Most Common Misdemeanors in California

In the state of California, a misdemeanor is considered to be a more minor crime, but it still has some strict consequences. If you are arrested for a misdemeanor, you will be held in police custody until your bail hearing, and if you do not have bail money, you will either have to contact a bail bond agent or remain in jail until your trial. Being convicted of misdemeanor charges can result in up to a year of jail time and a fine of over $1,000. There are many different crimes that count as a misdemeanor, but some happen far more than others do. These tend to be the most common types of misdemeanors in California. 

Standard California Misdemeanors

Standard misdemeanors are the mildest category of misdemeanors in California law. A standard misdemeanor may be punishable with up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. 

The most common standard misdemeanors are:

    • Drug possession: Drug possession is having a controlled substance without a prescription.
    • Drunk in public: You can be convicted of being drunk in public if you are so intoxicated in a public place that you cannot care for yourself, impair the safety of others, or interfere with others’ ability to use public spaces.
    • Shoplifting: Shoplifting is attempting to take without paying for property under the value of $950 from a commercial establishment while the establishment is open.
    • Prostitution: California law defines prostitution as anyone over the age of 18 paying, accepting money, or offering to accept money for sexual acts.
    • Indecent exposure: Indecent exposure is willfully exposing genitals to others for the purpose of sexual gratification or offense.
  • Petty theft: This is stealing an object under the value of $400.

Aggravated California Misdemeanors

Aggravated or gross misdemeanors are considered a little more severe than standard misdemeanors. They have extra penalties involved, so they may be punishable by up to 364 days in jail or a fine over over $1,000. 

These are the typical gross misdemeanors in California:

    • DUI without injury: This occurs when you drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, yet no one is injured. It is only a misdemeanor if you have no other DUI convictions.
    • Domestic battery: Domestic battery is willful and harmful or offensive touching against a cohabitant, significant other, or parent of your child.
    • Driving with a suspended license: Once your license is suspended, can get a driving with a suspended license conviction if you continue to drive.
  • Restraining order violation: You may be charged with this if you have a restraining order against you and you violate the terms of the order.

California Wobbler Offenses

There are crimes that can be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor and there are crimes that can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or an infraction depending on the circumstances. These misdemeanor charges are left up to the discretion of the prosecutor, who will take into account the case facts and the defendant’s history when deciding if the California wobbler offenses will be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor

These are the common misdemeanor or felony wobblers:

    • Assault with a deadly weapon: Assault with a deadly weapon is an assault with a weapon that could cause great bodily injury.
    • Brandishing a weapon: Brandishing a weapon means displaying or exhibiting a weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening manner.
    • Elder abuse: Elder abuse includes neglect, physical abuse, financial exploitation, and emotional abuse.

These are the common misdemeanor or infraction wobblers:

    • Trespassing: Trespassing is defined as entering or remaining on someone else’s property without the permission and right to do so.
    • Disturbing the peace: Disturbing the peace includes using offensive words in public for the purpose of provoking violence, disturbing another willfully with loud noise, or unlawful fighting in public.

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