Common Misdemeanors and How They Can Impact Your Life (2023)

Misdemeanor Criminal Charges

What are Misdemeanor Criminal Charges?

The legal definition of misdemeanor varies depending on jurisdiction.

Conversely, going through the legal process in California for committing a common misdemeanor is anything but fun. However, it has the same basic mechanics as a sandcastle contest - the person who commits the gravest misdemeanor gets the most severe punishment as imposed by the law.

What is a misdemeanor?

The legal definition of misdemeanor varies depending on jurisdiction.

In the United States, a misdemeanor is classified as a criminal offense with lesser penalties than a felony but has greater punishment than an infraction. Crimes considered as felonies are homicide, murder, burglary, rape, and kidnapping. Examples of infractions are littering, committing minor traffic violations, walking a dog in public without a leash, fishing without a license, not having a business license or permit, and jaywalking.

What are common misdemeanors?

Common misdemeanors include possession of controlled substances or drugs, petty theft, vandalism, perjury, prostitution, indecent exposure, trespassing, basic assault, resisting arrest, public intoxication, and DUI (Driving under the Influence).Some jurisdictions refer to the person who commits a misdemeanor as a misdemeanant.

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Some jurisdictions refer to the person who commits a misdemeanor as a misdemeanant.

Can a common misdemeanor be elevated to a felony?

If you have committed a misdemeanor more than once, your charges can be elevated to a felony. The usual example is a driving violation that has been done twice or repeatedly. At the same time, if such a misdemeanor was committed with aggravating elements or circumstances, then you can be automatically charged with a felony. Examples are misdemeanors committed in the presence of a minor or if they were perpetrated to cause cruelty or depravity to the victim.

What is a wobbler?

If you’ve been to a sporting event where fans are given figurine replicas of famous athletes with wobbly heads that bounce from left to right, you’ll have a better understanding of what a wobbler is.

In the legal world, a person who has committed a crime that may or may not be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony is sometimes referred to as a wobbler. Depending on the type of crime that was committed, the jurisdiction dictates whether it will be classified under misdemeanor or felony; or misdemeanor or infraction.

To illustrate, if you have committed a DUI which caused death or some serious damage to property, then your misdemeanor charges may be elevated to result in more serious penalties when they get reclassified as a felony. Brandishing a weapon or assaulting someone with a deadly weapon is also considered a wobbler.

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In the same manner, your felony charges may be reduced to a misdemeanor charge based on legal factors and circumstances. Oftentimes if the misdemeanant pleads guilty, the misdemeanor charges are downgraded to mere infractions.

What are the penalties for common misdemeanors

Different jurisdictions have specific classifications with corresponding penalties for misdemeanors. Generally, misdemeanors involve fines and jail time where the misdemeanant is ordered to spend time in the local jail. Infractions, on the other hand, do not involve jail time.

In California, common misdemeanors fall under two categories – standard and gross (or aggravated).For standard misdemeanors, the misdemeanant may be ordered to spend up to 6 months in a county or local jail and pay a fine that does not exceed $1,000.

Gross or aggravated misdemeanors are more severe crimes that have heavier penalties. If you are convicted of a gross or aggravated misdemeanor, jail time can be as long as 364 days and you may pay a fine that exceeds $1,000.

Common misdemeanors that fall under standard include public intoxication, possession of drugs or controlled substances, prostitution, petty theft, shoplifting and trespassing. If you have been charged with indecent exposure in public, your first offense is considered a standard misdemeanor.

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Gross or aggravated misdemeanors include DUI charges that did not result in injury and domestic battery. If your driver’s license has been suspended and you continue to drive your vehicle and get pulled over by authorities, you will be charged with gross or aggravated misdemeanor.

What should you expect after being charged with a common misdemeanor

The legal process has a system that needs to be followed after a misdemeanor arrest has been made.

If you are in California and get arrested or charged for a misdemeanor, expect to have an arraignment where you appear in court for a formal reading of your crime. There you will be formally charged and given an opportunity to plea. Depending on the severity of your misdemeanor, you may go through additional processes such as bail hearings, pre-trials and jury trials; and if you’re not satisfied with the results of your legal trials, you may have the opportunity to appeal your case to a higher court.

Do common misdemeanors show up in background checks?

Even though misdemeanors are considered less serious offenses as compared to felonies, the legal system does not discriminate when it comes to documenting the crimes that were committed. Your misdemeanor charges will be on your criminal records and will stay on your criminal record permanently - for life. If anyone is doing a criminal background check on you, your misdemeanor charges will definitely show up.

With regard to employment background checks, your criminal record may or may not appear depending on how thorough and meticulous the employer’s background checks are designed to be. Because common misdemeanors are processed locally, a state background check run by the employer may not catch your criminal record unless the process being used is more in-depth and inclusive.

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How do you get a common misdemeanor off your record?

Getting your misdemeanor charges off your record is possible depending on the jurisdiction. If you have only committed a single common misdemeanor, your chances of getting it taken off your record is better than when you have multiple charges. However, a lengthy process of court appearances and endless trails or paperwork may be required and you must prepare for it. Expungement also involves a lot of time and filing fees that vary by location.

In California, expungement is possible but it requires a process which involves reopening your criminal case and getting your criminal conviction dismissed in court.

To begin the process of getting your criminal record erased, you have to make sure you are eligible for it. When filing for expungement, you must not be currently serving another criminal sentence or charged for another criminal offense and that one year has already passed since your misdemeanor conviction.

How does a common misdemeanor charge affect you?

Committing a misdemeanor can change your life.

Although some people tend to dismiss common misdemeanors such as DUI, public intoxication or vandalism as minor, committing them can impact the most important aspects in your life especially when it comes to fostering personal, business or social relationships.

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Having a permanent criminal record as a result of being convicted of a misdemeanor also has a huge influence on the outcome of your efforts to obtain jobs or seek opportunities, be elected in civic or societal positions, or maintain existing positions, titles and licenses.

Because your criminal record is public and permanent, it may also significantly affect your credibility as a person which can change the way people treat you as an individual whether or not you had exemplary behavior and character prior to your conviction.

If you have any questions about the information provided above, please contact us today. Call us toll free at (800) 215-1190 or fill out out online form for your Traffic Law driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol lawyer referral.


How does a criminal conviction affect your life? ›

When you think about it, crimes are treated differently under the law, with more serious crimes receiving more severe punishment. People with violent or sexual offences on their criminal record will find it much more difficult to find a job, housing, and access other support.

What happens if you lie about a criminal record on a job application? ›

Many employers ask at some point and if your convictions are unspent, you legally need to disclose them. If an employer asks and you don't disclose, they could later revoke the job offer or you could be dismissed.

Do I have to disclose spent convictions when applying for a job? ›

Once a caution, reprimand, conviction or final warning is spent, you don't need to disclose it to most employers. It is against the law for an employer to investigate spent convictions unless you are applying for a job which is exempt from this Act.

Will a criminal record affect my job? ›

You may be concerned as to whether employers have the right to retract a job offer if they find out about your past conviction or caution. By law, employers are not able to rule out job applications because of previous convictions, as long as the conviction or the caution has been 'spent'.

What impact would having a criminal record have on your future? ›

A criminal history can affect a person interested in going to college, attending trade school, or starting their own business. Not only can schools deny a person because of their criminal history, but certain drug or sexual convictions also prohibit you from receiving grants or student loans.

How hard is life with a criminal record? ›

There are collateral consequences to having a record that many do not realize including: difficulty obtaining a job; additional steps to go back to school; restrictions on where one can live and/or travel; and having various rights and privileges revoked or restricted.

How long does a misdemeanor stay on your record? ›

How long is a misdemeanor on your record? A misdemeanor stays on your record for life unless you successfully petition for expungement. There is no preset “expiration date” for misdemeanor crimes. Even though misdemeanor offenses are less serious than felonies, they are still serious breaches in the eyes of the law.

Do Background Checks miss things? ›

Criminal records are filed alphabetically by last name, not by Social Security number. Depending on the search method, even a minor deviation in spelling could cause a researcher to miss a record that belongs to your subject.

What jobs can you not do with a criminal record? ›

What about spent convictions?
  • Jobs that involve working with children or vulnerable adults.
  • Senior roles in banking or finance.
  • Law enforcement roles, including the police and judiciary.
  • The military, navy and air force.
  • Work involving national security.
  • Certain roles in healthcare, pharmacy and the law.
19 Jun 2017

What do employers care about in background check? ›

An employer might check on information such as your work history, credit, driving records, criminal records, vehicle registration, court records, compensation, bankruptcy, medical records, references, property ownership, drug test results, military records, and sex offender information.

How far back does a basic disclosure go? ›

Standard DBS checks can go as far back as possible, as there is no limit. This is because they show everything a basic does, as well as both spent and unspent convictions.

Can you refuse to work with someone with a criminal record? ›

There is no legal concept of 'discrimination on the basis of having a criminal record', as there is for discrimination on the grounds of age or disability.

What jobs can people with criminal records do? ›

Criminal Record jobs in London
  • Specialist Caseworker Girls and Young Women Affected by Criminal and Sexual Violence. Safer London4.0. ...
  • Female Security Officer. Heathrow4.0. ...
  • Ticket Desk Agent. Menzies Aviation3.0. ...
  • Customer Service Agent. ...
  • Security Officer. ...
  • Projects and Programmes Support Officer. ...
  • Duty Worker. ...
  • E Cargo Bike Rider.

How can I get a job with a criminal record? ›

How to get a job when you have a criminal record
  1. Know your rights. ...
  2. Know what your conviction is. ...
  3. Find out how the DBS/disclosure rules apply to you. ...
  4. If you have to disclose your conviction, develop a strong disclosure. ...
  5. Apply for the job.
20 Jan 2022

What are three effects of crime? ›

It is a common knowledge among scholars that crime generally reduces safety, disrupts social order, creates chaos and confusion, hinders community collaboration and trust and creates serious economic cost to both the people and the nation at large.

What is the most important disadvantage of criminal background checks? ›

Offensive. Some people find the use of background checks a violation of their personal liberties, and companies run the risk of offending highly qualified candidates by undertaking them.

Does a criminal record matter? ›

Your criminal record can impact many areas of life, from job applications to applications for housing and the process for obtaining visas to enter foreign countries should you wish to travel abroad.

How do I move on from a criminal past? ›

After a criminal charge or arrest, follow these tips to keep moving forward.
  1. Accept What Happened. ...
  2. Know Life Will Be Different. ...
  3. Re-evaluate Your Relationships. ...
  4. Stay Away from the Media Circus. ...
  5. Hire an Expungement Attorney. ...
  6. Consider a New Business Venture. ...
  7. Final Thoughts.
14 Feb 2019

How many years does it take for a criminal record to clear? ›

a period of 10 years has passed after the date of the conviction for that offence. you have not been convicted and sentenced to a period of imprisonment without the option of a fine during those 10 years.

Does a criminal record disappear after 10 years? ›

You do not qualify for criminal record expungement if: It has not been 10 years since the conviction. Your name is either listed in or has not been removed from the National Register for Sex Offenders or the National Child Protection Register. You were sentenced to prison without the option of a fine.

Can you go to jail for a misdemeanor? ›

Misdemeanor offenses are considered to be minor crimes as compared to felonies, but they still can lead to jail sentences. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor offense, it is important for you to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

How do you get misdemeanors expunged? ›

In order to expunge your record, you must file a Petition to Expunge with the Circuit Court where your case concluded. In most cases, you are required to appear before the Court and prove that you are a good person and that the public has no need to keep your arrest record public.

Can you be a teacher with a misdemeanor in Texas? ›

So, to answer the question: Can you be a teacher in Texas with a misdemeanor? Yes, technically you can be. This being said, it's still a very high possibility that you can be let go from your position, especially if the offense occurred during your employment.

What causes a red flag on a background check? ›

If there is a felony on your criminal record, it could be a red flag for employers. A history of violent crimes, sexual offenses, robberies, or serious drug offenses can make it difficult to pass a background check. However, it can still be possible to get a job even if you have a criminal history.

Should I be nervous about a background check? ›

Background checks uncover a lot, and a less than stellar history might make you anxious. Another concern may be an inaccurate background check, especially if this has been an issue in the past. These issues are a concern for anyone in the market for a new job.

What shows up on a routine background check? ›

Criminal background checks will reveal felony and misdemeanor criminal convictions, any pending criminal cases, and any history of incarceration as an adult. Arrests pending prosecution may also be reported, and in some cases, arrests that did not lead to a criminal conviction may also appear.

What is the seven year rule? ›

Under federal law, the consumer reporting agencies cannot report an arrest over seven years old. However, they may report a conviction no matter how old it is. So, if you are arrested and the charges are dismissed, the consumer reporting agency is not supposed to report the arrest if the arrest is over seven years old.

Can you work for the police with a criminal record? ›

If you do have any criminal convictions or cautions on record you can still apply, eligibility will depend on the age and nature of the offence.

Can employers see if you were fired? ›

You are right to be aware that your prospective employer may check on the reasons you left your job. Most employers conduct background or reference checks during the interview process. If you've been terminated for cause, it may well come up during their investigation.

Can you fail pre employment checks? ›

There could be several reasons why a candidate might fail a pre-employment background check. If that were the case, how should the hiring organisation or HR team deal with the challenges this brings? It is crucial to understand some common reasons why someone might not pass a company's specific background checks.

How do you know if you failed an employer background check? ›

You can determine whether you failed an employee background check if you have any of the following seven disqualifying factors:
  1. Inconsistent employment history. ...
  2. Inaccurate resume information. ...
  3. A criminal history. ...
  4. Negative reviews from employers. ...
  5. Poor driving record. ...
  6. A failed drug or alcohol test. ...
  7. Poor credit history.
25 Aug 2021

Will common assault be filtered? ›

Some examples of offences eligible for filtering (and therefore unlikely to show in a DBS Check) include: Being drunk and disorderly. Common assault.

What convictions stop you working with vulnerable adults? ›

For work with vulnerable adults, the relevant categories are generally considered to be violent and sexual offences. Offences of dishonesty such as fraud may be relevant if the nature of the post involves unsupervised access to money and valuables. However, even here, one should distinguish between offences.

What convictions can never be spent? ›

What do spent and unspent convictions mean? Some crimes will stay on your criminal record indefinitely, such as violent or serious sexual crimes that impact safeguarding, or if an offence resulted in a prison sentence of more than two and a half years.

What disqualifies you from getting a job? ›

You lied on your resume, or there are inconsistencies.

Employers almost always contact references to verify details about previous jobs, such as the time period you worked there, and to gain an idea of your duties and work ethic. Likewise, a background check can also determine when and where you obtained your degree.

Can you ask if someone has a criminal record in an interview? ›

Meaning, under California law, it is against the law to ask an applicant any questions regarding an applicant's criminal history during interviews or on the job application itself. Employers should update their hiring procedures to ensure compliance with California hiring laws.

Does my partners criminal record affect me? ›

The chief officer will take into account the police record of any 3rd party who is either a partner or lives with the applicant of a DBS check. They will need to decide if it is reasonable and proportionate to disclose this information and at all stages of the process, they must record their rationale.

What happens if I have a criminal record? ›

When you think about it, crimes are treated differently under the law, with more serious crimes receiving more severe punishment. People with violent or sexual offences on their criminal record will find it much more difficult to find a job, housing, and access other support.

How do I clear my spent convictions? ›

The only way to get your conviction removed from police records is to appeal against the conviction through the courts. You will need to seek legal advice if this is something you wish to pursue. I was told my conviction would be removed after five years.

Can a spent conviction stop me getting a job? ›

Employers at businesses are not legally allowed to discriminate against applicants because of spent convictions unless of course, the DBS check shows they are unsuitable for the role.

Can I ask why I failed a background check? ›

Ask for a chance to explain

If the employer has not already offered, ask if it's possible for you to explain any discrepancies. Some background checks may fail for minor reasons, like small inconsistencies in your resume or an inability to contact a previous employer.

Is it hard to fail a background check? ›

There's a chance you will fail a background check if you have a criminal history. This is particularly true if the offenses on your record are relevant to the job you're applying for (i.e. if you committed a sexual offense and are applying to work with children).

Do I have to disclose my conviction? ›

You only have to disclose your record to an employer if they ask you. Many employers ask at some point and if your convictions are unspent, you legally need to disclose them. If an employer asks and you don't disclose, they could later revoke the job offer or you could be dismissed.

Can I get a job while on bail? ›

CAN YOU STILL WORK WHILE ON BAIL? The short answer is Yes. It would be best if you keep your job while out on bail and using a bail bonds near me because of several reasons. The need to report to work is also one of the compelling reasons why someone wants to bail out from prison.

Does my partner's criminal record affect me? ›

The chief officer will take into account the police record of any 3rd party who is either a partner or lives with the applicant of a DBS check. They will need to decide if it is reasonable and proportionate to disclose this information and at all stages of the process, they must record their rationale.

What does it mean to live with conviction? ›

Put simply, a conviction is a belief of which we are thoroughly convinced. I don't mean that we merely believe that a given set of statements is true but that we are convinced that these truths are essential and life changing. We live out of these truths and are willing to die for these truths.

What are convictions in life? ›

Professor of Psychology, Linda Skitka writes, “convictions are attitudes that are treated more like possessions or aspects of the self.” In other words, convictions are not just mere opinions, but they are firm beliefs that define who we are. They help determine parameters that in turn charts a course for our lives.

What can't you do with a criminal record? ›

A criminal record can hold you back in many ways. However, it doesn't have to be a life sentence.
What are the 11 main things you can't do with a criminal record?
  • Easily find a place to live. ...
  • Become a teacher. ...
  • Get into the medical field. ...
  • Work with kids. ...
  • Get a gambling job. ...
  • Handle money. ...
  • Get bonded for your business. ...
  • Volunteer.
19 Jan 2017

How long does a criminal record stay on your name? ›

a period of 10 years has passed after the date of the conviction for that offence.

Is it possible to love a criminal? ›

While there are more risks to involving yourself with a criminal/law-breaking individual than an “average Joe,” it is still possible to have a loving relationship. However, you need to be aware of who you may be dealing with and how that relationship can affect your life in the short term and the long term.

How criminal records are checked? ›

Criminal Records Check

Criminal Suit State Court Criminal verification of candidates is done by using the online database links shared publicly by the District Court, State's High Court and also the Supreme Court of India.

How do I get a strong conviction? ›

13 Keys in Developing Strong Convictions
  1. Remember that what you do when no one is watching matters.
  2. The means matter as much as the ends, if not more.
  3. Hang in there. ...
  4. Often we grow as much through the little things as we do through the big ones.
  5. Truth is critical. ...
  6. Don't rationalize your way around honesty.

What does emotional conviction mean? ›

Conviction is the strong belief that your behavior is right, moral, and consistent with your deeper values. The best way to know that you're acting out of conviction and not resentment or arrogance (based on a feeling of certainty), is to state why your behavior is right and moral.

What is deep conviction? ›

Deep Conviction features four ordinary Americans who put their reputations and livelihoods at risk as they fought to protect their first amendment right to live their personal beliefs.

What are examples of convictions? ›

conviction noun (OPINION)

a feeling of being certain about something: He said he was enjoying his new job, but his voice lacked conviction. She had a firm conviction that they would meet again in the hereafter. His speech carried so much conviction that I had to agree with him.

What can cause to conviction? ›

Causes of Wrongful Conviction
  • Mistaken witness id. Eyewitness error is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in 72% of convictions overturned through DNA testing. ...
  • False Confession. ...
  • false forensic evidence. ...
  • perjury. ...
  • official misconduct.

What is conviction in love? ›

Sometimes loving with conviction means going against our own human nature to be selfish or defensive. This isn't easy, but I am allowed to be human and so are you. So, love yourself in all the same ways you love outside of yourself, because conviction demands you live like you mean it.

Can you wipe a criminal record? ›

The only way to get your conviction removed from police records is to appeal against the conviction through the courts.


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