Penal Code section 17; Felony; misdemeanor; infraction; classification of offenses
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PC 17. Classification of Offenses:
(a) A felony is a crime which is punishable with death or by
imprisonment in the state prison. Every other crime or public offense
is a misdemeanor except those offenses that are classified as
(b) 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 under the following
(1) After a judgment imposing a punishment other than imprisonment
in the state prison.
(2) When the court, upon committing the defendant to the Youth
Authority, designates the offense to be a misdemeanor.
(3) When the court grants probation to a defendant without
imposition of sentence and at the time of granting probation, or on
application of the defendant or probation officer thereafter, the
court declares the offense to be a misdemeanor.
(4) When the prosecuting attorney files in a court having
jurisdiction over misdemeanor offenses a complaint specifying that
the offense is a misdemeanor, unless the defendant at the time of his
or her arraignment or plea objects to the offense being made a
misdemeanor, in which event the complaint shall be amended to charge
the felony and the case shall proceed on the felony complaint.
(5) When, at or before the preliminary examination or prior to
filing an order pursuant to Section 872, the magistrate determines
that the offense is a misdemeanor, in which event the case shall
proceed as if the defendant had been arraigned on a misdemeanor
(c) When a defendant is committed to the Youth Authority for a
crime punishable, in the discretion of the court, by imprisonment in
the state prison or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail, the
offense shall, upon the discharge of the defendant from the Youth
Authority, thereafter be deemed a misdemeanor for all purposes.
(d) A violation of any code section listed in Section 19.8 is an
infraction subject to the procedures described in Sections 19.6 and
(1) The prosecutor files a complaint charging the offense as an
infraction unless the defendant, at the time he or she is arraigned,
after being informed of his or her rights, elects to have the case
proceed as a misdemeanor, or;
(2) The court, with the consent of the defendant, determines that
the offense is an infraction in which event the case shall proceed as
if the defendant had been arraigned on an infraction complaint.
((e) Nothing in this section authorizes a judge to relieve a
defendant of the duty to register as a sex offender pursuant to
Section 290 if the defendant is charged with an offense for which
registration as a sex offender is required pursuant to Section 290,
and for which the trier of fact has found the defendant guilty.
The information provided herein was obtained from the California Penal Code 2010.