Under California law, there are three main types of charges

Under California law, there are three main types of charges that can be brought against a party and they include infractions, misdemeanors and felonies. Each brings a unique set of punishments and will affect your life in different ways. It is important to understand the severity of the situation you have been dealt so that you may take the necessary steps to limit the effect it will have on your life. The first step of this process is understanding the charges that you face.


An infraction is technically not considered a criminal charge and it does not carry incarceration or jail time as a possible punishment. Infractions cannot result in probation either, meaning that if you are charged with an infraction, the only punishment you can receive is financial. Infractions can involve anything from your standard motor vehicle violations, to jay walking or littering.

With regards to your criminal record, infractions will appear on your driving record, court records and local police agency records, but are generally not reflected on your Department of Justice (“DOJ”) records because they are not considered as serious as a misdemeanor or a felony.


A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is generally punishable by a fine, incarceration in a local jail, or both. Many states classify misdemeanors into three separate categories to determine the level of punishment, but in California, the severity of punishment is determined on a crime-by-crime basis, and if no punishment is fixed in the statute, it could include up to 6 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Misdemeanors charges can be brought against an individual for a wide range of activities including shoplifting, petty theft, public intoxication, simple assault, trespassing, vandalism and prostitution.

Misdemeanors will be reflected in your local records and the DOJ records due to the severity of the crime, and can affect your ability to secure employment, financing and housing.


Felonies are the most serious charges that can be brought against an individual in the state of CA. Currently, depending on the felony you have committed, punishment can include fines, life in prison and/or death by lethal injection. The severity of your punishment will be determined based on the type of felony you have been charged with.

Felonies are often referred to as “true crimes” and include homicide, rape, arson, burglary, robbery, larceny, escaping from prison and assisting in a felony. Felonies will show up on all criminal records, including local police and court records, and all DOJ records. A criminal record that includes a felony can have serious implications on your life, and in the state of CA, you will have your right to possess a firearm taken away.


In the state of California, prosecutors are given the option to file some crimes as either misdemeanors or felonies, based upon the specific facts of the case and/or your criminal history. These crimes are called “Wobblers” and if you are charged for a felony, will carry all the same penalties as a felony conviction. There are many different crimes that are considered Wobblers in the state of CA, and they span across the criminal spectrum. Assault, vehicular manslaughter, and insider trading are examples of crimes that could be brought as misdemeanor or felony charges in California.

Although it is imperative to secure proper legal representation for any and all charges filed against you, it is especially important if you have been charged with a “wobbler” offense. The difference between penalties for a misdemeanor charge and a felony charge are immense. Call a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer Richard Chan today to discuss your charges.

Charged With A Crime? Know Your Rights!

Many of us feel nervous or intimidated when confronted by the police and rightly so! According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “Police abuse continues to be a major civil liberties problem in the U.S., particularly in poor communities and communities of color.”

While most law enforcement officers are decent and honest public servants, there remain a few who are corrupt and abusive. In order to protect your civil rights from being trampled and to maximize your chances of winning your case, we have compiled a list of ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones. If you have been arrested you need to contact an experienced Sacramento criminal attorney today.


  1. Do not make any statements. Invoke your right to remain silent
  2. Immediately ask for a lawyer.


  • DO NOT allow the police to search your car.
  • If they are asking you for consent to a search they probably do not have the right to look without your consent.

Under what circumstances can the police arrest you? Anytime there is a “probable cause” to believe that you are committing or have committed a crime. The police have a probable cause when there are enough facts to lead a reasonable person to conclude that you are committing or have committed a crime. This is a considerably higher standard than the mere “suspicion” an officer needs in order to stop you briefly to investigate possible criminal activity.

Can a police officer make an arrest without a warrant? Sometimes. The officer doesn’t need a warrant to arrest you if you commit a crime in his or her presence, for instance. A warrant also isn’t necessary if the officer has probable cause to believe that you committed a felony, even though it was not committed in his or her presence. Otherwise, the officer generally needs a warrant to make an arrest.

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, contact Sacramento criminal attorney Richard Chan for free consultation about your criminal or DUI defense case now. Call (916) 446-4400 today.


After you are arrested, the police must advise you of your Miranda rights before they can question you. But in a mere “stop and frisk” situation, the police do not have to advise you of your Miranda rights before questioning.

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Northern California, contact Sacramento criminal defense attorney Richard Chan for free criminal defense case consultation. If the police are conducting a routine investigation and asking a number of people what they know about the crime, each person need not be advised of his or her Miranda rights before questioning.

What are the Miranda rights?

In the 1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an incriminating statement obtained during a “custodial interrogation”- one in which you are not free to leave anytime you want-is not admissible in court unless, before the police begin to question you, they advise you of certain fundamental rights: that you have the right to have an attorney present during questioning; and that if you want to have an attorney present but you cannot afford one, one can be provided for you without cost.

After the police read you your Miranda rights, they will ask whether you understand these rights. If you reply that you do, you will be asked whether, having your rights in mind, you wish to talk to the police at that time, without the presence of a lawyer. If you agree to talk to the police, you have waived your Miranda rights, and any confession or incriminating statements you make can be used against you in court. To ensure that there is no dispute about whether the police have read you your Miranda rights, some police departments will have you sign a card that contains the Miranda rights and states that they were read to you and that you understand them.

Contrary to what you are accustomed to seeing on television, the police do not have to read you your Miranda rights the moment they arrest you. They only have to inform you of your rights before they question you. Often the arresting officers will not ask a suspect any questions and will leave that task to the detectives back at the station. Since the arresting officers aren’t asking you any questions (“interrogating” you), they don’t need to advise you of your Miranda rights. Suppose the arresting officers don’t read you your rights and don’t ask you any questions, but on the way back to the station you blur out that you are sorry you committed the crime. In this instance, the remark can be used against you at trial; the police weren’t questioning you, so they didn’t have to inform you of your rights.