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California Criminal Case - Felony

When a crime includes serious injury or damage to person or property, it will be filed as a felony. A felony is the highest level an offense may be charged, and will warrant the most severe consequences.

Many cases are filed as either misdemeanors, or felonies. This decision is made by the prosecutor after reviewing the person's criminal record and the specific facts of the case. The most ideal for a person charged with a felony would be to prepare a powerful argument and strong defenses through a Los Angeles DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney so that the case is filed as a misdemeanor. While a misdemeanor is as serious offense, it is still a level below a felony charge.

To determine the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, the court will study the facts and the background of the person being tried. For example, let's say person A has one drug offense conviction and is charged with aggravated assault. The person assaulted has some bruises and minor pain but nothing internal or serious. The case has a chance of being charged as a misdemeanor if a skilled DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney can prepare a strong argument minimizing the injuries and downplaying the previous criminal record. In contrast, person A has no criminal record and is also being charged with aggravated assault. However, in this situation the person assaulted has suffered some broken bones and internal injuries. Person B is likely to be tried as a felony case because of the severity of injuries sustained by the person assaulted.

Felony cases generally involve extensive criminal proceedings to ensure that the person's rights are properly protected, since they often require serious consequences. They also require that the person be taken into custody and in some cases a bail amount will be offered. Felony charges such as murder do not allow for bail if the Judge feels that the person is a threat to society, or a flight risk.

Potential consequences for felonies are significantly increased in comparison to those of misdemeanors. Those that are convicted of a felony may face years in state prison, steep fines as well as extensive probation. There is always room for negotiation and having a felony reduced to a misdemeanor will make a huge difference in the potential sentence as well as the person's permanent criminal record.

Infraction

When someone is charged with a criminal offense, it is either filed as an infraction, misdemeanor or a felony. Many offenses can be filed as any of the three depending on the specific criminal code section it is being charged under. Such sections of the criminal code are referred to as wobblers. For example, a petty theft charge is a wobbler, and may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.

Wobblers are up to the Prosecution's discretion and may be charged as an infraction, misdemeanor or felony after several factors have been taken into consideration. To determine which it will be charged as, prosecutors look into the specific facts of the case as well as the criminal record of the person.

For example, in a case where a person has been charged with several theft offenses previously and is currently being tried for a theft charge in which the value of the amount stolen was over $900, they are likely to be tried as a felony. In comparison, a case in which a person is found with less than an ounce of marijuana, and has no previous criminal record, they are likely to be charged with an infraction.

An infraction is the lowest possible charge and would be most favorable for a person, next to dismissal. The potential consequences of an infraction are similar to those of a traffic citation. It doesn't go onto a person's criminal record and doesn't warrant much more than a fine in penalties.

In many cases, prosecutor's offer the option of lowering the charge from a misdemeanor to an infraction in exchange for a guilty plea. This is referred to as a plea bargain. In many situations a plea bargain is ideal if the offer is for an infraction. However, this is only ideal in situations where the options of the case being dismissed are minimal. In order to better understand where your case stands and what options you have available, it is best to consult a Los Angeles DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney.

Misdemeanor

Criminal offenses may be charged as either an infraction, misdemeanor or felony. The prosecutor's determine the final charge after a consideration of the person's criminal history and the specific facts of the case. Sections of the criminal code that have the autonomy of being charged as either an infraction, misdemeanor or felony are referred to as wobblers.

A case in which a person has been convicted previously of a felony and is currently facing new charges for similar offenses will most likely be tried as a felony. In most cases where person or property is injured as a result of the offense, it will be a felony. The severity of the injury will have an impact on the case. For example, if there are minor injuries, scratches and bruises, the case may still be considered as a misdemeanor. However, if there is internal injuries, or broken bones the case will most likely be a felony. When there is little or no damage to property, simple scratches then it will be considered a misdemeanor in cases like Hit and Run. If property is completely destroyed, or someone's vehicle is totaled, the case will be a felony.

In comparison, a misdemeanor is often the charge when there is no previous criminal record, little or no minimal injury to person or property. Misdemeanor charges do not have as severe as potential consequences as felony cases. Felony convictions often include mandatory jail time, higher fines and extended probation. The majority of misdemeanor cases does not require jail time and offer more room to negotiate a lower sentence. Those that have jail sentences are typically less than those for felony convictions and are often served in local jails and not state prisons.

Many misdemeanor charges can also be filed as felonies if circumstances warrant the prosecutor to do so. Fortunately, a powerful argument prepared by a Los Angeles DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney can assure that the charges remain a misdemeanor.