Misdemeanors

  1. What is a Misdemeanor?
  2. What is the sentence / punishment for a Misdemeanor?
  1. What is a Misdemeanor?

    A misdemeanor is any crime that is not punishable by death or imprisonment in state prison (i.e., more than one year behind bars) and which is not an infraction (a petty, small violation of the law typically reserved for minor traffic violations). Cal. Pen. Code s. 17 (a) Opens in New Window.

  2. What is the sentence / punishment for a Misdemeanor?

    Unless the statute violated indicates more punishment, the typical maximum sentence for a misdemeanor is six months in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Cal. Pen. Code s. 19 Opens in New Window. Of course, it is important to note that even if the fine is $1,000, there are additional court fees and contributions to state funds that can be (and usually are imposed) that increase the dollar amount owed substantially.

    Even if the statute indicates a sentence of more than six months, the absolute maximum sentence that can be imposed for a misdemeanor is one year in county jail. Cal. Pen. Code s. 19.2 Opens in New Window. If the statute says it can be one year in the county jail or a longer period in state prison, the law is a "wobbler" and could be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on how it is charged by the district attorney or sentenced by the judge.

See also, Infraction, Felony, Wobbler.