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Understanding the Difference between Felonies, Misdemeanors and Infractions in Orange County 2024

January 1, 2024

Understanding the Difference between Misdemeanors, Felonies, and Infractions in Orange County, CA call the best criminal defense lawyer in orange county
Understanding the Difference between Misdemeanors, Felonies, and Infractions in Orange County, CA

Navigating the criminal justice legal system can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to understanding the various classifications of crimes. 

In Orange County, California, crimes are typically classified as misdemeanors, felonies, or infractions. Each category carries its own set of implications and potential consequences. 

This article will provide a basic comprehensive overview of these classifications, shedding light on what differentiates them and their significance within the Orange County legal system.


Misdemeanors are generally considered less serious offenses compared to felonies. They encompass a range of crimes, including:

  1. Petty theft (property valued at less than $950)
  2. Simple assault
  3. Trespassing
  4. Driving under the influence (DUI)
  5. Disorderly conduct
  6. Possession of marijuana (in specific amounts)
  7. Prostitution (solicitation or engaging in)
  8. Vandalism (damage to property)
  9. Reckless driving
  10. Public intoxication
  11. Domestic violence (misdemeanor-level offenses)
  12. Shoplifting (property valued at less than $950)
  13. Disturbing the peace
  14. Possession of drug paraphernalia
  15. Harassment (including cyber-harassment)

It’s important to note that the specific classification of an offense as a misdemeanor may depend on the circumstances and the specific statutes in California law. 

Additionally, certain offenses that may be misdemeanors on their own can become more serious charges if certain factors are present, such as prior convictions or the commission of the offense in a specific context.

If you need more detailed information or need legal advice, consult a qualified attorney or refer to the California Penal Code for accurate and up-to-date information.

Misdemeanors in California are punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail, fines, summary probation, work release, community service, or a combination of these penalties. However, it is important to know that offenses may carry specific penalties beyond the maximum one-year sentence, depending on the circumstances.


Felonies are more serious crimes that often involve violence, significant property damage, or other grave offenses. Examples of commonly charged felonies include:

  1. Murder (first-degree, second-degree, or manslaughter)
  2. Robbery (theft by force or threat)
  3. Rape and other sexual offenses
  4. Burglary (breaking and entering a structure with the intent to commit a felony)
  5. Kidnapping
  6. Assault with a deadly weapon
  7. Drug trafficking and drug possession with intent to sell
  8. Grand theft (property valued above a certain threshold)
  9. Identity theft
  10. Embezzlement (misappropriation of funds entrusted to one’s care)
  11. Felony DUI (driving under the influence causing injury or multiple DUI convictions)
  12. Felony domestic violence (certain offenses involving violence or injury)
  13. Fraud (including insurance fraud, credit card fraud, or welfare fraud)
  14. Arson (intentional burning of property)
  15. Carjacking (taking a motor vehicle by force or threat)
  16. Money laundering
  17. Human trafficking
  18. Conspiracy to commit a felony
  19. Gang-related offenses (such as participation in a criminal street gang)
  20. Felony assault on a peace officer or firefighter

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and the classification of an offense as a felony may depend on the specific circumstances and California law. Felony charges carry significant penalties, including imprisonment in state prison and substantial fines.

For accurate and up-to-date information about specific offenses or legal advice, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney or refer to the California Penal Code.

The severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history are essential factors in determining the length of the prison sentence.


Infractions are considered less serious offenses compared to misdemeanors and felonies. They usually involve minor violations of regulations or local ordinances, such as traffic violations, littering, or noise disturbances.

Infractions are often subject to fines, community service, or mandatory attendance at educational programs. Unlike misdemeanors and felonies, infractions do not carry the risk of incarceration.

As a matter of law, individuals accused of infractions do not have the right to a trial by jury.

Three Strikes Law

The California Three Strikes law is a significant legal provision that applies to certain felony offenses. Under this law, individuals who commit serious or violent felonies and have two or more prior convictions for serious or violent offenses may face enhanced penalties.

For example, if you are convicted of a third strike offense, the defendant could receive a mandatory prison sentence of 25 years to life.

It is important to note that the Three Strikes law has undergone revisions, and its application may vary based on specific circumstances.


If you have been charged with a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction charges in Orange County, you need the criminal defense lawyers at ALL Trial Lawyers by your side.

The attorneys at ALL Trial Lawyers are trial attorneys with years of experience. They know the law and are not afraid to take your case to trial.In addition, they have a strong reputation among judges and prosecutors throughout Southern California, which has delivered tremendous victories for their clients.

Our ultimate goal is to provide the best results that can be achieved in your case— whether by way of outright dismissal, a favorable plea bargain deal, or an acquittal of the charges at trial. With ALL Trial Lawyers by your side, you can rest assured that the criminal team will be giving you their all.

Call (866) 811-4255 right now for your free consultation.

We have an office located near you. We have experience fighting cases in Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and San Diego County.

If you have been accused or charged of a crime, you must speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.



Understanding the distinctions between misdemeanors, felonies, and infractions is essential for individuals navigating the legal system in Orange County, California.

Each classification carries its own set of implications and consequences. While misdemeanors and infractions typically involve less severe penalties, felonies can result in significant prison sentences and other severe repercussions.

It is crucial to consult with legal professionals to ensure accurate advice tailored to individual circumstances.

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