According to arrest data gathered from the FBI, around 80 percent of all arrests can be classified as misdemeanors, aka small crimes that carry a maximum sentence of one year. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 13 million misdemeanor cases find their way into a prosecutor's lap every year. That's why many Californians may be interested to know that the misdemeanor system carries an inequality that favors the well-off over the poor.
When people in California face criminal charges, they could be accused of either felonies or misdemeanors. Some of the most common types of criminal cases, including first-time DUI charges, prostitution offenses or even panhandling or squatting, are classified as misdemeanors. These charges can still have serious effects, including a sentence of up to a year in prison as well as fines and a criminal record.
The governor of California signed a bill on June 27, 2017, ending the state's longtime practice of suspending driver's licenses for unpaid traffic citations. In doing so, he cited the fact that studies have shown that suspending the driving privileges of low income individuals only perpetuates an endless cycle of job loss and persistent poverty.