Code Section Group

Penal Code - PEN


PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS
  ( Preliminary Provisions enacted 1872. )

2.
  

This Code takes effect at twelve o'clock, noon, on the first day of January, eighteen hundred and seventy-three.

(Enacted 1872.)

3.
  

No part of it is retroactive, unless expressly so declared.

(Enacted 1872.)

4.
  

The rule of the common law, that penal statutes are to be strictly construed, has no application to this Code. All its provisions are to be construed according to the fair import of their terms, with a view to effect its objects and to promote justice.

(Enacted 1872.)

5.
  

The provisions of this Code, so far as they are substantially the same as existing statutes, must be construed as continuations thereof, and not as new enactments.

(Enacted 1872.)

6.
  

No act or omission, commenced after twelve o'clock noon of the day on which this Code takes effect as a law, is criminal or punishable, except as prescribed or authorized by this Code, or by some of the statutes which it specifies as continuing in force and as not affected by its provisions, or by some ordinance, municipal, county, or township regulation, passed or adopted, under such statutes and in force when this Code takes effect. Any act or omission commenced prior to that time may be inquired of, prosecuted, and punished in the same manner as if this Code had not been passed.

(Enacted 1872.)

7.
  

Words used in this code in the present tense include the future as well as the present; words used in the masculine gender include the feminine and neuter; the singular number includes the plural, and the plural the singular; the word “person” includes a corporation as well as a natural person; the word “county” includes “city and county”; writing includes printing and typewriting; oath includes affirmation or declaration; and every mode of oral statement, under oath or affirmation, is embraced by the term “testify,” and every written one in the term “depose”; signature or subscription includes mark, when the person cannot write, his or her name being written near it, by a person who writes his or her own name as a witness; provided, that when a signature is made by mark it must, in order that the same may be acknowledged or serve as the signature to any sworn statement, be witnessed by two persons who must subscribe their own names as witnesses thereto.

The following words have in this code the signification attached to them in this section, unless otherwise apparent from the context:

(1) The word “willfully,” when applied to the intent with which an act is done or omitted, implies simply a purpose or willingness to commit the act, or make the omission referred to. It does not require any intent to violate law, or to injure another, or to acquire any advantage.

(2) The words “neglect,” “negligence,” “negligent,” and “negligently” import a want of such attention to the nature or probable consequences of the act or omission as a prudent man ordinarily bestows in acting in his own concerns.

(3) The word “corruptly” imports a wrongful design to acquire or cause some pecuniary or other advantage to the person guilty of the act or omission referred to, or to some other person.

(4) The words “malice” and “maliciously” import a wish to vex, annoy, or injure another person, or an intent to do a wrongful act, established either by proof or presumption of law.

(5) The word “knowingly” imports only a knowledge that the facts exist which bring the act or omission within the provisions of this code. It does not require any knowledge of the unlawfulness of such act or omission.

(6) The word “bribe” signifies anything of value or advantage, present or prospective, or any promise or undertaking to give any, asked, given, or accepted, with a corrupt intent to influence, unlawfully, the person to whom it is given, in his or her action, vote, or opinion, in any public or official capacity.

(7) The word “vessel,” when used with reference to shipping, includes ships of all kinds, steamboats, canalboats, barges, and every structure adapted to be navigated from place to place for the transportation of merchandise or persons, except that, as used in Sections 192.5 and 193.5, the word “vessel” means a vessel as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 651 of the Harbors and Navigation Code.

(8) The words “peace officer” signify any one of the officers mentioned in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2.

(9) The word “magistrate” signifies any one of the officers mentioned in Section 808.

(10) The word “property” includes both real and personal property.

(11) The words “real property” are coextensive with lands, tenements, and hereditaments.

(12) The words “personal property” include money, goods, chattels, things in action, and evidences of debt.

(13) The word “month” means a calendar month, unless otherwise expressed; the word “daytime” means the period between sunrise and sunset, and the word “nighttime” means the period between sunset and sunrise.

(14) The word “will” includes codicil.

(15) The word “writ” signifies an order or precept in writing, issued in the name of the people, or of a court or judicial officer, and the word “process” a writ or summons issued in the course of judicial proceedings.

(16) Words and phrases must be construed according to the context and the approved usage of the language; but technical words and phrases, and such others as may have acquired a peculiar and appropriate meaning in law, must be construed according to such peculiar and appropriate meaning.

(17) Words giving a joint authority to three or more public officers or other persons, are construed as giving such authority to a majority of them, unless it is otherwise expressed in the act giving the authority.

(18) When the seal of a court or public officer is required by law to be affixed to any paper, the word “seal” includes an impression of such seal upon the paper alone, or upon any substance attached to the paper capable of receiving a visible impression. The seal of a private person may be made in like manner, or by the scroll of a pen, or by writing the word “seal” against his or her name.

(19) The word “state,” when applied to the different parts of the United States, includes the District of Columbia and the territories, and the words “United States” may include the district and territories.

(20) The word “section,” whenever hereinafter employed, refers to a section of this code, unless some other code or statute is expressly mentioned.

(21) To “book” signifies the recordation of an arrest in official police records, and the taking by the police of fingerprints and photographs of the person arrested, or any of these acts following an arrest.

(22) The word “spouse” includes “registered domestic partner,” as required by Section 297.5 of the Family Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 50, Sec. 65. Effective January 1, 2017.)

7.5.
  

Whenever any offense is described in this code, the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code), or the Welfare and Institutions Code, as criminal conduct and as a violation of a specified code section or a particular provision of a code section, in the case of any ambiguity or conflict in interpretation, the code section or particular provision of the code section shall take precedence over the descriptive language. The descriptive language shall be deemed as being offered only for ease of reference unless it is otherwise clearly apparent from the context that the descriptive language is intended to narrow the application of the referenced code section or particular provision of the code section.

(Added by Stats. 1998, Ch. 162, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1999.)

8.
  

Whenever, by any of the provisions of this Code, an intent to defraud is required in order to constitute any offense, it is sufficient if an intent appears to defraud any person, association, or body politic or corporate, whatever.

(Enacted 1872.)

9.
  

The omission to specify or affirm in this Code any liability to damages, penalty, forfeiture, or other remedy imposed by law and allowed to be recovered or enforced in any civil action or proceeding, for any act or omission declared punishable herein, does not affect any right to recover or enforce the same.

(Enacted 1872.)

10.
  

The omission to specify or affirm in this Code any ground of forfeiture of a public office, or other trust or special authority conferred by law, or any power conferred by law to impeach, remove, depose, or suspend any public officer or other person holding any trust, appointment, or other special authority conferred by law, does not affect such forfeiture or power, or any proceeding authorized by law to carry into effect such impeachment, removal, deposition, or suspension.

(Enacted 1872.)

11.
  

This code does not affect any power conferred by law upon any court-martial, or other military authority or officer, to impose or inflict punishment upon offenders; nor, except as provided in Section 19.2 of this code, any power conferred by law upon any public body, tribunal, or officer, to impose or inflict punishment for a contempt.

(Amended by Stats. 1989, Ch. 897, Sec. 4.)

12.
  

The several sections of this Code which declare certain crimes to be punishable as therein mentioned, devolve a duty upon the Court authorized to pass sentence, to determine and impose the punishment prescribed.

(Enacted 1872.)

13.
  

Whenever in this Code the punishment for a crime is left undetermined between certain limits, the punishment to be inflicted in a particular case must be determined by the Court authorized to pass sentence, within such limits as may be prescribed by this Code.

(Enacted 1872.)

14.
  

The various sections of this Code which declare that evidence obtained upon the examination of a person as a witness cannot be received against him in any criminal proceeding, do not forbid such evidence being proved against such person upon any proceedings founded upon a charge of perjury committed in such examination.

(Enacted 1872.)

15.
  

A crime or public offense is an act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it, and to which is annexed, upon conviction, either of the following punishments:

1. Death;

2. Imprisonment;

3. Fine;

4. Removal from office; or,

5. Disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit in this State.

(Enacted 1872.)

16.
  

Crimes and public offenses include:

1. Felonies;

2. Misdemeanors; and

3. Infractions.

(Amended by Stats. 1968, Ch. 1192.)

17.
  

(a) 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 under the provisions of subdivision (h) of Section 1170. Every other crime or public offense is a misdemeanor except those offenses that are classified as infractions.

(b) When a crime is punishable, in the discretion of the court, either by imprisonment in the state prison or imprisonment in a county jail under the provisions of subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail, it is a misdemeanor for all purposes under the following circumstances:

(1) After a judgment imposing a punishment other than imprisonment in the state prison or imprisonment in a county jail under the provisions of subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

(2) When the court, upon committing the defendant to the Division of Juvenile Justice, designates the offense to be a misdemeanor.

(3) When the court grants probation to a defendant without imposition of sentence and at the time of granting probation, or on application of the defendant or probation officer thereafter, the court declares the offense to be a misdemeanor.

(4) When the prosecuting attorney files in a court having jurisdiction over misdemeanor offenses a complaint specifying that the offense is a misdemeanor, unless the defendant at the time of his or her arraignment or plea objects to the offense being made a misdemeanor, in which event the complaint shall be amended to charge the felony and the case shall proceed on the felony complaint.

(5) When, at or before the preliminary examination or prior to filing an order pursuant to Section 872, the magistrate determines that the offense is a misdemeanor, in which event the case shall proceed as if the defendant had been arraigned on a misdemeanor complaint.

(c) When a defendant is committed to the Division of Juvenile Justice for a crime punishable, in the discretion of the court, either by imprisonment in the state prison or imprisonment in a county jail under the provisions of subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, the offense shall, upon the discharge of the defendant from the Division of Juvenile Justice, thereafter be deemed a misdemeanor for all purposes.

(d) A violation of any code section listed in Section 19.8 is an infraction subject to the procedures described in Sections 19.6 and 19.7 when:

(1) The prosecutor files a complaint charging the offense as an infraction unless the defendant, at the time he or she is arraigned, after being informed of his or her rights, elects to have the case proceed as a misdemeanor, or;

(2) The court, with the consent of the defendant, determines that the offense is an infraction in which event the case shall proceed as if the defendant had been arraigned on an infraction complaint.

(e) Nothing in this section authorizes a judge to relieve a defendant of the duty to register as a sex offender pursuant to Section 290 if the defendant is charged with an offense for which registration as a sex offender is required pursuant to Section 290, and for which the trier of fact has found the defendant guilty.

(Amended (as amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 15, Sec. 228) by Stats. 2011, 1st Ex. Sess., Ch. 12, Sec. 6. Effective September 21, 2011. Operative October 1, 2011, by Sec. 46 of Ch. 12.)

17.5.
  

(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(1) The Legislature reaffirms its commitment to reducing recidivism among criminal offenders.

(2) Despite the dramatic increase in corrections spending over the past two decades, national reincarceration rates for people released from prison remain unchanged or have worsened. National data show that about 40 percent of released individuals are reincarcerated within three years. In California, the recidivism rate for persons who have served time in prison is even greater than the national average.

(3) Criminal justice policies that rely on building and operating more prisons to address community safety concerns are not sustainable, and will not result in improved public safety.

(4) California must reinvest its criminal justice resources to support community-based corrections programs and evidence-based practices that will achieve improved public safety returns on this state’s substantial investment in its criminal justice system.

(5) Realigning low-level felony offenders who do not have prior convictions for serious, violent, or sex offenses to locally run community-based corrections programs, which are strengthened through community-based punishment, evidence-based practices, improved supervision strategies, and enhanced secured capacity, will improve public safety outcomes among adult felons and facilitate their reintegration back into society.

(6) Community-based corrections programs require a partnership between local public safety entities and the county to provide and expand the use of community-based punishment for low-level offender populations. Each county’s Local Community Corrections Partnership, as established in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 1230, should play a critical role in developing programs and ensuring appropriate outcomes for low-level offenders.

(7) Fiscal policy and correctional practices should align to promote a justice reinvestment strategy that fits each county. “Justice reinvestment” is a data-driven approach to reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest savings in strategies designed to increase public safety. The purpose of justice reinvestment is to manage and allocate criminal justice populations more cost-effectively, generating savings that can be reinvested in evidence-based strategies that increase public safety while holding offenders accountable.

(8) “Community-based punishment” means correctional sanctions and programming encompassing a range of custodial and noncustodial responses to criminal or noncompliant offender activity. Community-based punishment may be provided by local public safety entities directly or through community-based public or private correctional service providers, and include, but are not limited to, the following:

(A) Short-term flash incarceration in jail for a period of not more than 10 days.

(B) Intensive community supervision.

(C) Home detention with electronic monitoring or GPS monitoring.

(D) Mandatory community service.

(E) Restorative justice programs such as mandatory victim restitution and victim-offender reconciliation.

(F) Work, training, or education in a furlough program pursuant to Section 1208.

(G) Work, in lieu of confinement, in a work release program pursuant to Section 4024.2.

(H) Day reporting.

(I) Mandatory residential or nonresidential substance abuse treatment programs.

(J) Mandatory random drug testing.

(K) Mother-infant care programs.

(L) Community-based residential programs offering structure, supervision, drug treatment, alcohol treatment, literacy programming, employment counseling, psychological counseling, mental health treatment, or any combination of these and other interventions.

(9) “Evidence-based practices” refers to supervision policies, procedures, programs, and practices demonstrated by scientific research to reduce recidivism among individuals under probation, parole, or post release supervision.

(b) The provisions of this act are not intended to alleviate state prison overcrowding.

(Amended (as added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 15) by Stats. 2011, Ch. 39, Sec. 5. Effective June 30, 2011. Addition and amendment operative October 1, 2011, pursuant to Secs. 68 and 69 of Ch. 39.)

17.7.
  

The Legislature finds and declares the following:

(a) Strategies supporting reentering offenders through practices and programs, such as standardized risk and needs assessments, transitional community housing, treatment, medical and mental health services, and employment, have been demonstrated to significantly reduce recidivism among offenders in other states.

(b) Improving outcomes among offenders reentering the community after serving time in a correctional facility will promote public safety and will reduce California’s prison and jail populations.

(c) Establishing a California reentry program that encompasses strategies known to reduce recidivism warrants a vigorous short-term startup in the 2014–15 fiscal year using readily available resources in the community, and a comprehensive long-term development plan for future budget years designed to expand the availability, impact, and sustainability of these strategies as further community partnerships are identified and developed.

(Added by Stats. 2014, Ch. 26, Sec. 11. Effective June 20, 2014.)

18.
  

(a) Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a felony is punishable by imprisonment for 16 months, or two or three years in the state prison unless the offense is punishable pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

(b) Every offense which is prescribed by any law of the state to be a felony punishable by imprisonment or by a fine, but without an alternate sentence to the county jail for a period not exceeding one year, may be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or by a fine, or by both.

(Amended (as amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 15, Sec. 230) by Stats. 2011, 1st Ex. Sess., Ch. 12, Sec. 7. Effective September 21, 2011. Operative October 1, 2011, by Sec. 46 of Ch. 12.)

18.5.
  

(a) Every offense which is prescribed by any law of the state to be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail up to or not exceeding one year shall be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed 364 days. This section shall apply retroactively, whether or not the case was final as of January 1, 2015.

(b) A person who was sentenced to a term of one year in county jail prior to January 1, 2015, may submit an application before the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction in the case to have the term of the sentence modified to the maximum term specified in subdivision (a).

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 789, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2017.)

19.
  

Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.

(Amended by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1092, Sec. 231. Effective September 27, 1983. Operative January 1, 1984, by Sec. 427 of Ch. 1092.)

19.2.
  

In no case shall any person sentenced to confinement in a county or city jail, or in a county or joint county penal farm, road camp, work camp, or other county adult detention facility, or committed to the sheriff for placement in any county adult detention facility, on conviction of a misdemeanor, or as a condition of probation upon conviction of either a felony or a misdemeanor, or upon commitment for civil contempt, or upon default in the payment of a fine upon conviction of either a felony or a misdemeanor, or for any reason except upon conviction of a crime that specifies a felony punishment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or a conviction of more than one offense when consecutive sentences have been imposed, be committed for a period in excess of one year; provided, however, that the time allowed on parole shall not be considered as a part of the period of confinement.

(Amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 15, Sec. 231. Effective April 4, 2011. Operative October 1, 2011, by Sec. 636 of Ch. 15, as amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 39, Sec. 68.)

19.4.
  

When an act or omission is declared by a statute to be a public offense and no penalty for the offense is prescribed in any statute, the act or omission is punishable as a misdemeanor.

(Added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 897, Sec. 11.)

19.6.
  

An infraction is not punishable by imprisonment. A person charged with an infraction shall not be entitled to a trial by jury. A person charged with an infraction shall not be entitled to have the public defender or other counsel appointed at public expense to represent him or her unless he or she is arrested and not released on his or her written promise to appear, his or her own recognizance, or a deposit of bail.

(Added by renumbering Section 19c by Stats. 1989, Ch. 897, Sec. 8.)

19.7.
  

Except as otherwise provided by law, all provisions of law relating to misdemeanors shall apply to infractions including, but not limited to, powers of peace officers, jurisdiction of courts, periods for commencing action and for bringing a case to trial and burden of proof.

(Added by renumbering Section 19d by Stats. 1989, Ch. 897, Sec. 9.)

19.8.
  

(a) The following offenses are subject to subdivision (d) of Section 17: Sections 193.8, 330, 415, 485, 490.7, 555, 602.13, and 853.7 of this code; subdivision (c) of Section 532b, and subdivision (o) of Section 602 of this code; subdivision (b) of Section 25658 and Sections 21672, 25661, and 25662 of the Business and Professions Code; Section 27204 of the Government Code; subdivision (c) of Section 23109 and Sections 5201.1, 12500, 14601.1, 27150.1, 40508, and 42005 of the Vehicle Code, and any other offense that the Legislature makes subject to subdivision (d) of Section 17. Except where a lesser maximum fine is expressly provided for a violation of those sections, a violation that is an infraction is punishable by a fine not exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250).

(b) Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed, every offense declared to be an infraction is punishable by a fine not exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250).

(c) Except for the violations enumerated in subdivision (d) of Section 13202.5 of the Vehicle Code, and Section 14601.1 of the Vehicle Code based upon failure to appear, a conviction for an offense made an infraction under subdivision (d) of Section 17 is not grounds for the suspension, revocation, or denial of a license, or for the revocation of probation or parole of the person convicted.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 303, Sec. 383. Effective January 1, 2016.)

19.9.
  

For purposes of this code, “mandatory supervision” shall mean the portion of a defendant’s sentenced term during which time he or she is supervised by the county probation officer pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (5) of subdivision (h) of Section 1170.

(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 43, Sec. 14. Effective June 27, 2012.)

20.
  

In every crime or public offense there must exist a union, or joint operation of act and intent, or criminal negligence.

(Enacted 1872.)

21a.
  

An attempt to commit a crime consists of two elements: a specific intent to commit the crime, and a direct but ineffectual act done toward its commission.

(Added by Stats. 1986, Ch. 519, Sec. 1.)

23.
  

In any criminal proceeding against a person who has been issued a license to engage in a business or profession by a state agency pursuant to provisions of the Business and Professions Code or the Education Code, or the Chiropractic Initiative Act, the state agency which issued the license may voluntarily appear to furnish pertinent information, make recommendations regarding specific conditions of probation, or provide any other assistance necessary to promote the interests of justice and protect the interests of the public, or may be ordered by the court to do so, if the crime charged is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee.

For purposes of this section, the term “license” shall include a permit or a certificate issued by a state agency.

For purposes of this section, the term “state agency” shall include any state board, commission, bureau, or division created pursuant to the provisions of the Business and Professions Code, the Education Code, or the Chiropractic Initiative Act to license and regulate individuals who engage in certain businesses and professions.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 545, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2003.)

24.
  

This Act, whenever cited, enumerated, referred to, or amended, may be designated simply as The Penal Code, adding, when necessary, the number of the section.

(Enacted 1872.)

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