There is a significant difference between offenses that are charged as Misdemeanors and those that are filed as Felonies. Misdemeanors generally have lower sentences and consequences, and do not emphasize a seriousness that felonies carry with them. Felonies almost always require imprisonment of some sort, and higher consequences. Felonies also mean that there was extensive injury or damage which gave rise to the charge.
Many times a code section under which the criminal charge arises will specify whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. Sometimes it can be charged as either, and the ultimate charge will be determined by Prosecutors.
Let’s consider some examples of both. California Penal Code §550 makes it unlawful for a person to knowingly present or cause to be presented a false or fraudulent claim for the payment of a loss or injury, including payment of a loss or injury under a contract of insurance. In addition, under the same code section it is unlawful for a person to make a statement that is intended to be presented to any insurer or insurance claimant in connection with or in opposition of any claim for payment or other benefit pursuant to an insurance policy, knowing that the statement contains false or misleading information.
The consequences for the charges varies, and depending under which subsection it is charged, it can be a felony or a misdemeanor. This may include imprisonment or fines.
Compare with a Los Angeles Hit and Run. Oftentimes prosecutors will charge a person with a felony hit and run when it should be a misdemeanor.
Dina was charged with a Los Angeles felony Hit and Run. She immediately consulted with a Los Angeles Criminal Offense lawyer who started an investigation into the facts of the case. The attorney finds that all medical expenses totaled to $600.00 and there was no hospital stay or significant injuries. After skillful negotiation and investigation, he was able to persuade prosecutors that the facts of the incident do not give rise to a felony, but should have been a misdemeanor instead.
Dina would not have been aware of the fact that the charges against her were misfiled, if she had not spoken to a legal expert that was ready to fight for her.
The charges that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony are referred to as a “wobbler”. A wobbler is charged based on the facts of the case, and therefore, careful research and investigation can lead to a change in the charges. If you find yourself in a situation where charges against you are improperly brought, and should be reduced or even dismissed, do not take a chance. Speak to a highly experienced and knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney who can argue on your behalf and do the diligent leg work that needs to be done in order to get the case reduced or dismissed. A simply phone call can change the entire outcome of your case!