Misdemeanor Charges in San Diego, CA
Infractions, Misdemeanors, And Felonies
Criminal offenses in California are classified as either infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies. Infractions – such as traffic violations – are the least serious, and will not appear on your criminal record. Punishable by a fine or community service, they don’t subject the offender to incarceration or probation. At the other end of the spectrum, felonies have serious consequences – including jail time, fines, and probation. Though a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony conviction, it’s worse than an infraction. Misdemeanors become a part of your permanent record, and can have a long-lasting impact on your future.
Misdemeanors carry a punishment of less than 1 year in county jail, and a fine of up to $1,000.
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Misdemeanors generally involve minor injuries or property damage. They are usually charged by written complaint, filed with the court shortly before – or on the day of – the defendant’s first court appearance. While misdemeanors are considered minor compared to felonies, being accused or convicted can carry consequences that seriously impact your life.
Some misdemeanor crimes are considered wobblers, which the prosecutor has the discretion to charge as either an infraction or a felony. The decision to charge the defendant with an infraction or a felony will be based on the specific facts of the case, and his criminal history. There is typically some aggravating circumstance that elevates the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. The seriousness of the crime, injuries to the victim, and the defendant’s prior record are all contributing factors in determining the charges that are filed. Examples of wobblers include:
- Domestic Violence/Domestic Violence Restraining Order Violations
- DUI/DWI (3 convictions in a 10-year period)
- Petty Theft (3 or more convictions)
- Indecent Exposure
- Possession of a Concealed or Loaded Gun
Misdemeanors are commonly grouped into broad categories, including:
Crimes Against A Person: These crimes include offenses involving bodily harm or the threat of bodily harm, such as assault, battery, and harassment. More serious injuries – or injuries caused by the use of a weapon – will generally result in felony charges instead.
Crimes Against Property: Crimes against property are divided into two groups: destroyed property and stolen property. Property crimes include burglary, theft, arson, shoplifting, and vandalism.
Crimes Against Public Order: These are violations that interfere with the normal operations of society. They violate publicly shared values, customs, or norms, and don’t require an identifiable victim. Crimes against public order include disorderly conduct, noise violations, and open alcohol container violations.
Misdemeanor Sentences In San Diego
A defendant convicted of a misdemeanor can face probation with or without jail time, community service, physical labor, restitution, and fines. Misdemeanor convictions also result in a permanent criminal record. Certain misdemeanor offenses – known as gross or aggravated misdemeanors – specify a harsher penalty. Examples of these aggravated misdemeanors include domestic battery, driving on a suspended license, and certain DUI offenses.
You Need A San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
While misdemeanors aren’t as serious as felonies, they can have long-lasting consequences. A misdemeanor conviction can make it difficult to find a job, rent an apartment, or obtain a loan. Don’t face your misdemeanor charges alone! The Law Office of Gregory Garrison has over 28 years of combined experience, and a successful track record of defending clients against misdemeanor and felony charges. Contact us today to thoroughly discuss the evidence against you. We can recommend the next steps you should take to achieve the best possible results in your case.