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California Penal Code -

       The Penal Code is the main repository of the criminal laws of California. It is primarily based on statutes enacted by the state legislature but it also contains laws modified by initiatives and referendums.

       In California, the general rule is that the person is presumed to know the law. So it is generally no defense that someone did not know about the law or that it did not apply to them. That is why it is important to know the law. You can either go to Law School and learn the law or contact a licensed attorney in California to find out what the law is and how it might apply to you.

What is a Crime?

       A crime is an act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it, and to which there is one of the following punishments:

  1. Death;
  2. Imprisonment;
  3. Fine;
  4. Removal from office; or,
  5. Disqualification to hold office. Penal Code §15.

       Most of the criminal laws of California are set forth in the Penal Code. It covers most of the crimes, from infractions to misdemeanors to felonies.

What are Felony Crimes?

       A felony is a crime which is punishable with death or by imprisonment in the state prison. If no actual amount of time in prison is stated in the law, then it is deemed to be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years. The least amount of imprisonment is called the mitigated term, the middle term is the mid-term and the highest amount is the aggravated term.

What are Misdemeanor Crimes?

       Every other crime is a misdemeanor except for those offenses that are classified as infractions. Unless a different punishment is prescribed by law, every misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by both. When a crime is punishable, in the discretion of the court, by imprisonment in the state prison or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail, it is a misdemeanor for all purposes after a judgment imposing a punishment other than state prison. Penal Code §17.

What are Infractions?

       An infraction is not punishable by imprisonment. A person charged with an infraction is not entitled to a trial by jury. The most common example would by a traffic ticket for speeding or running a red light.
In addition to the punishment as stated, there are additional monetary fines and restitution amounts that may be assessed.

       For more information on the Penal Code in California including the terms felonies, misdemeanors and infractions, please visit the sub categories under the main category, California Penal Code in this website.

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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