Getting charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty of those alleged charges. Even if you are charged with a crime, your choice of a criminal defense attorney is critical. By choosing an experienced and aggressive law firm with a demonstrated success record of litigating the most complicated criminal cases, you can be confident that you will have a tough legal advocate fighting for your rights and your freedom.
While hiring the right Central Valley criminal defense attorney is a must, you should still have some basic knowledge of the different types of offenses in California.
3 Primary Groups of Offenses in California
Under California law, there are three main categories of offenses:
- Infractions. These are public offenses which do not carry a prison sentence if convicted. Common types of infractions include basic traffic violations, jaywalking tickets, and building permit violations. These offenses typically get resolved with the offender paying a fine. Those who are cited generally do not have a right to a jury trial or a public defender.
- Misdemeanors. These are offenses that carry a punishment of up to one year in a county jail and a fine, generally not exceeding $1,000 to $2,000. Common examples of misdemeanors include petty theft, trespassing and public intoxication.
- Felonies. This category of criminal offenses is reserved for the most serious types of crimes. Punishment for a convicted felon varies depending on the crime, but typically includes life imprisonment in a state prison or even death. Some felonies can result in probation. Felonious crimes range from drug offenses, domestic violence, felony DUI, serious assault, manslaughter and murder.
There are many types of crimes that do not fall into one specific category, but rather fall in a gray area between misdemeanor and felony and may be charged as either. These types of offenses are called wobbler offenses.
Different factors that may influence as to whether a crime is charged as a felony or misdemeanor include whether the person being charged has prior convictions and whether there are aggravating circumstances such as the use of a weapon.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with an alleged crime, it is in your best interest to immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you learn your legal rights and options.