These cases do not expose the accused to State Prison sentences and are deemed less serious. Nonetheless, these cases can have a significant affectation on the lives of those accused. County Jail exposures can be up to 1 year, with formal Probation supervision, and steep fines, which are just a few examples of consequences directly related to a misdemeanor conviction.
Other less obvious impacts can include disadvantages in family court proceedings (as in domestic violence allegations), DMV restrictions or suspensions (as in DUI cases), professional licensing suspensions (as in a wide variety of cases, including simple possession of narcotics), prevention of gun ownership (an ever-evolving field that involves coordination with local probation departments and the DOJ), lost job and volunteer opportunities (especially in light of expanded background check requirements and Livescan developments), and public or private attacks on one’s character and integrity (particularly when dealing with crimes of violence or involving “moral turpitude”).
Further, misdemeanor cases in criminal court do not provide for deposition opportunities (nor a preliminary hearing), and therefore must be investigated via investigators for the defense. The defense case must be built and attacked from this adversarial posture, occasionally leading to a trial by a jury of 12 peers. These trials can involve very narrow issues of combined law and factual disputes or can be complex and lengthy experiences that involve extensive pretrial motion litigation (EC code section 402), forensic expert testimony, multiple percipients or character witnesses, well-planned cross-examination executions, and impassioned closing arguments.