Criminal charges in California are divided into three classifications: Infractions, misdemeanors and felonies. While the type of charge dictates the potential penalty (fine, jail or prison) it is not indicative of whether you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney.
For example, someone facing a traffic infraction, may well benefit from consulting with an attorney in cases where they feel they have been unjustly charged or in instances where an additional driving infraction could trigger a license suspension, job loss or higher insurance rates.
Those facing a misdemeanor or felony charge in California, should always consult a defense attorney to discuss their rights.
Felony crimes always require the knowledge and experience of a defense lawyer. A criminal conviction on a California felony charge carries long-term criminal consequences, including serious prison time, probation, fines and court costs, and post-conviction restrictions that can have serious long-term consequences. Additionally, a criminal conviction can prevent you from holding certain jobs, obtaining loans or renting apartments and can lead to long-term damage to your reputation with friends, families and co-workers and reduce your quality-of-life for decades to come.
Too often, clients charged with misdemeanors make the mistake of not seeking the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. People facing misdemeanor charges sometimes have little experience with the legal system, have never been in trouble with the law, and mistakenly believe that defense lawyers are only needed for felony charges. However, California misdemeanor charges can have very serious consequences, which can include up to a year in jail, fines, court costs, probation and other court restrictions that can lead to additional criminal charges and penalties.