The 3 Types of Criminal Cases in CaliforniaThere are three types of criminal cases in California: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. They cover different offenses and there are different potential penalties for each. If you’re unsure as to which is which, here’s a rundown of the three different types of criminal cases in California:

Infractions in California

An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is not considered to be a crime. In California, many traffic violations are classified as infractions, including speeding, running a red light, failing to come to a full stop, making an illegal u-turn, etc.

There is no jail time if a defendant is found guilty of committing the infraction. Fines are limited to $250 (although court costs and other fees can significantly increase the total cost to the defendant). If you fail to pay the fine you could face additional penalties, such as having your driving license suspended.

Misdemeanors in California

Misdemeanors are more serious crimes. There is a wide range of crimes that are considered to be misdemeanor offenses in California, including assault, battery, petty theft, shoplifting, DUI, probation violations, disturbing the peace, etc.

If convicted of a misdemeanor offense in California, you could be facing:

  • Up to one year in county jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.

Many misdemeanor crimes are considered to be “wobbler” offenses. Under certain circumstances – say if a firearm was used in the commission of the crime – what would normally be misdemeanor charges, could be bumped up to felony charges.

Felony Crimes in California

Felonies are the most serious kinds of crimes in California. Felony offenses can include robbery, murder, rape, possession of illegal drugs with the intent to sell, etc.

If convicted of a felony offense in California, you could be facing:

  • Sixteen months to life in prison, and/or
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Some felonies are so serious as to be capital offenses. This means you could be facing the death penalty if convicted of a felony capital offense in California.

Protect Your Rights in a Criminal Case

It’s important to protect your rights in any criminal case. The consequences of a criminal conviction can be very serious. Depending on the charges, you could end up spending years in jail and/or paying massive fines. In many instances, the conviction will permanently remain on your public record, preventing you from holding certain types of jobs. If you’re a noncitizen you could be deported or be prevented from becoming a U.S. citizen. Even a minor traffic infraction can raise your insurance premium, costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars more a year to maintain coverage.

Speak With an Experienced Orange County CA Criminal Defense Attorney

The California state courts recommend that get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney when you are charged with a crime. If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Orange County, CA, that attorney would be Jim Tanizaki. A former Orange County DA turned criminal defense attorney, Jim’s unique background allows him to anticipate the prosecutor’s tactics and respond with effective defense strategies that often result in reduced or even dropped charges for his clients.

Don’t wait to seek legal help after being charged with a criminal offense. Contact the law offices of Jim Tanizaki through our website, or call us at (714) 655-7633 to schedule a free initial consultation with an Orange County, CA criminal defense attorney.