Definition of Felony

Of the different levels of offenses, felonies are the most serious.  There are two other levels of crimes: misdemeanor and infraction.  These are lesser offenses and are often punished with shorter sentences and smaller fines than felonies.  Felonies can land someone in prison for over a year with hefty fines levied against them.  The long lasting effects of being convicted of a felony range from being unable to vote while incarcerated or on parole or probation, to being unable to own guns for the rest of your life.

Felony Offenses

Degrees of Offense

When dealing with a felony, most states have a degree system in place to help define how severe the crime was.  In California, the degrees are first, second, and third.  Unlike most other states, California does not have a class system in place that helps set certain crimes as more severe or less severe as a group.  Instead, lawmakers look at each crime individually and set standards for how to sentence that crime individually.  If there is a crime committed that they haven’t set a standard for, then there’s a default set of punishments that can be given depending on the degree of the crime.

Each crime’s first, second, and third degree has different standards.  A prosecutor will have to prove a couple of things in order to make the crime a certain degree.  For example, a prosecutor has to prove that there was intent in order to up a murder conviction from second-degree to first-degree.  The criteria needed to up the offense’s degree will depend on the crime and the standards set by the state.

In California, crimes are given standards for punishments.  Every crime is looked at individually by the lawmakers and then given a high, medium, and low punishment.  It makes it easy for judges to decide just how to punish the crimes.

In other states, just to compare, most crimes are put into classes or levels.  The way that this is done varies from state to state, but one of the more common ways of classifying crimes is with a class system that ranges from class A to class E.  Classes A and B are the most severe crimes while classes D and E are on the less severe side.  Class C sits somewhere in the middle of the five classes.  Crimes that are in class A may have the same statute of limitations and punishment ideals.

Straight Offenses

When being charged with a felony offense in California, there is a category of offenses called straight offenses.  These offenses are ones that will be charged as felonies regardless of the degree that is associated with the offense.  

Wobbler Offenses

On the other hand, there are wobbler offenses.  These are usually third-degree felonies.  These offenses can be bumped down to misdemeanors instead of felonies.  This can be done in several ways, including how the judge convicts the person or sentences them or from how the prosecutor decides to try and go after the defendant.

There are also wobbler offenses between misdemeanors and infractions, but a felony offense will not jump down into an infraction.  However, the jump from a felony to a misdemeanor is already a big one because of the decrease in sentence and fines that would be faced by the defendant.

Sentencing

As mentioned before, sentencing crimes in California is actually managed by lawmakers.  The lawmakers create the standards for a punishment, and the judges pick from the sentences that are available for the crime and uses that for the defendant if they are convicted.  

There are exemptions to this rule, such as murder.  The few felonies that do not have standards are either flexible and up to the judge, or the lawmakers did not set a punishment for the crime.  In that case, the crime will either face four, eight, or twelve years in prison.  There is a similar set of default punishments for misdemeanors as well.

Alternative Sentences

Although felony convictions usually result in prison time, there is always the chance that you can get out of it with probation.  There’s also a chance that you can avoid jail time by paying a pretty large fine instead.

However, probation can still result in jail time.  The jail sentence would be a year or less in jail, but in reality, most people that are given probation are not given any jail time or very little jail time.

Probation sentences are designed to help get people back into a law-abiding life.  The total time that a person may spend on probation could be up to five years, although most see a period of about three years.  During that period, they will have a list of conditions that they have to comply with.  This list can be long or short depending on what the judge believes is best or based on the crime that was committed.

The most typical parts of probation are monthly meetings with a probation officer, individual or group therapy, community service, and searches of the person and property where they live.  There could also be random drug testing if they committed a drug crime as defined by California.  There could also be restitution payment involved.

Orange County Bail Amounts

When it comes to bail amounts, felonies will have some of the highest bail amounts on average.  However, that is a reflection of the kinds of crimes that were committed.  Because of the fact that it’s based on the crime, the amount that each individual faces for bail will vary greatly and will depend on the case that’s involved and the personal history of the defendant.

Felony IDDescriptionBail Amount
211 Robbery - First Degree
Robbery - Second Degree
$100,000
$50,000
243 (c,d)Battery- Upon peace officer, etc. with injury
With serious bodily injury
$50,000
$50,000
245 (c)Assault with deadly weapon other than a firearm or
force likely to produce G.B.I. upon a peace officer or firefighter
$50,000
245
(d)1
(d)2
Assault with a firearm upon a peace officer or firefighter
Assault with a semiautomatic firearm upon a peace officer or firefighter
$100,000
$200,000
273.5Corporal injury of spouse, cohabitant, former spouse,
or cohabitant or mother or father of his or her child With prior conviction
$50,000
$100,000
273.6Violtion of protective order$50,000
422Criminal Threats$50,000
459Embezzlement or falsification of accounts by public officers$25,000
424Burglary - Residential
Burglary - All Others
$50,000
$20,000
470 (a,b)Forgery/Counterfeiting Driver's License or I.D. card
Displaying or possessing forged driver's license or I.D. card
with intent to accomplish a forgery
$20,000
$20,000
471Forgery, false entries, in records or returns$20,000
472Forgery or counterfeiting any public or corporate seal$20,000
475Forged bills or notes possessing or receipt$20,000
476 (a)Fictitious checks, making, uttering
N.S.F. Checks
$20,000
$5,000
477, 479, 480Counterfeiting of coin$25,000
484
(b)
(c)
(e-1)
eft, diversion of money received for services, labor, material, etc.
if amount exceeds $2,350
Embezzlement of funds for construction
Various felonies related to credit cards

$20,000
$25,000
$20,000
487 (a,b)
(c)
(d)1
Grand Theft (or amount of theft, if higher)
Grand Theft Person
Theft of motor vehicle
with evidence of a chop shop operation
$20,000
$25,000
$35,000
$50,000
(d)2Grand Theft Firearm$50,000
496Receiving stolen property if valued more than $950,
or amount received, whichever is higher
$20,000
497Stolen properties, bringing into state, or amount stolen,
whichever is higher
$20,000

Felony Drug Bail Amounts

Felony IDDescriptionBail Amount
11054-11058Controlled substance defined: Schedules I, II, III, IV, V
11152, 11153Controlled substances, writing, dispensing, prescription$20,000
11154, 11155Controlled substances, prescribing, administering, furnishing to addict$20,000
11162.5 (a)Counterfeiting prescription blank$20,000
11350Illegal possession of certain specific or classified controlled substances$10,000
11351 Possession or purchase for sale of certain specific
or classified substances
Up to 1 kilogram
If over 1 kilogram
If over 4 kilograms
If over 10 kilograms
If over 20 kilograms
If over 40 kilograms
If over 80 kilograms


$30,000
$100,000
$250,000
$500,000
$1,000,000
$2,000,000
$5,000,000
11351.5Illegal Transportation, sale, furnishing of certain specific
or classified controlled substances
Up to 1 kilogram
If over 1 kilogram
If over 4 kilograms
If over 10 kilograms
If over 20 kilograms
If over 40 kilograms
If over 80 kilograms


$30,000
$100,000
$250,000
$500,000
$1,000,000
$2,000,000
$5,000,000
11357Marijuana, Possession
11357 (a)Concentrated Cannabis- Felony$10,000
11358Marijuana: Cultivate, process
Up to 1 lb.
If over 1 lb.
If over 25 lbs.

$20,000
$30,000
$50,000
11359Marijuana, possession for sale
Up to 1 lb.
If over 1 lb.
If over 10 lbs.
If over 25 lbs.
If over 50 lbs.

$20,000
$25,000
$30,000
$50,000
$100,000
11360Marijuana: Transportation, sale, furnishing
Up to 1 lb.
If over 1 lb.
If over 10 lbs.
If over 25 lbs.
If over 50 lbs.

$20,000
$25,000
$30,000
$50,000
$100,000
11361Marijuana: Person 18 Years or over using minor
under 14 in sale, transportation, giving to minor
Up to 25 lb.
If over 25 lb.
If over 50 lbs.

If over 25 lb.
If over 50 lbs.

$40,000
$50,000
$100,000
11366Maintain place for selling, giving, using of certain specific
or classified controlled substance
$30,000
11377Possession of controlled substances$10,000
11378Possession of controlled substance for sale
Up to 1 kilogram
If over 1 kilogram

$30,000
$100,000
11379Sale of controlled substances
Up to 1 kilogram
If over 1 kilogram
If over 4 kilograms

$30,000
$100,000
$250,000
11379.6 (a)Manufacture of any controlled substance$75,000