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Misdemeanor Crimes In California - Things You Need To Know


Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

In California, crimes are categorized into different levels: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. While felony charges are the most severe and entail harsher penalties, this blog will focus on misdemeanor crimes in California. It will provide an in-depth analysis of how courts and prosecutors handle these cases within the criminal case process.

Being accused of a crime in California is usually very stressful because most defendants have never been involved with the criminal justice system before. When this happens, it’s normal for them to have a lot of questions about the specific crime they have been accused of.

There are certain crimes known as “wobblers” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The decision of whether to pursue a misdemeanor or felony crime charge is typically determined by the prosecutor, taking into consideration the specific details of the case and the defendant’s criminal background.


The maximum penalties for misdemeanors in California include:

  • For standard misdemeanors: Up to 6 months in jail.
  • For gross/aggravated misdemeanors: Up to 364 days in jail
  • Fine of up to $1,000, in addition to court costs

Los Angeles County courts typically impose sentences at the lower end of the penalty range unless there are exceptional circumstances. While it is commonly stated that misdemeanors carry a potential sentence of “up to 1 year” in county jail, the maximum sentence allowed is 364 days since January 1, 2015.



  • Penal Code 240 – Assault
  • Penal Code 242 – Battery
  • Penal Code 314Indecent Exposure
  • Penal Code 484(a) – Petty Theft
  • Penal Code 459.5 – Shoplifting
  • Penal Code 243(e)(1) – Domestic Battery
  • Penal Code 273.6 – Violation of Restraining Order
  • Penal Code 415 – Disturbing the Peace
  • Penal Code 602 – Trespassing
  • Penal Code 647 – Disorderly Conduct
  • Penal Code 647(b) – Prostitution
  • Penal Code 647(f) – Public Intoxication
  • Penal Code 496 – Receiving Stolen Property
  • Vehicle Code 23152 – Driving Under the Influence
  • Vehicle Code 23103 – Reckless Driving
  • Vehicle Code 14601 – Driving on Suspended License
  • Health and Safety Code 11350 – Drug Possession


In California, misdemeanor cases typically progress through the following stages:

  • Arrest by law enforcement
  • Arraignment, which involves formal charging and entering a plea
  • Bail hearing, where the court determines if bail is necessary
  • Pretrial phase, which includes processes such as discovery and motions to dismiss or exclude evidence
  • Jury trial or bench trial, where the case is presented to a judge or jury
  • Appeal, which can be pursued if there is a disagreement with the outcome.

However, it is important to note that not all cases will go through every stage. Some cases may be dropped if the evidence is weak or if a motion to suppress evidence is granted by the court. Additionally, it is possible for the prosecution and the defendant to reach a plea bargain agreement at any point during the process.

Please keep in mind that these stages may vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances of the case.


Under California law, a majority of misdemeanor crimes can be expunged, with the exception of misdemeanor sex crimes committed against children, such as specific charges of statutory rape under California Penal Code 261.5 PC.


For a misdemeanor to be eligible for expungement, the following conditions must be met:

  • The individual must have successfully completed probation;
  • The individual must not be charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence for any criminal offense.

Furthermore, if an individual undergoes expungement of their misdemeanor, they are not obligated to disclose their previous conviction when questioned about their criminal history during a job application or interview.


Most misdemeanors would result in deportation for non-citizens, except in cases involving drugs, firearms, or domestic violence.

In accordance with U.S. law, individuals may face deportation if, within five years of gaining admission to the United States, they commit a crime that qualifies as “moral turpitude” and can lead to a sentence of one year or more.

As of January 1, 2015, the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor in California is 364 days, which is less than one year. Therefore, a conviction for a single misdemeanor in California no longer falls under the category of a crime of moral turpitude that would result in deportation.


If you have been charged with a misdemeanor crime, it is important to seek legal advice from our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, Cyrus Tabibnia at Tabibnia Law Firm. With over 18 years of experience, he possesses the expertise to effectively defend individuals facing misdemeanor offenses. He is skilled in negotiating in the courtroom and can work towards reducing or dismissing charges.

Getting prompt assistance from Tabibnia Law Firm can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Through the prefiling intervention process, our attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor to prevent the formal filing of criminal charges. With his extensive knowledge of criminal law, he is familiar with the local prosecutors and judges across all Los Angeles County criminal courthouses.


To obtain more information about your misdemeanor crime and ensure that your rights are protected, we encourage you to contact Cyrus Tabibnia, our criminal defense lawyer at Tabibnia Law Firm. Schedule an initial consultation to have your case thoroughly evaluated. Feel free to call at 866-713-2159. Your legal representation is only a phone call away.

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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