If you have an encounter with California police, you could face a variety of charges. These cover a spectrum from felonies and misdemeanors to infractions or citations, with felonies typically carrying the highest level of punishment.
Though not as serious, misdemeanors still have significant consequences and require a careful legal defense.
Misdemeanor offenses and penalties
According to information from the Superior Court of California, misdemeanor convictions can come from charges related to prostitution, petty theft, vandalism, drunk driving and domestic violence. Many drug offenses fall into this category as well.
In most cases, the offense can carry a minimum penalty of $1,000, though spousal abuse cases can result in fines of up to $6,000. If convicted, you could receive a probation sentence or you could receive up to one year time in county jail. In some situations, part of the sentencing will involve court-ordered programs to change behavior and minimize the chances of a repeat offense.
The processing through the California legal system typically begins with an arrest and a charge. At this point, the authorities can release you for lack of evidence or they can take you to jail. Once in jail, there are generally three possible outcomes:
- Release on your own recognizance
- Release after posting bail
- Remain in jail until a court hearing
An arraignment involves a formal statement of charges, a reading of your constitutional rights, and the entering of a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. If necessary, the case proceeds to a trial hearing, which has its own set of requirements.
A misdemeanor charge represents a serious challenge to your freedom. Understanding your legal rights at this time can help you achieve a better outcome.