Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony charge, facing a criminal charge can be a traumatic experience. If you don’t have any knowledge of the California criminal justice system, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed. You may be wondering what type of crime with which you’ve been charged. California recognizes three different levels of criminal offenses: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Felony charges carry the harshest penalties, but misdemeanor charges are still serious.
If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, your freedom is still at stake. Many misdemeanor crimes carry a jail sentence of up to six months and a $1,000 court fine. Aggravated misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in county jail. The sooner you speak to an experienced California criminal defense lawyer, the better. Contact the Law Offices of Ronald L. Freeman today to schedule your initial consultation. We will prepare an excellent legal defense after carefully reviewing your misdemeanor charge.
Common Misdemeanors in California
Crimes that carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in the county jail are considered misdemeanors in California. Misdemeanor charges are not as serious as felony charges, but they are more serious than infractions. Those convicted of misdemeanor crimes face probation costs, fines, and may be required to complete educational classes. Some of the most commonly charged misdemeanors in California include the following:
- Soliciting for an act of prostitution
- Reckless driving
- Public drunkenness
- Probation violations
- Petty theft
- Driving on a suspended license
- Disorderly conduct
- Domestic violence
“Wobbler” Charges in California
Some criminal charges are called “wobblers” because prosecutors can increase the criminal charge from a misdemeanor to a felony if they choose to do so. Typically, prosecutors will elevate a misdemeanor charge to a felony charge when there are aggravating circumstances involved. If your misdemeanor charge has been elevated to a felony charge, be aware that you will face higher penalties, including lengthy or jail time and heftier fines. When the defendant has a criminal record or caused a victim serious injury, prosecutors are more likely to bring felony charges. Common “wobbler” misdemeanors include the following:
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Deadly threats
- Child abuse
- Child endangerment
- Domestic violence
- DUI with an injury
- Grand theft
- DUI with an injury
- Second-degree burglary
Why You Need a California Criminal Defense Lawyer
Even though misdemeanor charges are not as serious as felony charges, defendants should take them seriously. If you’re convicted, you will have a criminal record that could hinder your educational, career, and housing opportunities. Dealing with the penalties, including educational classes, will use your time and resources. Being charged with a misdemeanor is more than just a court date.
Being convicted is a life-changing event that necessitates the help of an experienced lawyer. Your criminal defense lawyer will represent you while you’re being questioned by the police, ensuring you don’t incriminate yourself. If you’re being investigated, your lawyer will hold law enforcement officers accountable.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer will ensure that the prosecution doesn’t violate your rights and will attempt to get your case dismissed. If you’re considering a plea deal, your defense lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor to secure the best flea deal possible. The sooner you consult with a criminal defense lawyer, the better.
Defending Against a Misdemeanor Charge in California
In some cases, a defendant can successfully petition the court to reduce a misdemeanor charge to an infraction. For example, a court sometimes reduces a charge of petty theft from a misdemeanor to an infraction. The court will consider the nature and circumstances of the offense, the defendant’s character traits, and his or her attitude toward the offense. Depending on the facts in your case, our legal team may be able to get your case dismissed, reduced to an infraction, or we may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain on your behalf.
The specific legal defense strategy depends on the facts in your case. For example, if a law enforcement officer arrested you without probable cause, we can petition the court to throw out any evidence obtained unconstitutionally. If you were charged with a DUI, we might be able to prove that the breathalyzer test was not administered correctly or that the officers didn’t have the reasonable suspicion necessary to pull you over in the first place. Our dynamic team of San Bernardino criminal defense lawyers knows how to defend clients charged with misdemeanors skillfully. When you hire us, you can rest assured that we will use our experience and end up knowledge of the criminal justice system to use the best legal defenses possible in your case.
Misdemeanor Expungement in California
Many of our new clients ask us whether they can expunge a misdemeanor conviction from their record. Misdemeanor convictions can lead to professional license suspensions. Misdemeanor convictions can also make it challenging to get educational assistance and apply for loans. Even if your criminal conviction is relatively minor, it can still negatively affect your life.
Everybody makes mistakes, and one mistake shouldn’t haunt you for the rest of your life. If you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor, and you’d like to have it removed from your record, so it doesn’t appear in background checks, we can help. You may be able to successfully expunge the misdemeanor from your record, opening more doors for you in the future.
Contact a San Bernardino Misdemeanor Lawyer
Have you been charged with a misdemeanor offense in California? If so, it’s crucial that you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Ronald L. Freeman, we have a proven track record of obtaining the best possible outcomes in our client’s misdemeanor cases. We are known as tough litigators who advocate strongly on behalf of our clients. For more information, contact our San Bernardino criminal defense law firm today.