Being charged with a crime is oftentimes a stressful and harrowing experience. In many situations, the individual being charged with committing a crime will have had very little exposure to the criminal justice system and law enforcement, while those on the other side – law enforcement officers and prosecutors – understand the criminal justice system inside and out. This understanding gives them the ability to intimidate an individual with threats of fines and/or prison time. Retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to combatting not only the intimidation factor, but also the charges in general. Misdemeanors, especially, can be stressful on an individual. While society views misdemeanors as “petty” or “minor,” the fact of the matter is that having even a misdemeanor on an individual’s record can affect them in many ways, as will be described below. Further, with 80% of criminal cases in this country representing misdemeanor charges, it is extremely important to ensure that challenging law enforcement and prosecutors at every step of the way is done. As an example, a recent article discussed a new book about the misdemeanor system in this country and included an anecdote about a Texas woman who was actually put in jail for a short period of time following a traffic stop simply because her children were not wearing seat belts. A discussion of misdemeanors in California, including how they can affect an individual’s life, will follow below.
Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are less serious than felonies, though many do involve violence. California does not classify misdemeanors based on their seriousness (i.e., degrees), but delineates misdemeanors as gross or aggravated, as follows:
- Standard misdemeanors carry a sentence of no more than 6 months in county jail, and/or a fine up to $1000.
- Gross or aggravated misdemeanors carry a sentence of no more than one year in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1000 or more.
Typically, misdemeanors have sentences of a few days or months in jail or probation, coupled with community service and/or a fine.
The process for prosecuting a misdemeanor crime in most counties is generally a four-step process – arrest, arraignment, pre-trial proceedings, and the trial. Although this may sound simple, this process is filled with deadlines and various other procedures that must be followed. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help ensure that all requirements are met.
Effects of Misdemeanors
Although serving the penalty for a crime means, from a legal and societal point-of-view, the individual’s debt has been paid, convictions unfortunately will follow a person for the rest of his/her life. Some of the ways a criminal record will follow a convicted individual include the following:
- Background checks will most likely indicate an individual’s criminal record, which, depending on the job, may prohibit hiring.
- Professional Licenses. Some licenses are revoked upon conviction, or, if in the application stages, the application may be denied.
- Some loans can be denied based on the existence of a criminal record.
- Renters are definitely susceptible to being denied as a result of a criminal record, as some landlords or complexes specifically refuse to rent to convicted individuals.
- Most importantly, an arrest by itself is, in terms of society, embarrassing. Coupling an arrest with a conviction typically carries a social stigma that may be hard to escape.
Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime, even if a misdemeanor, do not hesitate, and contact the criminal defense attorneys at Manshoory Law Group, APC as soon as possible. The attorneys at Manshoory Law Group have a large body of knowledge and experience in California criminal law, including defending against misdemeanor charges. We will work with you to provide the most effective defense possible based on the specific circumstances of your case. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact the Los Angeles criminal defense firm today for an initial case analysis.