A crime may be a felony, misdemeanor, or an infraction.
Generally, a felony is a crime for which the punishment may include prison. A misdemeanor is a crime which does not result in a prison sentence. All crimes which have an unspecified sentence are misdemeanors. California Penal Code 177 and 650.5.
While most crimes provide either an express declaration of classification, or impose sentences which make the crime conclusively either a felony or misdemeanor, other crimes may be either one of a felony or misdemeanor. The latter are called "wobblers" in the criminal courts. Wobblers have statutory penalties which give the alternative option of either prison or jail/fine. An example is a so called "felony drunk driving, VC 23153, which can actually be either a felony or a misdemeanor.
A wobbler charged as a misdemeanor in the complaint by the DA is a misdemeanor. California Penal Code 17(b)(4).
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