A Board-Certified Specialist In Criminal Law By The California Board Of Legal Specialization

What is considered a felony charge in California?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Felony Offenses

The state categorizes crimes into two main classifications: felonies and misdemeanors. These classifications determine the severity of a particular offense and the potential consequences that defendants may face.

In the Golden State, a felony offense is any crime punishable by a sentence exceeding one year in state custody. This distinction separates felonies from misdemeanors, which typically carry a maximum sentence of up to one year in county jail.

Felonies in California involve more than just a long sentence

Felony convictions come with a set of serious consequences that extend far beyond potential incarceration. These can include:

  • Loss of certain rights: Felony convictions can restrict your ability to vote, hold public office, etc.
  • Employment limitations: A felony record can significantly hinder job prospects, as many employers conduct background checks.
  • Difficulty obtaining housing: Landlords may be hesitant to rent to individuals with felony convictions.
  • Long-term social stigma: A felony conviction can carry a social stigma that can impact your personal and professional relationships.

Understanding the gravity of felony charges is essential. It emphasizes the importance of staying on the right side of the law.

Types of felonies in California

Not all felonies are created equal. The Golden State recognizes two primary categories: straight felonies and wobbler offenses.

Straight felonies are always prosecuted as felonies and carry a minimum sentence of more than one year in state prison. Examples include:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Residential burglary

Conversely, wobbler felonies can end up being felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the prosecutor’s discretion. Factors that influence this decision include:

  • The severity of the crime
  • Your criminal history
  • The presence of aggravating factors

The distinction between these categories is significant. While a straight felony conviction always results in a serious sentence, a wobbler offense can potentially be reduced to a misdemeanor with proper criminal defense strategies.

Being charged with a felony in California is a daunting experience. The potential consequences are life-altering. If you’re facing such an accusation, seeking legal representation as soon as possible is crucial. An experienced legal team can guide you through the legal process, fight for your rights and explore possible defense strategies, including potentially getting a wobbler felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor.