A misdemeanor, generally, is any crime that is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1000, unless the crime has been designated as an infraction. If you are arrested for a felony, it is still possible that when you go to court the charges may be filed as misdemeanors.
The filing decision is made by the prosecutor that reviews the report of your arrest. Misdemeanors are much more serious than traffic tickets or infractions. A conviction of a misdemeanor will remain on your permanent record.
Misdemeanors involving driving will also impact your DMV record, sometime resulting in an action to suspend your driving privilege.
Examples of Misdemeanors Include:
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
- Drugs (under the influence and possession of Drugs or Paraphernalia)
- Domestic Violence/ Spousal Abuse
- Unlawful Public Conduct
- Shoplifting/Commercial Burglary Under $950
- Sexual Battery/Some Other Sex Offenses
Before misdemeanor charges are filed, you may not be physically arrested and taken into custody. Instead, you may just receive a letter through the mail informing you of a court date. You may be given a citation to appear in court. Sometimes, when you go to court on the date instructed, you will be told that the case has not been filed. This might mean that the prosecutor decided not to file charges against you. However, this also might mean that the prosecutor is still investigating the case and needs more time before bringing charges.
At Bird & Bird, we will follow your case until we know the conclusion. We will continue to check with court filings to make sure the case remains unfiled. If the charges are eventually filed, a warrant will issue for your arrest. By having Bird & Bird on your team, you may avoid arrest by having us appear in court for you to have the warrant recalled. The prosecution has up to one year to file misdemeanor charges.
When Bird & Bird represents you on your misdemeanor, you will not need to appear with us in court with the exception that in certain domestic violence charges, an accused must personally appear at the arraignment and sentencing. More importantly, you need Bird & Bird on your side as soon as you are arrested or think you will be arrested so we can begin work on your case immediately. Sometimes the work done prior to charges being filed is the most effective and the best opportunity to keep your record clear.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you will likely be on informal, or summary, probation and be required to complete terms and conditions of that probation. If you fail to complete all of those terms in a timely fashion, a warrant can issue for your arrest. These post-conviction aspects to a misdemeanor can be even more impactful than the conviction itself. Bird & Bird will help you complete your terms of probation to avoid any negative post-conviction events. Call us at (310) 371-7711 for a free consultation and review of your case.