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Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
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Misdemeanors vs. Felonies in California

We are going to explain the difference between misdemeanors and felonies in California, but first we want to point out that state-level offenses are not the same as federal offenses. You see, there are state crimes, which are enacted by state legislators and there are federal crimes, which are enacted by Congress. For the purpose of this post, we are discussing state crimes, specifically misdemeanors and felonies.

California (state-level) offenses fall into three categories: 1) infractions, 2) misdemeanors, and 3) felonies. Infractions are the least serious and typically involve traffic offenses. Misdemeanors are in the middle and felonies are the most serious.


Generally, misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in county jail, or by a fine of $1,000, or by a fine and confinement.

Common misdemeanors include:

  • Vandalism
  • Petty theft
  • Public intoxication
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Prostitution (first offense)
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving while license suspended
  • Possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana


As mentioned earlier, felonies are the most serious type of crime in California and in all states. If you are found guilty of a felony, you could be imprisoned in jail or a state prison for at least one year. If you committed a particularly heinous crime, you could even receive the death penalty.

Common examples of felonies include:

If you’re facing criminal charges in Orange County, it’s critical that you enlist the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc., we handle both state and federal criminal defense; therefore, we are positioned to fight hard for your freedom and your rights, regardless of the type of charges you’re facing.

To get started, contact our firm to schedule a free criminal defense consultation!