Misdemeanors and Infractions
Crimes in California are designated in three separate categories, ranked by their seriousness: Felony, Misdemeanor and Infraction. (Felony crimes, punishable by State Prison time, are the most serious offenses.)
Misdemeanor crimes are less serious offenses. Generally speaking misdemeanor crimes are punishable by a fine/probation or county jail time of a year or less. Examples of misdemeanor crimes are DUI (no accident/injury), shoplifting, disturbing the peace and some traffic offenses (No license, Exhibition of Speed, Street racing, Speeding over 100mph).
Although relatively minor crimes, a misdemeanor record can have serious negative consequences for licensing, educational or employment opportunities. An attorney should be consulted prior to entering a plea in court.
Infractions are minor offenses punishable only by a fine. Traffic tickets are typically infractions, with some exceptions for serious vehicular misconduct. Traffic tickets should not be taken lightly as convictions mostly carry DMV “demerit” points and can cause substantial insurance rates for years. You should speak with a traffic citation defense attorney before going to court on any traffic ticket.