Charged With a Misdemeanor? Help is Available

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Charged with Misdemeanor? Help is Available.

Person holding a white bag outside of a shopping centerFinding yourself on the wrong side of the law can be distressing. However, you can rest easy and allow me to walk you through the uncertainty. 

In California, criminal offenses can be categorized as a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction. Examples of misdemeanors are generally low-level offenses in trespassing, petty theft, non-injurious DUI, domestic abuse if no bodily injury was caused, disorderly conduct, or shoplifting. These charges are less serious than felony-level charges but a step above what you might face if you’ve been charged with an infraction.

California misdemeanor charges fall into two categories: standard and aggravated or “gross” misdemeanors:

  • With a standard misdemeanor charge, you’re facing possible jail time up to 6 months, as well as a potential fine up to $1,000
  • With an aggravated misdemeanor charge, you’re facing upwards of a year (364 days) of jail time in addition to a potential fine of $1,000 or more

Court procedures for felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions are also different. Expect to receive a complaint (citation) and summons if charged with a misdemeanor. A citation describes the offense committed. The summons indicates the date and time you’ll be expected to appear in court. However, it’s common to be arrested and then released.

If you’ve been arrested in San Diego or anywhere in California, it’s critical to honor the court summon as well as secure an attorney for your defense. Otherwise, a warrant of arrest will be issued for a California or San Diego misdemeanor court hearing.

What Happens After You’ve Been Charged with a Misdemeanor?

If you have been ticketed or received a citation for a California misdemeanor, or have been arrested, you can expect that citation to include an arraignment date in court. Note that you may be able to have your defense attorney appear in court on your behalf for some misdemeanor charges. You’ll need to follow already defined rules when dealing with these petty crimes. It isn’t a lengthy procedure and includes the following four steps:

  • Arraignment

The Deputy Public Defender or your defense attorney will discuss everything regarding the charges pressed against you during this initial stage. You’ll be required to enter a plea that can be either “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.”

  • Trial

The trial phase dictates the final judgment. Issues like your former criminal history can affect the ultimate sentence. However, there are instances where people charged with a misdemeanor never went to trial. Also, you can request your attorney to settle the case on your behalf.

  • Sentencing

If found guilty, you’ll be liable to punishment. The penalty can be probation or a county jail term of no more than 12 months.

  • Appeal

Even after sentencing, you’ve got the right to appeal. You’ll be required to talk to your attorney for them to file the notice of appeal strictly within 30 days after sentencing. Remember to share your address with the concerned parties. Plus, frequently check on court communications.

If you need help with a San Diego misdemeanor court case or are facing misdemeanor charges anywhere in California, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney who will work with your best interests in mind for a fair outcome. I, Michael C. MacNeil, can help you achieve a fair outcome and will vigorously pursue your best interest in court. Contact me for a free consultation.


What happens when I’m charged with a misdemeanor?

The penalty can be no jail and probation or a one-year county jail term.

Do misdemeanors stay on my record?

Unless an attorney has helped you achieve a record expungement, a misdemeanor charge will stay on your criminal record for life.

What happens if a minor commits a misdemeanor?

A parent or guardian must be present during all court proceedings.

For more information about criminal defense in California, review our FAQ. For questions and help navigating your unique circumstances, please reach out to me as soon as possible.

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