What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor in California?

April 5, 2023

In California, criminal offenses are classified as either felonies or misdemeanors. The main difference between the two is the severity of the punishment.

A felony is the more serious of the two types of criminal offenses. These types of crimes are punishable by imprisonment in a state prison or county jail for more than one year. Examples of felonies in California include murder, rape, and robbery. Felony convictions can also result in the loss of certain rights, such as the right to vote or the right to own a firearm.

On the other hand, misdemeanors are less serious criminal offenses. They are punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. Examples of misdemeanors in California include petty theft, disorderly conduct, and driving under the influence (DUI).

There are also some crimes that are considered “wobblers” in California, which means that they can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. For example, assault with a deadly weapon or grand theft can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

The distinction between felonies and misdemeanors is important because the punishment for a felony conviction is significantly harsher than that for a misdemeanor conviction. In addition, a felony conviction can result in a number of collateral consequences, such as difficulty finding employment or housing.

In California, a person convicted of a felony may be sentenced to serve time in state prison, whereas a person convicted of a misdemeanor will generally be sentenced to serve time in county jail.

The type of sentence that a person may receive upon conviction of a felony or misdemeanor will also vary. For example, a person convicted of a felony may be sentenced to probation, while a person convicted of a misdemeanor will generally be sentenced to probation.

The length of probation for a felony conviction is typically longer than for a misdemeanor conviction. Additionally, a person convicted of a felony may be required to complete community service or attend counseling as part of their probation.

Lastly, a felony conviction can result in the loss of certain rights, such as the right to vote, the right to own a firearm, and the right to hold public office. Misdemeanors, on the other hand, generally do not result in the loss of these rights.

Attorney John D. Rogers is a criminal defense attorney. He is a board-certified criminal law specialist by the State Bar of California. His office represents clients throughout Southern California in state and federal matters. If you’re seeking legal representation, give the Law Offices of John D. Rogers a call to schedule a free consultation.

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