California Law: What is a Misdemeanor?


While not as serious as felonies, misdemeanor charges have the potential to disrupt a defendant’s life substantially if convicted. Learn more about misdemeanors, what crimes are considered misdemeanors, what penalties you face if convicted, and how to get the legal help you need from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Legal Definition of a Misdemeanor

Simply put, a misdemeanor is a crime considered by law to be less serious than a felony. However, it is more serious than an infraction, which are usually traffic violations.

Misdemeanor Crimes

There are many different types of misdemeanor crimes, including but not limited to:

  • Domestic violence
  • Shoplifting/petty theft
  • Drunk driving
  • Violation of a protective order
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Publicly carrying a loaded firearm
  • Probation violations
  • Driving without a license
  • Public intoxication
  • Prostitution solicitation
  • Reckless driving

It’s important to note that many crimes are “wobbler crimes” in California. They can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances.

Penalties for Misdemeanors in California

Typically, a misdemeanor will result in less than a year of jail time in a county jail. However, other penalties may be included, such as:

  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Mandatory counseling and/or anger management classes
  • Physical labor
  • Restitution
  • No-contact orders

The role of a criminal defense attorney is to attempt to have the charges dismissed. However, if unsuccessful, the attorney may have the charges and/or penalties reduced.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

One of the most important things to do after an arrest is call a seasoned criminal defense lawyer. In fact, many people mistakenly believe that a misdemeanor charge is not a big deal. However, misdemeanor charges can land you in jail and give you a permanent criminal record that can haunt you for the rest of your life.

At Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense, we have the skills and resources to help you fight misdemeanor charges and protect your rights under the law. We will work hard to see that every possible legal option available to you is utilized. So, if you’re facing misdemeanor charges, don’t wait to get legal help. Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your case in detail by calling 909-689-4292.