Infractions, Misdemeanors and Felonies: What You Need To Know

If you have been charged with a punishable offense, it is in your best interest to understand the consequences of a conviction for each.

In the state of California, offenses are generally categorized as either infractions, misdemeanors or felonies depending on the severity of the crime. If you have been charged with a punishable offense, it is in your best interest to understand these categories and the consequences of a conviction for each.  The punishments vary greatly from paying a fine for an infraction to serving jail time for a felony conviction. A practiced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you avoid more severe consequences by negotiating for a lesser plea. When you are facing criminal charges, hiring a reputable San Diego criminal defense attorney is the best way to navigate through the complicated legal process and fight for your legal rights.

Schedule your free consultation today. Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Joni Eisenstein.

What is an infraction?

An infraction is the least serious offense. Infractions are punishable by fines but do not result in probation or jail time. Because of their less serious nature, those charged with an infraction do not have a right to a jury trial or a court-appointed attorney. The most common infractions are for traffic violations, including speeding, running a stop sign or jaywalking. Some non-traffic infractions may include noise violations, fishing without a license or failure to leash your dog in a public area.

Infractions are punishable by fines and often include additional fees and penalty assessments. In addition to fines, defendants may receive community service, or for a traffic-related infraction, receive points on their driver’s license. Points can cause an increase in your insurance rates and, if you receive too many, can result in the loss of your license. Although not as serious as misdemeanors and felonies, infractions should not be taken lightly. Failure to pay the fine or complete community service can result in further charges.

What is a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor offense falls between an infraction and a felony. There are two types of misdemeanors, standard misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. Standard offenses, such as shoplifting, are punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Gross misdemeanors, such as domestic battery, are for more serious offenses and can result in punishment of up to 1 year in jail as well as fines. Some offenses are known as wobblers because they can be prosecuted as either infractions or misdemeanors based on the defendant’s criminal history or other facts of the case. Examples of wobbler offenses may include DUIs or domestic violence cases, depending on the specific circumstances.

Due to the possibility of receiving jail time, defendants have the right to a jury trial. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you should have a skilled attorney by your side. Your criminal defense attorney will work to convince the court to reduce your charge to an infraction so you can avoid jail time and other negative consequences.

What is a felony?

A felony is the most serious criminal charge a defendant can face. Felonies carry the heaviest consequences because they involve crimes that cause physical harm, the threat of physical harm, white-collar crimes and the sale of narcotics. Depending on the crime, a felony can result in at least one year in jail up to life in prison. A felony conviction can have a lasting impact on your personal and professional life. Some of these more serious charges can also be considered wobblers, meaning they can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Because of their significance, you must have a criminal defense attorney on your side to help you fight your felony charges. A San Diego defense attorney with experience, skill and tenacity can work hard on your behalf to get your charges reduced so you can avoid receiving the maximum penalty.

The Law Office of Joni Eisenstein – San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney

Misdemeanor and felony charges must be taken seriously. Retaining a qualified attorney is the first step in the fight for your freedom. Experienced criminal defense attorney Joni Eisenstein has worked in the San Diego courts since 2003. She has a proven track record of dedication to the needs of her clients, helping them get the best outcome possible for their case. If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in San Diego, contact the Law Office of Joni Eisenstein today for a consultation and to discuss your legal options.

If you are on the fence about hiring a defense attorney, stop thinking about it, and do it now

Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joni Eisenstein can help you go from a place of uncertainty to freedom.