Misdemeanor Guide

California Misdemeanor

California has varying degrees of misdemeanors, but they do not classify these in a traditional way (Class A, B, etc.). The courts use different guidelines from the penal code to determine the sentences imposed for different crimes.

In California a misdemeanor will normally show up on a background check. Devastating affects normally appear due to being accused of a misdemeanor or having been convicted of a misdemeanor. And finally, in many cases a misdemeanor can be elevated to the level of a felony.

Changing a Misdemeanor into a Felony
In California the risk of elevating a misdemeanor to the severity of a felony happens in specific circumstances. These circumstances include domestic violence, petty theft, shoplifting, violation of a domestic violence order, indecent exposure, drunk driving with three prior charges in the space of ten years, receipt of stolen property, and having a loaded firearm in a public place.

Misdemeanor Punishment and Sentencing
California sentencing ranges according to misdemeanor charges. Sentencing can include probation, jail time, fines, community service, or a combination of two or more of the latter. An attorney may be able to help minimizes these charges in some situations.

Misdemeanor Penalties
California penalties often include probation. When probation includes jail time, a sentence can be served on weekends in private jails or under house arrest. If probation does not include jail time, which is for less severe offenses, it can be slightly less damaging.

Penalties also include community service, counseling, CalTrans (physical labor), supervised anger management classes, restitution to a victim, stay-away orders where the accused is to have no contact with certain people in certain locations, and fines that range from two hundred to two thousand dollars in charges.

An attorney may be able to lessen these penalties, and an experience criminal defense lawyer can be the difference between jail time and a fine.

Examples of California Misdemeanors
California misdemeanors come in all sizes. These include trespassing, driving under the influence (in the 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 without minimum injury, domestic violence, and exhibition of speed.

Misdemeanor Expungement
Expungement allows an individual to legally and honestly be able to report that he or she has not been convicted of a crime. Misdemeanor expungement in California can only take place under particular circumstances. An individual must not be facing current charges or be on probation for any other offense and the sentence must not involve state imprisonment as opposed to county jail. According to California law PC 1203.4, expungement of a misdemeanor can only take place after probation has been completed.

Successful petitions can result in early termination of probation, withdrawal of a plea, dismissal of a case, having an arrest deemed a detention, or the sealing and destruction of juvenile records.

If no probation was given then an individual can have a record expunged a year after the conviction. However some sexual offenses cannot be expunged, so eligibility must be checked before the expungement process to begun.

If an expungement request has been denied then it can be for one or more of five reasons: an inaccuracy of a court file, the court does not believe it is in the interest of the court, an inaccuracy in an application, not paying a fine, or violation of probation. Misdemeanor or felony expungement can take anywhere between twelve weeks and fourteen weeks.

See also:
Proposition 36 (California)
California Felony External link (opens in new window)
California Divorce External link (opens in new window)
California Expungement of Criminal Records External link (opens in new window)