What is a misdemeanor?
A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by imprisonment in a county or city jail or detention facility not to exceed one year. Except where the law specifies a different punishment, a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months and/or a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars. (Pen. Code § 19.2)
What is a wobbler?
A wobbler is an offense that can either be charged as a misdemeanor or can be elevated to a felony.
Some misdemeanors in California can be elevated to wobblers. These include different degrees of assault, fraud, vandalism, battery, hit and run, possession of a firearm, criminal threats, domestic violence, and embezzlement.
What is a felony?
A felony is a crime that is punishable with death, by imprisonment in the state prison, or notwithstanding any other provision of law, by imprisonment in a county jail. (Pen. Code, § 17). At times a felony can be punishable by a prison sentence of sixteen months or up to life in prison.
California classifies its felonies into White Collar Crimes, Drug Crimes, Sex Crimes and Violent and Serious Felonies.
White Collar Crimes
White Collar Felonies are crimes that are "paper crimes." These include fraud, bribery, forgery, perjury, identity theft, embezzlement, computer crimes, and others.
Felonies associated with drugs include possession, distributing, manufacturing, and possession with the intent to sell.
Sex crimes are more severe and often can result in sex offender registration for certain crimes. This category includes sexual abuse, illegal possession of pornography, sexual assault, and continuous sexual abuse of a child.
Violent and Serious Felonies
Violent and Serious Felonies are the final category of felonies and are the most severe. These can include, but are not limited to, mayhem, kidnapping, murder, involuntary manslaughter, arson, California felony DUI, grand theft involving a firearm, and others.
Note: This is not an exhaustive list of criminal offenses in California. This is not to be used as legal advice. This merely an explanation of some of the law in California.