Most misdemeanors carry with them a sentence of either jail time or fines or both. You may be given probation, mandatory treatment or counseling or some other rehabilitative sentence in place of jail time. If you are facing a misdemeanor charge in California you should talk with an attorney about the best way to handle your criminal case.
Misdemeanors in California generally have a maximum punishment of a fine and up to one year of incarceration. Usually, if more than one year is allowable under a criminal sentencing structure, the crime is categorized as a felony due to federal limits on state law for misdemeanor crimes.
What Is a California Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are crimes punishable by up to one year in county jail. Additionally, fines up to $1,000 can be ordered by the court. Common types of misdemeanor offenses in California include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Petty theft;
- Drug possession that does not amount to trafficking; and
- minor domestic disputes, including simple assault charges.
Some crimes that are misdemeanors if first offenses become felonies if they are second or third offenses. The sentencing for second and subsequent offenses is more severe than that of first time offenses. Whatever the reason for your charges, you likely want to protect your freedom and save yourself from being convicted by fighting misdemeanor charges.
Reducing Your Sentence
You can do much to defend yourself and potentially reduce your sentence in a misdemeanor case. The first step is to have your attorney attempt to negotiate a lesser plea with the prosecutor in your case. You may be able to reduce the charges to a mere infraction which may carry fees but no jail sentence. This will depend on how willing the prosecution is to negotiate, whether you have a criminal record and whether you have anything to persuade the prosecution such as information on another case or community service. Discuss the potential for reducing charges with your attorney if you wish to keep your record clean of a misdemeanor.
Getting Legal Advice
An attorney in California who has experience handling criminal misdemeanor cases can help you fight for your freedom and preserve your rights. You can sometimes waive your right to appear in court for misdemeanor charges and have your attorney appear for you. This is great if you need to be at work and the court appearance does not require your involvement.