The Seriousness of Misdemeanors
If you are charged with a misdemeanor in California, you could face up to one year in jail and/or several thousand dollars in fines. In certain cases, the prosecutor may even decide to elevate your misdemeanor charge to a felony, based on any prior criminal history and the circumstances of your case. It is therefore in your best interest to enlist the help of an experienced, aggressive California criminal defense attorney such as Ken Rosenfeld as soon as possible after your arrest.
Although some California misdemeanors can be charged as felonies, most are treated as relatively minor offenses. For example, if you are arrested for shoplifting—which is charged as petty theft—the maximum sentence for a first offense is six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. With the help of the aggressive California criminal defense attorneys at The Rosenfeld Law Firm, your chances of getting the maximum sentence are very slim. In fact, many first-time offenders avoid jail time entirely and receive short-term probation.
Circumstances that Impact California Misdemeanors
Some California misdemeanors, such as petty theft and being drunk in public, carry maximum sentences of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. These offenses are classified as “standard” because their sentences are straightforward and cannot be increased. Other sentences for these crimes can be a year or more in jail with a $1,000 fine or more. Under California law, prosecutors and judges have the discretion to reduce certain crimes, from felonies to misdemeanors. A wobbler is a felony by default and remains a felony except when the discretion is actually exercised by the prosecutor, judge, or magistrate to reduce the crime to a misdemeanor. This is where aggressive representation by The Rosenfeld Law Firm can benefit you.
Examples of wobblers are as follows:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) – (first, second, or third offense)
- Domestic battery or second violation of a stay away order)
- Participation in criminal street gang activity
- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Child abduction in violation of custody order
If you have a criminal history of prior offenses and/or the facts of your case are deemed particularly reprehensible, the prosecution may decide to charge any of the above as felonies. If you find yourself in that position, you can benefit greatly from your Rosenfeld criminal defense team’s history of successfully reducing certain felonies as wobblers.
Clearing Your Name after Sentencing
In addition to fighting for your rights in and out of court, your Rosenfeld criminal defense lawyers can help you get your record expunged in the event of a conviction. Even if you receive the maximum sentence for a California misdemeanor, you may still have the opportunity to clear your name under California’s expungement laws. In order to be eligible for expungement of your criminal record, you must:
- Have completed your probation in its entirety
- Not currently be charged with, on probation for or serving time for a criminal offense
- Not have served time in a state prison
- Not have committed serious sex offenses against children
California Misdemeanors and Probation
There are several specific criteria that must be met in order to satisfy the state’s definition of successfully completing probation. A qualified California criminal defense attorney will have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you meet those requirements. At The Rosenfeld Law Firm, every client is treated as a priority by his or her team of defense counsel. For a free consultation, contact The Rosenfeld Law Firm’s offices today.
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Along with legal advice, The Rosenfeld Law Firm in Sacramento, California, offers experience and representation in other pertinent areas of practice including prison law, mental health law, appellate law, and federal criminal defense.