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Penal Code 18.5 PC | Misdemeanor Sentences

Penal Code 18.5 PC – Misdemeanor Sentences

If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor in California, you’re probably wondering what the potential penalties could be. Penal Code 18.5 PC is an important law that caps misdemeanor sentences at 364 days in county jail. Let’s break down what you need to know about misdemeanor sentencing and how 18.5 PC affects it.

What is Penal Code 18.5 PC?

Penal Code 18.5 PC states that any misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to one year in county jail is actually capped at 364 days in jail. Here is the full text of the law:

18.5. (a) Every offense which is prescribed by any law of the state to be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail up to or not exceeding one year shall be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed 364 days. This section shall apply retroactively, whether or not the case was final as of January 1, 2015.

(b) A person who was sentenced to a term of one year in county jail prior to January 1, 2015, may submit an application before the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction in the case to have the term of the sentence modified to the maximum term specified in subdivision (a).

In other words, even if a misdemeanor statute says the offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail, 18.5 PC limits the actual maximum jail term to 364 days. The purpose is to distinguish misdemeanors from felonies, since felonies carry a minimum sentence of 365 days in jail.

How Does 18.5 PC Affect Misdemeanor Sentencing?

Prior to 2015 when 18.5 PC took effect, misdemeanors and felonies had the same maximum and minimum jail sentences – one year or 365 days. Now, with the 364 day cap, there is a one day separation between the maximum misdemeanor sentence and minimum felony sentence.

This small change can have a big impact though. By capping misdemeanor jail time at 364 days, 18.5 PC ensures misdemeanors carry less severe sentences than felonies. It also prevents situations where a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor but faces penalties close to a felony.

In practice, 18.5 PC limits the jail sentence for “wobblers” – offenses that can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies – to 364 days. It also restricts the ability of judges to impose the maximum one year sentence for serious misdemeanors like domestic violence.

What Are Common Misdemeanor Sentences?

While 18.5 PC caps jail time at 364 days, most misdemeanors have much lower sentences. Here are some common misdemeanor punishments in California:

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Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
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2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
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Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
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Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
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divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • Up to 6 months in county jail for “regular” misdemeanors
  • Up to 1 year in county jail for “gross” misdemeanors under 18.5 PC
  • A fine up to $1,000
  • Informal probation
  • Community service
  • Restitution to victims
  • Participation in counseling or treatment programs

Judges have wide discretion in sentencing for misdemeanors. They can impose any lawful sentence up to the 364 day maximum under 18.5 PC. They are supposed to consider factors like:

  • The severity of the offense
  • The defendant’s criminal history
  • Aggravating and mitigating circumstances
  • The likelihood of recidivism

In practice though, misdemeanor sentencing varies widely between courts and judges. Some judges impose only probation or fines for first-time offenses. Others hand down jail sentences even for petty misdemeanors. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney can help negotiate the best possible sentence.

Does 18.5 PC Apply Retroactively?

Penal Code 18.5 went into effect on January 1, 2015. The law states it applies retroactively to cases not finalized as of that date. However, some confusion exists on whether retroactivity applies to immigration cases.

Unfortunately, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that 18.5 PC does not apply retroactively for immigration purposes. This means non-citizens sentenced to one year misdemeanor jail time prior to 2015 may still face immigration consequences as if it were a felony.

For criminal cases though, 18.5 PC does apply retroactively. Defendants sentenced to a full year in jail for a misdemeanor before 2015 can petition the court to reduce their sentence to 364 days. This can help remove barriers to expungement, restoration of gun rights, and other post-conviction relief.

How Can an Attorney Help with Misdemeanor Charges?

Dealing with misdemeanor charges can be stressful, but a criminal defense lawyer can help guide you through the process. An attorney can assist with these key steps:

  • Investigating the charges – Your attorney can interview witnesses, collect evidence, and build defenses to fight the charges.
  • Negotiating with the prosecutor – In many cases, your attorney can negotiate with the DA to reduce charges or sentences.
  • Guiding you through court – If your case goes to trial, your lawyer can defend you in court and advocate for the best possible outcome.
  • Avoiding immigration issues – Your attorney can help craft a plea deal to avoid negative immigration consequences if you are a non-citizen.

Having experienced legal counsel can make all the difference in how your case is resolved. Don’t leave the outcome to chance – consult an attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.

Fighting Misdemeanor Charges with a Dedicated Attorney

No one expects to be charged with a crime. But even a misdemeanor conviction can hurt your reputation, freedom, and finances. Don’t go through it alone – call an attorney to fight for your future.

At the Law Offices of [Your Firm Name], our attorneys have successfully defended thousands of misdemeanor cases. We know how to investigate the charges, negotiate with prosecutors, and build the strongest possible defense. With our aggressive advocacy, many of our clients have achieved reduced charges, avoided jail time, or had their cases dismissed entirely.

Don’t leave your fate to chance. Schedule a free case evaluation now and speak with one of our dedicated misdemeanor defense attorneys. We are available 24/7 to provide skilled and compassionate counsel. Call [phone number] or contact us online to get started.

 

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