Felonies are serious crimes and usually carry severe punishments and fines and have long-term consequences for the perpetrator. In California, felonies are crimes for which you can be sentenced to more than one year. The consequences of a felony conviction can significantly affect one’s life and that of their loved ones. Avoiding a felony conviction and the resultant harsh implications is critical. If you are facing felony charges, it is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you reduce those charges or have your case dismissed.
But first, you need to understand what constitutes a felony in California and the various penalties and fines for felony crimes. Let us look at what is considered a felony in California and other essential information to help you understand California’s criminal justice system.
Classification of Crimes in California
California crimes are classified into misdemeanors and felonies. Felony crimes are considered more severe than misdemeanors and usually carry significant penalties, from hefty fines and probation to life imprisonment without parole.
There are two types of felonies under California law:
Criminal offenses that can only be charged and sentenced as felonies without the option of being reduced to misdemeanors are called straight felonies. They include murder, rape, and lewd acts with a child under 14. Straight felonies are the most severe crimes and count as a “strike” on your record under California’s three-strike law.
Wobbler crimes in California can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor at the prosecutor’s discretion. The specifics of the case and one’s criminal history play a significant role when determining whether to charge a wobbler as a felony or a misdemeanor. Wobbler offenses include vandalism, grand theft, domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon, and forgery. If you have been charged with a wobbler felony in California, it is important to consult with a reputable criminal defense lawyer to help in reducing your case to a misdemeanor.
Common Felony Crimes in California
Some of the most common felony crimes in California include the following:
- Gross vehicular manslaughter
- Child pornography
- Lewd acts with a minor
Penalties for a Felony Conviction in California
Penalties for a felony in California vary depending on the specific facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history.
Felony sentencing in California can result in the following:
- Imprisonment for more than one year
- Fines of up to $10,000
In other cases, the court may convert all or part of a defendant’s sentence to felony probation.
Felony probation is designed to rehabilitate offenders by serving their sentence outside police custody rather than behind bars. During probation, the defendant must comply with specific terms and conditions, such as:
- Community service
- Regular check-ins with the probation officer
- Random drug and alcohol tests
If the terms and conditions are violated, a judge may revoke probation and send the defendant to prison to serve the maximum crime sentence. Other times, the judge can increase the probation time and impose more severe conditions of probation.
Felony probation generally lasts up to two years for non-violent crimes like theft. However, more severe theft offenses, such as grand theft, fraud, and embezzlement involving more than $25,000, attract a probation term of three years. Most felony crime offenders in California are generally sentenced to a middle term unless aggravating or mitigating factors exist. An aggravating factor may, for example, be where a weapon was used to commit the crime. On the other hand, mitigating factors may favor a defendant, such as having no prior criminal record or playing only a minor role in the offense.
Consequences of California Felony Crime Conviction
A felony conviction can have life-altering consequences beyond fines and the initial sentence. Individuals with felony convictions can also face consequences such as:
- The requirement to disclose the felony conviction in job applications
- Loss of the right to own a firearm
- Loss of voting rights
- The requirement to register as a California sex offender if the felony was a sex crime.
Expungement for Felony Crimes in California
Expungement refers to the legal process of clearing or sealing criminal records. If you have been convicted of a felony, you may qualify for expungement if:
- You were not sentenced to incarceration
- You are not currently charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence for a criminal offense
- You were not charged with sex offenses or violent crimes
Contact Our Los Angeles Experienced Felony Crimes Attorneys Today
If you have been arrested and charged with a felony offense in California, you may be facing potential life-altering consequences, and it is essential to seek the help of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney immediately. Contact the experienced felony defense attorneys at Kosnett Law Firm in Los Angeles, California, today at (310) 445-5900 to schedule a free consultation. We can help build a robust defense strategy and reduce the charges or penalties against you.