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The Differences Between Misdemeanors and Felonies

November 30, 2023 in Criminal Defense

Most people do not know what to expect when they have been charged with a crime for the first time. This can result in your not knowing how serious the situation is. One of the first steps in understanding the gravity of the charges against you is to know the differences between a misdemeanor and a felony. This article will address the issue by explaining these two types of charges. If you are in need of assistance then contact our office to a San Luis Obispo criminal attorney.

Misdemeanor Charges Will Result in Less Than a Year in Jail While Felonies Carry Longer Prison Sentences

Those convicted of a misdemeanor will serve up to six months in jail. If the conduct is more severe then you may face “aggravated” misdemeanor charges, which can result in just under one year in jail. Felonies, by contrast, carry a sentence of more than a year in state prison. Common examples of misdemeanor offenses include petty theft, shoplifting, low-level drug possession, etc. Examples of aggravated misdemeanors include domestic battery, violating a restraining order, and more. Finally, felony charges include higher-level drug offenses, many violent crimes, etc.

It is important to understand that receiving a felony conviction will result in being prohibited from possessing a firearm for the remainder of one’s life. This is in addition to the fact that felonies carry a longer potential term of incarceration. This prohibition against possessing a gun stems from federal law as well as California state law. This means that even if you move out of California, you will not be able to possess a gun anywhere in the country if you have been convicted of a California felony. This ban on gun possession will remain even if you later seal the conviction from your record.

Crimes Can Be a Misdemeanor or Felony Under California’s Wobbler Laws

California is like other states in that some offenses can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. These offenses, which are known as “wobblers,” will typically be charged as felonies unless the prosecutor chooses to pursue a misdemeanor. Whether or not to charge the matter as a misdemeanor is within the prosecutor’s discretion. Examples of wobbler offenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Child endangerment
  • Burglary
  • Stalking

Whether or not the prosecutor will pursue felony charges will often depend on the overall facts of the case, the criminal history of the accused, the number of total counts that the individual is facing, and more. 

Contact A San Luis Obispo Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you or a family member have been arrested then it is important that you take immediate steps to protect your rights. One such step is retaining an experienced lawyer. Our firm believes that everyone is entitled to both aggressive representation and respect. Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, we are ready to assist you. Contact us online or call us at 805-546-8797 to speak with a San Luis Obispo criminal attorney.

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