August 20

Misdemeanor and Infractions – What are the differences?

Court System


Misdemeanor and Infractions


What is a misdemeanor? Its legal definition is a crime that is less serious compared to a felony. California categorizes its crimes in 3 types. Felonies are the most serious, and usually end with years in prison. Misdemeanors are only punishable in jail for a max of up to a year. And lastly there are infractions that are mainly fines. The average or standard misdemeanors are usually punished as a 6 month sentence to jail and a $1,000 fine. There are large lists of crimes that qualify as a misdemeanor. However there are crimes that are on the border for misdemeanors. How the punishment carried depends on the facts of the case and your history. Examples of misdemeanor-felony crimes include elder abuse and assault. Examples of a misdemeanor-infraction crime include disturbing the peace and trespassing. However there are misdemeanors that do offer a harsher penalty. Some crimes increase the sentences.  Examples of these 2nd and 3rd DUI, domestic violence, and driving with a suspended license. When dealing with these charges it’s important to have a Criminal Defense Attorney who regularly deal with these matters. In addition, it’s also helpful for to have an attorney


There are differences between an aggravated misdemeanor and a felony. However a lot of the crimes can roll as either and the line is thin. A lot of misdemeanors will often cause you to go under a probation sentence. What this means is that the judge will grant you a chance to avoid jail time. However you must fill the conditions the judge gives to you. Popular examples include community service, roadside work, and house arrest through an electric monitoring system. You may also have to go see a psychiatrist or a counselor if asked by the judge or you may have to pay the victim compensation. Even if you commit crimes you can clear your criminal record. Expungement allows you to clear you record and start with a clean slate.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor then you need to know what you are dealing with. Speak with an attorney to see what you can do to.misdemeanor


Infractions in California are lowest types of crimes in the justice system. Felonies would be the most serious crimes that you go to prison or get the death sentence for. Misdemeanors which are punishable by a max of a year in jail. And infractions would be the tickets and very minor criminal offenses. The most common times you would face an infraction are the times you are driving on the road. The tickets the police give you after stopping you after you were speeding or doing an illegal U-turn is an infraction. An infraction is a punishment that does not put the person into custody or probation. And such the maximum fine a person under infraction can see would be up to $250.infraction

Types of Infractions

An infraction is usually the bottom of the chain in terms of the justice system. However there are crimes that do blur the line between an infraction and a misdemeanor. Crimes such as speeding and disturbing the peace can both be charged as wobblets. Wobblet are crimes that can be charged as either (in this case) a misdemeanor or an infraction. The circumstances that usually decide whether a crime passes as one of two includes criminal history and the crime itself. Usually in order for a wobbler to even be charged the crime would have to be one that would have to have criminal intent to cause harm or trouble for others. I.E. Speeding through the streets can cause harm to others. An illegal U-turn although it may cause trouble, does not need to hurt others to do it. Each case is handled separately and these are just guidelines.

If you were charged with a wobbler that came from a petty infraction, consult with an attorney. No one should be facing misdemeanor charges in place of a $250 fine.

When dealing with an infraction, the stakes are much lower. It is not necessary to hire an attorney. In fact, the state will nto provide attorneys to people who are accused of an infraction. However, if you a person is charged with a misdeameanor then they are facing potential jail time.  For example if you are charged with a misdemeanor case in Ventura then it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney about your case that is in Ventura County. However, if you are charged with a DUI in Orange County then it is important that you contact an Orange County DUI Attorney.

About the author 

Hieu Vu

“To the client, every angle is important, there’s a number of questions, and each person also have their own worries. Some will need a person to listen to them. At the end of the day, it’s more than just delivering legal results. I put a 110% into every person I work. I strive to make sure everyone knows what is going on and is kept in the loop as the case goes on. The practice of law is more than just getting the results in court.” -Hieu Vu

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