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Los Angeles Felony Attorney
What Is Considered a Felony in California?
There are certain crimes that are “wobblers,” which can be prosecuted as either felonies or misdemeanors. For instance, a wobbler offense of sexual battery could be punishable as a misdemeanor by up to 364 days in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,000 or as a felony by incarceration for 2, 3, or 4 years and a fine of $10,000. Other such wobbler offenses are assault with a deadly weapon, forgery, and vandalism.
Note – that violating a domestic violence protective order is a misdemeanor for a first offense but may be treated as a wobbler under some circumstances if they have prior convictions.
Felony Sentencing Options
Felonies are usually punished by a low prison term, middle prison term, or high prison term in either state or county jail. The duration of these terms will depend on the crime. For instance, a low prison term for felony burglary is 2 years, which could differ for a felony murder. Generally, a California offender receives the middle term, and courts in Los Angeles County are required to impose sentences on the lower end of the penalty range if no extraordinary circumstances are present. If aggravating factors are present, though, such as the use of a weapon or involving extreme violence in the crime, the judge may order a high term. Note that under the Public Safety Realignment Act, California requires that convicted felons serve their sentences in county jail rather than state prison, unless:
Additionally, California’s “three strikes” law establishes that defendants with prior convictions for serious or violent felonies must serve alternative, lengthier sentences in state prison if they have 2 or more prior convictions. Such an additional sentence could be as long as 25 years to life in prison, unless the current conviction isn’t for a serious or violent felony. Convicted individuals must also serve an extra 5 years as a sentence enhancement for each previous conviction for a serious felon
California judges have the discretion to convert all or part of a defendant’s sentence to formal (felony) probation. Felony probation is primarily meant to rehabilitate offenders so they can reintegrate properly into society. It allows offenders to serve most or all of their sentences under probation supervision rather than in physical custody. A sentence generally includes up to 1 year in county jail, but individuals sentenced to formal probation usually serve little jail time. Courts in Los Angeles County are required to grant probation in eligible cases without aggravating circumstances, and an experienced attorney can help ensure this option is obtained.
Be aware that probation requires the defendant to comply with certain conditions, such as:
Any violation of the probation terms will result in a return to prison to serve out the rest or entirety of the original sentence. If not otherwise specified, felony probation typically lasts 2 years for non-violent felonies, but it can last up to 3 years for grand theft, embezzlement, or false personation that involves property worth more than $25,000.