California Classifications Of Crime

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Our San Jose Criminal Attorney Explains Criminal Classifications

If you reside in California and perhaps plan on entering a life of crime as your primary career path, it may be important to understand the consequences of your actions and have an experienced criminal defense attorney on speed dial. Under the California Penal Code, the punishment level of crimes falls within these three categories.


Under California law, this category is the most heinous of criminal accusations. Although California forgoes the typical ranking systems often supported by other states, these following acts of criminal activity fall under the felony narrative.

White-collar crime – This classification includes such non-violent criminal activity often involving instances of fraud, bribery, identity theft, and computer-related offenses.

Drug-related infractions – Often arrests are made for those who aim to distribute or manufacture illegal substances but this category also includes those who are in possession of drugs with an intent to distribute.

Sexual-related infractions – For those involved in any form of sex trade alleged participation in a sexual assault, abuse, the illegal use of pornography, or sexual infractions involving a minor will be tried under the felony classification.

Violent felony infractions – Often the most serious category, these felonies involve the acts of kidnapping, murder, manslaughter, arson, and felony driving while under the influence or DWIs.


Aside from the fact that a criminal act is a criminal act no matter the severity, a misdemeanor charge is of a lesser degree punishable by California law. Currently, the following are examples of possible misdemeanor charges.

Petty theft and shoplifting – California takes petty theft and shoplifting quite seriously. If accused of either, the convicted may face criminal penalties which include both fines and possible jail time. The affected merchant may also be permitted to file a civil lawsuit against the actor to recover the number of lost damages.

Domestic battery – Under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC, California defines domestic battery as a willful and unlawful action that is considered either harmful or offensive against a spouse or any type of partner in a defined relationship both current or former.

Driving while under the influence (DWI) – Not to be mistaken with a felony DWI charge, California separates a misdemeanor DWI when the incident does not involve bodily injury or death to another person.

Probation violations – Under California Penal Code 1203.1, a judge may decide to suspend or reduce a sentence for those convicted of a misdemeanor or felony charge by forgoing jail time and placing the offender under parole or probation. California imposes a long list of probation infractions and the consequences of such parole violations can be severe.

Wobbler Laws

California, as well as other states, have what is known as Wobbler Laws. In this classification of law, the original charge can be a misdemeanor but based upon the severity of the criminal action may also be tried as a felony. Instances of Wobbler offenses include:

  • Assault and battery,
  • Criminal threats,
  • Drug possession,
  • Embezzlement,
  • Theft and property crimes, and
  • Weapons charges.

Crime is a risky business but sometimes being in the wrong place and the wrong time can also prove to be just as risky. If you reside in the San Jose or Bay Area and require the services of a trusted San Jose criminal defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Thomas Nicholas Cvietkovich today. With over 3,000 cases to date, attorney Cvietkovich is experienced and will fight for your legal rights. Contact Nick at (408) 898-9770 to schedule your no-cost, initial consultation today.


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