Misdemeanors vary in severity in California, but they are not classified in the traditional manner (Class A, B, etc.). Different guidelines from the penal code are used by the courts to determine the sentences imposed for various crimes.
A misdemeanor will usually appear on a background check in California. Devastating consequences are usually the result of being charged with or convicted of a misdemeanor. Finally, in many cases, a misdemeanor can be upgraded to a felony.
Increasing a Misdemeanor to a Felony
In California, there is a risk of a misdemeanor being elevated to the severity of a felony in certain circumstances. Domestic violence, petty theft, shoplifting, violating a domestic violence order, indecent exposure, drunk driving with three prior charges within ten years, receiving stolen property, and having a loaded firearm in a public place are among the circumstances.
Punishment and Sentencing for Misdemeanors
California sentencing guidelines for misdemeanor offenses. Probation, jail time, fines, community service, or a combination of two or more of these options may be imposed. In some cases, an attorney may be able to help reduce these charges.
Penalties for Misdemeanors
Probation is a common component of California penalties. When probation includes jail time, a sentence can be served in private jails or under house arrest on weekends. If probation does not include jail time, which is usually the case for less serious offenses, it can be slightly less harmful.
Community service, counseling, CalTrans (physical labor), supervised anger management classes, restitution to a victim, stay-away orders where the accused is not to contact certain people in certain locations, and fines ranging from $200 to $2000 in charges are also penalties.
An attorney may be able to reduce these penalties, and a skilled criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between jail time and a fine.
Misdemeanors in California: Examples
Misdemeanors in California come in all shapes and sizes. Trespassing, driving under the influence (first, second, and third offenses), petty theft, disorderly conduct, shoplifting, obscene matter, receipt for stolen property, probation violations, unlicensed driver, public drunkenness, illegal gambling, violation of restraining orders, solicitation of prostitution, reckless driving, assault and battery with minimal injury, domestic violence, and exhibition of speed are examples.
Expungement of Misdemeanors
Expungement allows a person to legally and truthfully report that he or she has not been convicted of a crime. Misdemeanor expungement in California is only permitted in limited circumstances. An individual must not be currently charged or on probation for any other offense, and the sentence must not include state prison rather than county jail. According to California law PC 1203.4, a misdemeanor can only be expunged after probation is completed.
Successful petitions can result in probation being terminated early, a plea being withdrawn, a case being dismissed, an arrest being deemed a detention, or juvenile records being sealed and destroyed.
If no probation was given, a person can have their record expunged a year after their conviction. Some sexual offenses, however, cannot be expunged, so eligibility must be verified before the expungement process can begin.
If an expungement request is denied, it could be for one of five reasons: an error in a court file, the court does not believe it is in the best interests of the court, an error in an application, failure to pay a fine, or violation of probation. Expunction for a misdemeanor or felony can take anywhere from twelve to fourteen weeks.