The basic difference is that a felony carries much more serious penalties
than a misdemeanor does. In California, the maximum jail sentence for
a misdemeanor would be a one-year sentence, while felonies can lead to
a life sentence in prison or even capital punishment. Notice that there
is a difference between jail and prison. A misdemeanor conviction could
land someone in a county jail, while a felony conviction could send someone
to state prison.
What is a "wobbler" crime?
This refers to a criminal offense that is borderline, one that a prosecutor
could charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony. With a wobbler crime,
a judge also has the discretion to choose to sentence the crime as either
a felony or a misdemeanor. For example, a prosecutor could choose to file
a charge of grand theft auto as a felony, but a judge may decide that
the offense is actually a misdemeanor and penalize the defendant accordingly.
Under California law, numerous crimes can be wobblers.
Penalties for a Felony or Misdemeanor Charge in San Diego
The specific penalties applied will vary from case to case. While, for
instance, in some states all felonies that are categorized as a "Class
B felony" are assigned the same penalties, California laws assign
penalties to each crime, not to each category of crime. For most crimes,
there is a low-, mid-, and high-term sentence given; a San Diego judge
could have only three options for sentencing. This means that on top of
any jail or prison sentence listed for a crime, there could also be sentences
probation, community service, restitution, and more that are specific to a criminal charge.
A sentence may not be listed with every crime, however. If a specific penalty
is not given for a certain felony offense, then someone who is convicted
of that felony charge could face a prison sentence of 16 months, two,
or three years, and they could be fined as well. If no penalty is specified
for a misdemeanor offense, then someone could face a six-month jail sentence,
a $1,000 fine, or both upon conviction. These hold true for first-time
charges. If there are prior convictions, a defendant would be looking
at more severe penalties, especially if the
Three Strikes law applies.
Whatever type of criminal charge you face, do not let it turn into a permanent
criminal record. This can seriously diminish your future by throwing an
obstacle in the way of every application for a job, house, and loan. Find
out how you could get the rigorous defense that you deserve when you fill out a
free case evaluation. If you have a criminal record, find out if it can be
expunged (or erased) from your record when you
call a San Diego criminal defense lawyer at our firm.