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Criminal Justice Glossary of Terms
Appellate Court: This court, usually a panel of three justices, hears cases on appeal from a superior court. In California, there are six appellate court districts.
Drug Court: A special court that combines intensive judicial supervision with rehabilitation services.
Felony: This is the most serious type of offense. Felonies are crimes for which an offender may be sentenced to state prison for over one year. Felonies are classified as "violent" or "serious." Violent felonies include rape, robbery, and murder. Serious felonies include all violent felonies, as well as other crimes such as assault with intent to commit robbery and burglary of a residence.
Infraction: The least serious offense, is punishable by a fine. Most vehicle code violations are infractions. You can not be jailed for an infraction. However, failure to appear on a ticket can result in a misdemeanor which is punishable by jail.
Jail: A jail is a correctional facility, usually at the county level, where persons who are convicted, serve up to one year. The jail also houses defendants awaiting trial.
Misdemeanor: A misdemeanor is a less serious offense than a felony. if convicted of a misdemeanor, a defendant may serve up to one year in jail, be sentenced to probation, ordered to pay a fine, and attend certain programs ordered by the court. Examples of misdemeanors include DUI, shoplifting, assaults, and crimes which can be treated either as a felony or misdemeanor ("wobblers") e.g. grand theft, domestic violence, etc…
Parole: After an inmate is released from prison, they are supervised by parole officers, usually for three years (though lately parole periods have been running approximately eighteen months).
Prison: A correctional facility run by the California Department of Corrections where convicted felons are incarcerated.
Probation: County level supervision of offenders instead of a prison or jail sentence.
Recidivism: The segment of inmates who after being released from custody, are later returned to prison or jail for committing another offense.
Revocation: Refers to the process of revoking an offender's probationary or parole status and returning them to custody for a violation of their terms of release.
Supreme Court of California: The highest court which reviews appellate court decisions.
Superior Court or Trial Court: Is the court for most legal proceedings. There is a superior court located in each county in California.