The Los Angeles city attorney's office has revised its filing guidelines, and as part of the process, 91 violations that were classified as misdemeanors are now considered infractions.
On July 25, commanding officers of the LAPD received an internal memo detailing the changes from the city attorney. The list of former criminal charges includes violations such as camping on the beach, driving without a license, and using fake identification to buy alcohol.
As misdemeanors, the crimes were punishable by jail time and entered into criminal records. Now with the reclassification to infractions, violators will be ticketed and may be fined, pending review by the attorney's office.
The massive restructuring is an attempt by newly seated city attorney Mike Feuer to create a more efficient system, and save taxpayer dollars that would have been spent on arrests and prosecutions. A spokesman for the attorney's office told CBS News that the listed offenses were typically downgraded to infractions anyway, once the charges had been reviewed.
Other California cities, such as San Diego and Sacramento, have implemented similar changes to filing guidelines in the past, with no detrimental effect to public safety—a primary goal for classifying violations.
Because infractions are not included in police department statistics that track crimes—which are typically classified as misdemeanors or felonies—the guideline change should help to reduce the overall crime rate in Los Angeles. However, Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese of the LAPD stated to CBS, offenders who commit these infractions will not be excused from responsibility. Civil penalties will remain in place, and an officer can request to have an infraction prosecuted as a misdemeanor, if there are extenuating circumstances.
Other offenses that are now classified as infractions in Los Angeles include gambling, drinking or defecating in public, trespassing, purchasing or possessing alcohol as a minor, and failure to vaccinate your dog for rabies.
Vitaly Sigal, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, provides an aggressive defense representation for people who have been charged with misdemeanors and other crimes. To discuss the details of your criminal case with Mr. Sigal, contact our office today.