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The Difference Between a Felony And a Misdemeanor

When you commit a criminal offense in California, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony – depending on the nature and severity of the crime. Felony charges are extremely serious in nature and can lead to harsh penalties. While a misdemeanor charge is not nearly as serious as a felony, a conviction can still have long-lasting consequences. Furthermore, regardless of the charges you are facing, it’s critical to hire the services of a dedicated and experienced California criminal defense firm.

Key Differences between Misdemeanor and Felony Charges in California

Nature of Crime

Misdemeanors are crimes that are less serious in nature. The most common crimes for which you can be charged with a misdemeanor include:

  • Petty theft
  • DUI
  • Driving on a suspended license
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Simple assault and/or battery
  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism
  • Indecent exposure
  • Drug possession

Felonies, on the other hand, are crimes that are more serious in nature. The most common crimes for which you can be charged with a felony include:

  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated assault
  • Sale or transportation of drugs
  • Sexual assault
  • Homicide

It should be noted that certain misdemeanor charges can be upgraded to felony charges under aggravating circumstances. For instance, DUI, which is a misdemeanor, can be charged as a felony if it results in injuries or death. These are called wobblers, as they could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony – depending on the prosecution’s discretion. To this point, if you are charged with a wobbler crime, it is critical to hire a criminal defense firm as soon as you can.


Misdemeanors in California are punishable with fines (up to $1,000) and jail time (up to one year). However, depending on the circumstances, the criminal defense firm that represents you might be able to negotiate with the prosecution and help you avoid jail time.

Felonies in California are punishable with fines ($10,000 or more) and prison time (anywhere from one year to life in prison). Certain crimes like first-degree murder can be sentenced to capital punishment as well.

Also, for misdemeanors, you have to serve time in a county jail, whereas for felonies, you have to serve time in a state prison.

Long-Term Consequences

A misdemeanor conviction can make it harder for you to get admitted to prestigious educational institutions and disqualify you from certain jobs.

A felony conviction, on the contrary, can have greater life-altering consequences. It can make you ineligible to vote, serve on a jury, or serve in the armed forces. It can also make it harder for you to get a job or rent an apartment. You will lose your right to own or possess firearms as well if convicted of a felony.

Charged with a Misdemeanor or Felony Charge in California? Paladin Criminal Defense Firm Can Help You!

At Paladin Legal Defenders, we are passionate about providing the highest level of legal representation to those who are facing misdemeanor and felony charges in California. With a top-notch legal team that includes a former prosecutor and a former police officer, no case is too complicated for us to take on. We bring unparalleled legal expertise and over 60 years of combined experience to the table and can get results that many other firms cannot.

To find out how we can help you, call our criminal defense firm today at 714-536-9988 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned and professional criminal lawyers.

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