California Misdemeanor Charges

A California misdemeanor is a crime for which the maximum sentence of confinement is not more than one year. In addition to potential jail sentences, individuals who are accused of misdemeanors may be facing stiff fines, loss of driving privileges, and other criminal penalties.

Although the potential sentence for a misdemeanor is less serious than the sentence for a felony, a misdemeanor conviction may have life-changing consequences. In addition to causing embarrassment and social stigma, any criminal conviction has the potential to affect current or future employment, as well as eligibility for professional licenses.

Some misdemeanor convictions result in the loss of the right to possess a firearm or to travel to foreign countries. Misdemeanor convictions may affect the immigration status of individuals who are not citizens.

Avoiding a conviction should be the first priority of anyone charged with a California misdemeanor. Fortunately, a number of strategies can be implemented to help the accused escape the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction. Some of those strategies, such as seeking a deferred prosecution, involve negotiation.

Others involve filing motions to dismiss or to suppress evidence. When the accused is innocent or when there is a reasonable doubt about guilt, pursuing an acquittal at trial may be the best strategy.

Recognized by OC Metro Magazine as a Top Criminal Defense Lawyer and rated “superb” by a leading attorney rating service, Randy Collins has a long history of helping satisfied clients avoid misdemeanor convictions.

To learn how The Law Offices of Randy Collins can design a misdemeanor defense to meet your needs, call (888) 250-2865. From our offices in Orange and Riverside Counties, we handle misdemeanor accusations in Los Angeles, San Diego, and elsewhere in Southern California.

California Misdemeanor Offenses

Some California crimes, called “wobblers,” can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Prosecutors typically charge them as felonies to increase their bargaining power, but when the facts underlying the accusation are not egregious, they might be charged as misdemeanors. The recent change in California law enacted by Proposition 47 reduced the penalties for many crimes by changing them from wobblers to misdemeanors.

Violent California crimes that are classified as wobblers or misdemeanors include:

  • Battery
  • Child abuse
  • Child endangerment
  • Criminal threats
  • Violation of restraining order

Sex offenses that California classifies as wobblers or misdemeanors include:

  • Prostitution
  • Statutory rape
  • Sexual battery
  • Lewd conduct
  • Indecent exposure

Financial and property crimes are typically classified as California misdemeanors when they do not involve a loss of more than $950 (or $400 in the case of vandalism). Property offenses that might be charged as misdemeanors include:

  • Petty theft
  • Shoplifting
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Vandalism
  • Trespass
  • Embezzlement
  • Misappropriation of public funds
  • Forgery and check fraud

Some drug crimes are misdemeanors, particularly possession of drugs for personal use. Sales or transfers of small amounts of marijuana are also classified as a misdemeanor.

Most driving crimes, including a first, second, or third offense DUI, are misdemeanors if they did not cause serious bodily injury. Other driving misdemeanors include evading an officer, hit-and-run causing property damage, and driving with a suspended license. Misusing a disabled parking permit can also be charged as a misdemeanor.

Misdemeanors in which the public is considered the victim include disorderly conduct, creating or maintaining a public nuisance, contempt of court, and making false statements to the police or other government officials.

Misdemeanor Defenses

Many misdemeanor accusations can be resolved without a trial or a conviction. Deferred prosecutions may be available for individuals who have no criminal record, resulting in a dismissal of charges if the accused stays out of trouble.

Misdemeanor charges can be dismissed for other reasons, as well, including mistakes made by the police that can be exploited to prevent evidence from being used against the accused. A defense strategy tailored to your case begins by exploring options to get the charge dismissed.

When the accused is innocent or when reasonable doubt can be established, it might be best to seek an acquittal in a jury trial. When the prosecution relies on witnesses whose lies can be exposed or when there is an innocent explanation for evidence that suggests guilt, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can often persuade a jury to return a “not guilty” verdict.

When a misdemeanor conviction is inevitable, it is often possible to avoid the harshest consequences of a criminal conviction. Summary (or “informal”) probation might be a negotiated resolution, followed by expungement of the conviction.

Southern California Misdemeanor Defense Lawyer

The defense option that is best for you depends on your desires and on the facts of your case. While avoiding a conviction is not realistic in every case, it is always the first goal of an aggressive defense. When that is not possible, the focus shifts to avoiding jail time and minimizing the other consequences of a conviction.

Whether we pursue a dismissal, an acquittal, a deferred prosecution, or a negotiated resolution, we will always make sure that you agree with our defense plan and that you are fully informed of the risks and benefits of alternative strategies.

For honest advice about realistic outcomes in your case and the strategies that will achieve the best result, call The Law Offices of Randy Collins at (888) 250-2865. We defend misdemeanor charges in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Diego County, and elsewhere in Southern California.

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