Misdemeanors are typically considered “minor” crimes; however they should be taken seriously. Being convicted of a misdemeanor can have serious consequences that can drastically affect a person's life. For example, even a misdemeanor charge can carry a maximum punishment of up to a year in jail.
Standard misdemeanors, which include petty theft and being drunk in public, are punishable by up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Aggravated misdemeanors, which include some domestic violence charges, driving on a suspended license and DUI charges, carry maximum jail sentences of up to one year. Aggravated misdemeanors are sometimes also called gross misdemeanors.
It is also important to note that some offenses may also be classified as wobbler offenses, meaning they can either be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies. In these cases, the prosecutor will have the discretion to file the charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts and the case and the person's criminal history.
In California, the following offenses may be considered wobbler crimes (including but not limited to):
- Hate crimes
- Breaking and entering
- Drug crimes
- Weapon possession charges
- Theft or burglary
- Grand theft
- Conspiracy to defraud
- Vehicular manslaughter
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, it is important to hire an experienced attorney right away who can evaluate the details of the case and build a solid defense in your favor. If you are facing a wobbler charge, it is crucial to speak with an attorney right away who will be able to fight to get your charges reduced to a misdemeanor or an infraction, which can help minimize your penalties.
The difference of being convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony is huge. But, in any case, criminal charges can affect your job, your social status, your future education opportunities and more, along with the immediate penalties which may include jail time and a hefty fine.
For your best chances at getting your charges reduced or dropped, contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Vitaly Sigal today.