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There are immigration consequences for non-US citizens as well. Fines for a California felony conviction can be substantial. Drug and financial fraud crimes may also be prosecuted as federal offenses with fines in the millions of dollars depending on the quantity of drugs or the extent of the fraud. The felony court process has four distinct stages. After the reading of charges or waiver, then a plea of guilty, nolo contendre or not guilty is entered.

California Judicial Council Rules

The defendant is then either remanded to custody if not already in jail, released on own recognizance OR or a bail amount is set. If probable cause is found, the defendant is bound over to Superior Court and arraigned there again. A Jury trial by 12 persons were a defendant may waive a jury and have the judge be the sole trier of fact.

If guilty, a presentence report is ordered and the defendant may be ordered to prison immediately to await formal sentencing or allowed to remain on bail before sentencing or if an appeal is filed. Lastly will be a sentence hearing at which the presentence report is considered along with any reports presented by the defense to mitigate the sentence or argue for an alternative to state prison or county jail. The determination is made based on:.

California Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences |

A defendant with a prior record of committing the same offense, or who may have other felony convictions, risks being charged with a felony for the current offense that would otherwise have been charged as a misdemeanor for someone else. A straight felony is one where the DA has no discretion to charge as a misdemeanor. Examples of straight felonies include:. Even if you are convicted of a felony, you can petition the court to have your conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, if it is a wobbler offense.

By having it reduced, you may have your right to own and possess firearms restored as well as enjoy certain other civil rights that were denied you once your probation has terminated.

California Felonies

The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the incarceration time and where the time served is spent. Misdemeanors are offenses for which incarceration is no more than one year and which time is only spent in county jail. Felonies have sentences in which the defendant faces the potential of state prison time for more than one year.

However, some felony sentences may be served in county jail. Most felonies have prison terms with low, mid and high terms depending on the seriousness of the crime and if you have a criminal record. Few people who commit misdemeanors are sentenced for the maximum term of one year unless they have an extensive criminal record or committed a serious crime that had some mitigating factors so that they were not charged with a felony. There are degrees of misdemeanors as well and are termed either as gross misdemeanors or aggravated misdemeanors.

All jail time is served in county jail and may not be for more than one year. You are entitled to have the court appoint an attorney to represent you if you are indigent or low income if you face any charge that has the potential for you to be incarcerated, including misdemeanors. Felonies are punishable by a term in state prison for more than one year though there are circumstances where a defendant is sentenced to probation and a suspended sentence, probation and community service.

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Felons can also be sentenced to formal probation and time served in county jail, probation only, or have the prison sentence served under a home monitoring system. California felonies have low, mid and high term sentences. For example, for a felony conviction under Penal Code —Shooting at an Inhabited Dwelling or Occupied Vehicle , you face a low term of 3 years, a mid term of 5 years and a high term of 7 years in state prison.

If the statute pertaining to the offense states that the sentence is pursuant to PC h , the sentence is to be served in county jail, otherwise it is in state prison. This is relevant for record expungement purposes. For certain felonies, there are diversionary programs where if successfully completed, the defendant can have the charges dismissed. This is true for certain first and second drug offenses where these cases are heard in drug court where intensive treatment is the goal.

In other matters, diversion or deferred entry of judgment , is offered where the defendant does enter a guilty plea that is withdrawn if the drug program is successfully completed and the charges dismissed. The consequences of a felony conviction on your life is substantial.

Unless you can obtain an expungement, which in and of itself does not totally restore all of your civil rights, you will face considerable obstacles in finding suitable employment and housing among other difficulties.

California sets new limits on who can be charged with felony murder

If you already have a professional license, most licensing bodies will either suspend or revoke your license. There are numerous states around the nation that have implemented three strike laws, and California has one of the most far-reaching and severe three-strikes punishments. Some common examples of serious "strike" crimes include:. A third strike for a violent felony conviction will bring a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life in prison without eligibility for parole.

This is not to say that a second strike is any less serious.

Being convicted of a second strike can cause a person to face double the penalty for their new offense and require them to serve at least 80 percent of their sentence before being eligible for early release. If your charge is considered your third strike, or if you are fighting to have your charge not being counted as a strike, it is crucial that you act fast. See what our experienced Fairfield three strikes lawyer can do to protect your future.

A number of different offenses can result in a person receiving a strike on their record. All of these offenses either involve inflicting serious injury to another person, using or threatening to use a weapon, gang enhancement, or are sexual in nature. Each crime is then assigned to a particular class.

California Judicial Council Rules

California, along with some other states, does things differently. In California, lawmakers fix punishment on a crime-by-crime basis. In many states, lawmakers set a range of possible imprisonment, such as three to five years, and the judge is permitted to craft the appropriate sentence within the range.

In California, except for the most serious crimes that are punishable by life imprisonment, such as murder, lawmakers have set three possible terms: the low-, mid-, and high-term sentence.

What's the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

The judge must choose one of these three terms at sentencing. For more information on this offense, see Assault with a Firearm in California. If lawmakers have failed to set a punishment for a particular felony, it is punishable by 16 months or two or three years in prison and a fine. Many crimes in California are wobblers. If the crime is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, it will be punishable by up to days in jail and a fine. Grand theft auto is an example of a crime that may be tried and punished as a misdemeanor or a felony. For more information on this crime, see What are the consequences and penalties of auto theft in California?

California has a recidivist sentencing law, meaning that people who have prior felony convictions and are convicted of another crime can be sentenced to very long prison terms. For more information, see Three Strikes and You're Out.