Under California’s laws, misdemeanors are crimes punishable by up to one year in local or county jail. More serious crimes (felonies) are punishable by death or imprisonment in state prison. (Cal. Pen. Code §§ 16, 17.) For more information on felonies in California, see California Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
In most states, lawmakers designate crimes by class (such as a “Class 1 misdemeanor”) and fix punishment for each class. California’s laws fix punishment on a crime-by-crime basis. If no punishment is fixed in the statute, that offense can be punished by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. (Cal. Pen. Code § 19.)
Prostitution is an example of a misdemeanor in California, punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1000, or both. For more information on this crime, see Prostitution Laws in California.
Assault or battery against a health care provider is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. For more information on assault and battery penalties, see California Assault and Battery Laws.
Statute of Limitations
Almost all crimes have a time limit, called the statute of limitations, by which the state must begin criminal prosecution or the defendant can have the case dismissed. Many states have one statute of limitations for felonies and another for misdemeanors. California’s lawmakers set the statutes of limitations on a crime-by-crime basis and there are many variations.
For more information, see California Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
If you are charged with any crime in California, including a misdemeanor, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney about your case. California’s criminal laws are complicated and the best way to avoid a conviction and obtain the best possible outcome is to work with an experienced attorney. An attorney can tell you what to expect in court and help you present the strongest defense.