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Superior Court of California - County of San Diego: Criminal: Criminal Case Types

About Criminal Cases


Infraction crimes are not punishable by imprisonment.

A person charged with an infraction is not entitled to a trial by jury, and is not entitled to be represented by court-appointed counsel at public expense unless the person is held in custody.

The most common infractions are vehicle moving violations, which are typically charged/filed on traffic citations.

Infraction violations may not require a court appearance and can be processed in the Clerk's Office. However, if a defendant wishes to appear in court, he or she may schedule a court date to appear for arraignment and/or court trial.


Misdemeanor crimes are generally punishable by a fine and/or a county jail term of one year or less. However, some offenses exceed these general criteria; for example, spousal abuse can carry a larger fine.

Common examples of misdemeanor violations include petty theft, prostitution, vandalism, and drunk driving.


Felony crimes are punishable by a sentence to state prison for at least one year, or death.

Some examples of felony crimes are murder, possession of dangerous drugs for sale, robbery and rape.

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