"lesser" criminal acts which are generally punished less severely
than felonies; but more so than infractions. Examples of misdemeanors
include: DUI, petty theft, prostitution, simple assault, battery, trespass,
marijuana possession, reckless driving and the like.
Some offenses can sometimes be filed as a misdemeanor, other times be
a felony. Such offenses include: domestic violence, certain offenses
with priors, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury,
and certain drug offenses.
In general, misdemeanors are crimes with a maximum punishment of no
more than one year in a county jail. Those people who are convicted
of misdemeanors are often punished with probation, fines, community
service, sheriff's work program or part-time imprisonment, served on
In California, misdemeanor convicts who are incarcerated serve their
time in a county jail, whereas those convicted of a felony who are sentenced
to more than one year serve their time in a prison. A skilled attorney
should, in most cases, see that someone pleading to a misdemeanor avoids
any incarceration. For most cases, that is with most charges, the case
can be settled for such things as community service, a fine, the sheriff's
work program (a jail equivalent but, in essence, community service).
Often the key is presenting you as a person, not as the mistake you
might have made, to the court."
When facing charges of a misdemeanor, you have many of the protections
you have with a felony. You have the right to a trial in front of a
jury, and can only be convicted if all 12 jurors believe that your guilt
has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
In California, this holds true even for an offense that does not have
the possible penalty of jail.
A well-qualified attorney can help you determine whether a trial is
in your best interest, and can guide you through either settlement or
through trial so that you can achieve the best possible outcome in your