Appellate Court: A court that hears cases on appeal from a superior court. There are six appellate court districts in California.
Collaborative Court: Special courts that combine intensive judicial supervision with rehabilitation services. Collaborative courts typically focus on a particular issue, such as substance abuse, mental health, or domestic violence.
Felony: The most serious type of crime, for which an offender may be sentenced to state prison for a minimum of one year. Felonies include various property and drug crimes, as well as crimes against persons. Certain felonies are classified in state law as “violent” or “serious.” Violent felonies include murder, robbery, and rape. Serious felonies include all violent felonies, as well as other crimes such as burglary of a residence and assault with intent to commit robbery.
Infraction: The least serious type of criminal offense, generally punishable by a fine. Many motor vehicle violations are considered infractions.
Jail: A correctional facility managed at the local level where convicted offenders serving less than one year are incarcerated and where offenders awaiting trial are held.
Misdemeanor: A less serious crime than a felony, for which an offender may be sentenced to probation, county jail, a fine, or some combination of the three. Examples of misdemeanors include assault, petty theft, and public drunkenness.
Parole: Community supervision of offenders after they are released from prison, generally for three years.
Prison: A state-run correctional facility where convicted felons are incarcerated.
Probation: Community supervision of offenders in lieu of a prison or jail term. Also, community supervision of offenders after they are released from jail.
Recidivism: The percentage of inmates released from prison (or jail) during a particular period who are returned to prison (or jail) for any reason during a specific follow-up period.
Revocation: The return of an offender on parole (or probation) to custody because the offender violated one of the conditions of parole (or probation). Revocations may result from “technical” violations, such as failing to report for a drug test, or from violations that themselves could constitute a new crime.
State Supreme Court: The highest court in California — it reviews decisions made by the appellate or superior courts (however, it is possible for some cases to move directly to the Supreme Court without a lower court hearing them first).
Superior or Trial Court: The court where most legal proceedings begin. There is one superior court (also known as a trial court) in each county.