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If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you can plead guilty or not guilty at the arraignment. Or, if the court approves, you can plead nolo contendere, meaning that you will not contest the charges. Legally, this is the same as a guilty plea, but it cannot be used against you in a non-criminal case unless the charge can be punished as a felony. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you may be sentenced to up to one year in the county jail. You can not be sent to prison, if you are only convicted of a misdemeanor. Depending on the crime and the county, weekend work release, an ankle monitoring device or community service may be available instead of county jail time. Contact an attorney for more information. Types of Misdemeanors
  • Assault causing bodily injury
  • Burglary
  • Resisting arrest
  • Perjury
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Unlawful possession of a weapon
  • Violation of a restraining order
  • Criminal mischief
  • Criminal trespass
  • Certain types of terroristic threats
  • Certain types of assault
  • Indecent exposure
  • Prostitution
  • Graffiti
  • Theft of property
  • Criminal mischief
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Reckless damage or destruction
  • Leaving a child unattended in a vehicle
  • Issuing a bad check
  • Falsely reporting a missing child or person


Common misdemeanors include petty theft, simple assault, disorderly conduct, trespassing, and vandalism. These crimes are less severe than felonies but still carry significant legal repercussions.

Penalties for misdemeanors typically include fines, probation, community service, and up to one year in county jail. The severity of the penalty often depends on the nature of the crime and any previous criminal history.

Yes, many misdemeanors can be expunged from your criminal record in California. However, you must have completed your sentence, including any probation, and not be facing any new charges. Consult a legal expert for advice tailored to your specific situation.

For misdemeanors, bail is usually set at a lower amount than for felonies. Some misdemeanors may even be eligible for “cite and release,” where the accused is released with a written promise to appear in court.

While you have the right to represent yourself, having an attorney can significantly improve your chances of a favorable outcome. A skilled lawyer can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal system, and negotiate for reduced charges or penalties.

Note: This FAQ is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney for your specific legal needs.

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