Penal Code 243(e)(1) – Domestic Battery:
- This misdemeanor crime involves the use of force or violence against an intimate partner or family member.
- The defendant must have willfully and unlawfully touched the victim in a harmful or offensive manner.
- Domestic battery is a serious crime and can result in mandatory jail time and a restraining order.
Penal Code 273.6 – Violation of Restraining Order:
- This misdemeanor crime involves violating a court-issued restraining order.
- The defendant must have known about the restraining order and willfully violated its terms.
- Violation of a restraining order can result in jail time, fines, and additional restrictions on the defendant's actions.
Penal Code 415 – Disturbing the Peace:
- Disturbing the peace is a broad misdemeanor crime that covers a range of disruptive behaviors, including loud and unreasonable noise, fighting, and offensive language.
- It can be charged as either an infraction or misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the behavior.
Penal Code 602 - Trespassing:
- Trespassing involves entering someone else's property without their permission.
- It can be charged as a misdemeanor or infraction, depending on the circumstances of the case.
- The penalties for trespassing may include fines, community service, and even jail time.
Penal Code 647 – Disorderly Conduct:
- Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor crime that involves engaging in disruptive behavior in public.
- It can include public intoxication, loitering, or engaging in lewd conduct.
- Disorderly conduct can result in fines, community service, and jail time.
Penal Code 647(b) - Prostitution:
- This misdemeanor crime involves the exchange of sex for money or other compensation.
- Both the solicitor and the person offering the services can be charged with prostitution.
- Prostitution can result in jail time, fines, and mandatory AIDS testing.
Some of the most common California wobbler crimes include:
Penal Code 459 – Second-Degree Burglary: Second-degree burglary occurs when a person enters a building with the intent to commit a felony or theft. This offense is punishable by up to three years in county jail.
Penal Code 245(a)(1) - Assault with a Deadly Weapon: Assault with a deadly weapon occurs when a person uses a weapon or instrument that can cause great bodily injury or death to commit an assault. This offense is punishable by up to four years in state prison.
Penal Code 417 – Brandishing a Weapon: Brandishing a weapon is the act of displaying a weapon in a threatening manner, such as waving a gun in the air during an argument. This offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail.
Penal Code 487 – Grand Theft: Grand theft involves the taking of property valued at $950 or more. This offense is punishable by up to three years in county jail.
Penal Code 503 - Embezzlement: Embezzlement occurs when a person who is entrusted with someone else's property, such as an employee, steals that property. This offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail.
Penal Code 273.5 – Corporal Injury to Spouse: Corporal injury to spouse is domestic violence that results in a visible injury to the victim. This offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail.
Penal Code 368 – Elder Abuse: Elder abuse is the physical or financial abuse of a person who is over 65 years old or dependent on someone else for care. This offense is punishable by up to four years in state prison.
Penal Code 422 – Criminal Threats: Criminal threats occur when a person threatens to kill or harm someone, causing the victim to fear for their safety. This offense is punishable by up to three years in state prison.
Penal Code 243.4 – Sexual Battery: Sexual battery is the non-consensual touching of another person's intimate body parts. This offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail.
These are some of the more serious misdemeanor crimes in California, and individuals accused of these offenses should seek the help of a criminal defense attorney to ensure their rights are protected and they receive a fair trial.
Defending Against Misdemeanor Charges with Law Office of John Campanella
If you are facing misdemeanor charges in California, it is important to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your options and develop a strong defense strategy. The Law Office of John Campanella is a respected criminal defense law firm that has helped many clients successfully defend against misdemeanor charges in California.
Here are some of the ways the Law Office of John Campanella can help you defend against misdemeanor charges:
Investigation: The attorneys at the Law Office of John Campanella will conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. This can include reviewing police reports, witness statements, and other evidence to identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution's case.
Negotiation: The attorneys at the Law Office of John Campanella have extensive experience negotiating with prosecutors to seek reduced charges or alternative sentencing options for clients facing misdemeanor charges.
Trial Strategy: If your case goes to trial, the attorneys at the Law Office of John Campanella will develop a strong trial strategy aimed at convincing a judge or jury of your innocence or mitigating the potential consequences of a conviction.
Communication: The attorneys at the Law Office of John Campanella understand the importance of clear and consistent communication with clients throughout the legal process. They will keep you informed of developments in your case and answer any questions you may have.
Experience: With over 20 years of criminal defense experience, the attorneys at the Law Office of John Campanella have the knowledge and expertise necessary to effectively defend against misdemeanor charges in California.
List of Northern California Counties where John Campanella handles DUI/DWI cases
I handle DUI/DWI, DMV, Felony DUI with injury, vehicular homicide in the following Northern California Counties: Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Nevada, Napa, Solano, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Butte, Marysville/Yuba, Tahoe, San Francisco, Marin and Sierra.
If you are facing misdemeanor charges in California, don't wait to seek legal representation. Contact the Law Office of John Campanella today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your options for defending against these charges.