What Are The Three Categories Of Arrestable Offenses?
The Penal Code defines criminal offenses. This program will not attempt to cover all of them, but will cover many of the most common ones. The Penal Code classifies crimes into three categories: Infractions, Misdemeanors, and Felonies.
Infractions are offenses that are punishable only by a modest monetary fine. There is normally no jail sentence imposed for committing an offense, which is defined as an infraction, and the person committing the offense is normally cited at the scene in a fashion similar to the issuance of a traffic citation. The offender is normally not taken into custody or arrested but merely detained for purposes of issuing the citation. For the most part, infractions are reserved for specified traffic violations such as speeding (California Vehicle Code §40000.1), though other statutes impose infraction penalties as well (smoking on public transportation, Health and Safety Code §25949.8; littering public property, Penal Code §374.4.) Because most infractions occur on public property, public highways and roadways, or in areas not routinely patrolled by private security, most security guard/proprietary private security officers will not be confronted with situations involving the violations of laws which carry infraction penalties. Nor are private security guards/proprietary private security officers normally authorized to issue citations, commonly known as notices to appear in court. For this reason, enforcement of laws involving infractions are usually reserved for law enforcement officers.