Posted on March 10, 2017

What is a California Misdemeanor Offense?

In California, a misdemeanor is the characterization of a crime carrying a maximum punishment of up to one (1) year in the county jail.  A misdemeanor is less severe than a felony, which carries state prison exposure.  A misdemeanor conviction does not carry any state prison sentence.  Misdemeanor offenses can be charged in juvenile proceedings or in adult court.  Only a prosecuting agency may file charges against someone as neither the court nor law enforcement have the capabilities to formally charge someone.

Misdemeanor offenses are found in the California Penal Code, Business and Professions Code, local city Municipal Codes, and Welfare & Institutions Code.

Common misdemeanor offenses include DUI, resisting arrest, public intoxication, and driving on a suspended driver’s license.  Although the maximum punishment for a misdemeanor is one (1) year in the county jail, many offenses carry less exposure if convicted.  For example, a DUI conviction carries up to six (6) months in the county jail.  Most municipal code violations carry a fine only or up to ninety (90) days in jail if convicted.

Some misdemeanors are characterized as wobblers.  This means that the prosecuting agency has the discretion to charge someone with either a misdemeanor or infraction.  Fortunately, someone convicted of a wobbler offense as a misdemeanor may be eligible to reduce their conviction to an infraction under Penal Code 17(b).

For more information, contact an Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers.

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